One key reason from my observation is, that they struggle to engage sufficiently skilled resources for sales, implementation and transformation work.
An ingenious set of solutions was found to overcome the resource bottleneck and at the same time lower implementation costs:
- The target picture is illustrated with terms like “harmonized”, “global template” and “best practice” based, implying low complexity.
- The configuration work including the responsibility for the technical configuration is pushed to the customer.
No matter how nicely this is packaged, the technical configuration work entails thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of decisions and many of them are mutually dependent. Therefore vendors spend significant time teaching the customer to fill in the relevant parts of a “configuration document” or educate them to directly configure the system. It is less and less common to use a “configuration document”, but if it is used, this is then sent to a resource in the background. The configuration document is uploaded and the system is then “ready to use”. Some implementation partners actually hand that part over to low-skilled resources in near or off-shore delivery centres. To give the customer a chance to get it right, typically they are given a few iterations or tries. If a customer complains about the results, the vendor will point to the customer’s decisions as justification for the system configuration and for milestone payments. Overall, this approach tends to lead to bad results for the customer.
Amazingly, many customers seem to put up with it anyways. In private, (almost) no one would buy e.g. a Washing Machine based on technical specification and detailed features of the machine, that – on top – they would need prior training to understand: On the contrary, we expect the Sales-Person, the “Washing Machine Consultant” to speak our language, understand/discover our use cases. Based on that we expect them to recommend the best fit Washing Machine out of hundreds or thousands available. Do I care about energy consumption, do I need to wash the clothes of my son’s soccer team once a week? Do I need a drier? We expect that we are asked the relevant questions in a language that is ours. We expect our answers to be translated into technical specifications and solutions that meet our needs.
We do expect to be guided and transformed by understanding experts.
So, when you are dealing with something significantly more expensive and valuable than a Washing Machine, would you follow the “do it yourself” approach, three tries included, or the “guided by experts”, Use-Case based approach? Would you ask the vendor/the implementation partner to speak your language, understand your needs and ask them to translate that into the “best practice configuration”? Or would you agree to being trained at your cost on their terminology, agree to fill out their specification documents and/or work directly in an unknown system and take responsibility for it? Would you insist, that meeting your use-cases should be the criteria for sign-offs and payments? If so, why do you not go this direction?