Tag Archives: project management

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Start with Why…

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In his book “Start with Why”, marketing consultant Simon Sinek explains that most business leaders can explain what they do and even how they do it, but only the best business leaders can explain why they do it. [http://www.startwithwhy.com] Simon’s explaination for why that’s important is that your business is not going to stand out because of what you do, or how you do it, but rather it’s the sense of purpose that attracts clients, customers and investors to your organization.

The same could be said about technology solutions. When we’re analysing business processes and the technologies that tie them together, we often see a lot of energy spent on accomplishing a specific task, rolling out a new project or just keeping a certain process alive. But when we ask why the process exists in the first place, that’s when things get interesting.

9 times out of 10 we get a pretty good answer to start. ‘this happens so that will happen’. ‘Why does that happen?’ ‘So this other thing will happen’ and so on. When we dig in far enough, we often find that some solutions exist for the mere reason that someone thinks it should exist, or at one time someone thought it should exist.

In my career, I’ve seen processes that do nothing for the organization but keep IT busy. I’ve seen high speed network connections costing $650 a month plugged into nothing, and sitting for over a year. I’ve seen antiquated technologies up and online simply because no one’s quite sure what it does or if it could be shut down. These add tremendous costs to the organization.

Not that it isn’t a valiant goal to make a technology work, but the purpose of technology is to better the business. Often we see that parts of the business exist to support the technology. It should be the other way around.

When analysing a technical solution, first start with why the solution exists. Then ask yourself, is that the best way? Only then can you really know if the time, money and risk put into the “solution” is worth it.

The challenge on keeping up with the latest technologies is not to have the latest and greatest (those two things are not always mutually exclusive by the way), the real challenge is in knowing why that solution exists and what the real benefit is to the business. Bells and whistles are cool and all. Who doesn’t love a good gadget? But you must consider the risk and cost to the business when implementing it as a solution. Why? because once you integrate a technical solution into the business, the business becomes dependent on it.

One of the fastest ways to save money in a business is to find unnecessary costs, processes and technologies and get rid of them. This not only frees up resources, but it makes the entire system more comprehensive.

Just as the best business leaders know why they do what they do, the best IT leaders must know the reasoning behind every process and continually evaluate the usefulness of that solution. Can you imagine doing a cost/benefit analysis on something without knowing why it exists in the first place? It actually happens more often than you think.

 

What’s your why? Need help finding out? CBC Solutions was founded on the principle that most consulting shops miss this simple point. That technology must have a purpose in the organization and ultimately reduce costs. If it’s not doing that, it has no purpose. Contact us to find out more on how we can help you find the why in your solutions architecture.

 


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Yeah, we can do that…

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For a Consultant, there’s nothing better that to say “Yeah, we can do that” to a customer request. The problem is, what if you really can’t do that?

Consultants, Service Providers & even some resellers want to gain their customers trust and be the go-to person for their needs, however, that’s not always the best practice. You’re only going to have so many skills in house. Being a one-stop-shop for your clients is good in theory but it takes the right business model.

One of the more common practices is where a Consulting firm tries to be an “everything shop” by hiring staff that function in multiple disciplines. I had a vendor visit me once while I was an IT Director saying her company did “everything”. When I inquired more, she showed me a card that listed over 25 distinct business units. Everything from structured cabling to software development.

Having worked for companies like that before, I asked “How many people work for you here?”. She said “12”.

That means each person was working 2 or more business units. While that may work from time to time, it isn’t a sustainable business model.

Why? Because the companies cash flow comes from billable hours. These 12 people have to be busy 30-40 hrs a week for the company to sustain a profit. As a result, the service they provide is only going to be as good as the people available for that specific job.

Take it a step further. What if one person leaves the company? They lose a couple competencies in the process. Replacing that person that has core skills in a couple different (and sometimes unrelated) area is a hiring nightmare.

When a company does business that way, it’s hit or miss on every job depending on the available resources.

Fortunately there’s a better way.

There are firms out there who’s role is that of a Trusted Advisor. Trusted Advisors know the basics of the various business units, but more importantly, they have a large referral network to bring in experts who specialize in a certain area and are available at the time. No temps, but reputable firms who have narrowed down their core competencies.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “why would I hire someone to hire people? I can coordinate that myself”. And if you actually have the time to research companies, interview multiple providers, get quotes, compare service and pricing, sign contracts, deal with disputes and manage the whole project yourself, great! Chances are you don’t. Those tasks take a lot of skill and a lot of time. If you have someone with that kind of time on their hands, you’re probably overstaffed and would be better off outsourcing that when you need it.

Also, the cost isn’t as bad as you think. A Trusted Advisor who’s willing to line-item costs should be able to give you a pretty fair deal to take a lot of work off your hands. They’re not easy to find, but valuable to have. Most consultants who want to do everything in house and are not comfortable referring business out. Advisors love bringing in their partners to a job because they know the job will get done right.

Trusted Advisors are able to provide a very well rounded service and perform at 100% most of the time. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of research and time spent with the partners, but once that network is built and the effort is made to nurture those partner relationships, we’re able to take on almost everything without having to hire a lot of internal staff to do it.

Having the best of the best partners at our disposal, we’re able to truly say “Yeah, we can do that” and be true to our word.


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