Friday, March 25, 2011

POC & Implementation

Never Confuse Selling with Implementing
I just heard these words said for the second time in as many weeks.I've recently been involved in my first sales / POC engagement, and it was an eye opener. I think we all have some responsibility to "sell" our product, skills, ideas, etc... No matter if we're the technical help, or the sales professionals. The issue as I've seen it comes in when a techical person is asked to perform in a sales capacity.

Sales by nature, doesn't seem to focus on the technical aspect of anything outside the "FAB" talk. "FAB" "Features, Advantage, and Benefit" are usually decided upon by marketing and the talking points are well established. This is why it is probably a little easier to "Sell" an idea or product this way. As a technical resource, the only selling and marketing information we are privy too or care to study are the standard set of specs. Then we're off to try and figure the "thing" out, by applying our knowledge to the product, kicking the tires so to speak.

As a technical focused professional, we are responsible for ensuring good practices are followed and that the product we put out can be maintained. It's sort of like a craftsmanship issue. You wouldn't want to be known for shoddy work as a carpenter, you'd never get to build and admire sturdy houses. Likewise being known for shoddy software work, will not afford you the opportunity for long-haul development.

The trick is to balance the Sale with the Implementation. Sales gets you in the door, good implementation keeps you there, and eventually provides you an opportunity to do it again and again...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who's to blame?

So you've been on a project for three weeks, and it becomes apparent that things are not going well. What should you do? As an implementation specialist, developer, or integrator do you have any more responsibility than to "just do your job"? Though some if not most projects are full of political motives and egos. Trying to point out flaws is almost never met with a welcoming attitude.

You have perhaps a very few set of options, but options none the less; so, what are you to do?

Plug along, and let the project manager blame you for being slow or ill prepared. This option does nothing for anyone involved, you look bad, your project manager is stressed, and the client is loosing faith all the way around.

Point a finger, and highlight the flaws in the plan. This option will surely make your project manager defensive at best and down-right hostile at worst. In either case the client might get what they want, but depending on how highlight the flaws you might alienate your PM.

The best option perhaps is to evaluate the entire SOW and Project Plan early in the project, if not before. Using your past experience, make very certain that every single red-flag is noted and discussed to your satisfaction. Identify the concern (number it if you must) and write up a description of the potentially concerning outcome, and identify mitigation.

With good communication on the outset and ongoing and frequent (appropriate) communication will be key to successful project outcome. Have daily status contact with your PM so that there are no surprises and that the numbered concerns are brought to the surface.