It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just the Facts?

Have you ever had a customer/client get mad at you when you told them facts - all you said was:
- "The software won't solve 'x feature need'".
- "The process you are using is flawed."
- "If you don't have upper management buy-in, the success of the change is in doubt".

You have an upset client, now you are confused, and need to get this meeting back on-track.  All you did was give them "just the facts".

Why do you think the customer/client gets so mad?  Usually when the customer gets mad, the customer/client is really expressing anxiety.  Anxiety that:

- You have been able to diagnose the situation so quickly
- The solution is not a simple one
- The customer/client had just felt a pain and you are touching the bruise.


How can a better job be accomplished of telling the customer the 'facts'?

  1. Don't spit it out in the first five minutes of the meeting.  If nothing else, you will sound like a know-it-all.  At least spend time credentialing yourself  - (We have helped others, other successful implementations/projects).
  2. Ask as many confirming questions as you can.  Start broad and shallow before using granular-level questions.
  3. Use the feel, felt, found strategy - see blog.
  4. Facts, without a path to success, is counter-productive.  In each of the examples above (software, process, buy-in), there is a alternate answer that conveys the facts in a better (easier to accept) way.

Reducing Anxiety
The software won't solve 'x' feature
Talk about a work-around,  process change or inquire about what the feature does.
The process you are using is flawed
Help customer/client understand that there are better ways to achieve goal with less effort.  This is especially powerful if you are talking to a decision maker or Owner.  Feel, Felt, Found works well here.
Management Buy-In
No buy-in = no change
This is tougher.  Appeal to the decision-makers need for a successful implementation/project.  Appeal to their sense that if there is consensus, the team will work together to make the project/change a success.

I started this blog about facts and ended with customer anxiety.  My experience is that when the customer is upset over the facts provided, they are really expressing anxiety over either the compelling event that requires a change - or - anxiety that the change will not be successful.

Modifying the way we present facts, reduces the anxiety, and increases customer adoption, success, and satisfaction.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. ( David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tools vs. Process

We use many tools everyday.  We use cellphone to call, a cordless drill to put together a new desk for the home office, and software tools to get business done.  Accomplishing business tasks is a 'process' - whether the task is inputting invoices into an accounting package, designing buildings, writing purchase orders, or doing big data analytics.

There is a debate that goes on about the tools - Which tool is best?  This happens in cellphones (Apple vs. Samsung), cordless drills (Makita vs. DeWalt), and software (PC vs. Mac).  In the software world, there is even a more divisive battle over the tools to complete specific office-based tasks (Google Docs vs. MS Office).  

There is a current theory stating "the tool is unimportant, it is about the process".  I agree that efficient and productive business processes are most important.  But what about "the right tool for the job".


As the picture illustrates, it is possible to hammer a screw into a piece of wood, but it is inefficient and does not lead to a good result.  Same goes for business tools selection.  Here is my take:

1. If the product is free, you got what you paid for.  If you believe that the free tool is just as good, realize the free software has other purposes (example Google Docs - do you think that Google is doing some sort of analytics on your work?)
2. If you are deciding on two competing tools, look for the company that has been innovative.  Innovation will lead to business process improvements. 
3. The more powerful the tool, the more training required.  If it is a drill with lots of options - you will need to read the instruction manual to use all the options.  If the tool is software - get process-based training to fully utilize the business benefits.


I think you can have it all (great tools with great process), but it takes investment.  Investment in the software, implementation, training, and on-going support all are key building blocks to fully leverage and maximization of business process improvements.  This is especially true if the business is based upon services (the selling of labor by the hour or task).  All improvements to the process efficiency (including re-work) benefit directly to the bottom line.

Nothing comes for free, but like in financial world; invest wisely and the payback is certain.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.