I am a big fan of HGTV, especially one particular show “Holmes on Homes.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is about a general contractor who is on a crusade to weed out bad contractors who take short cuts when performing the job they were hired to do. Because the “bad contractors” took short cuts and didn’t do the job right in the first place, they created more problems over and above those which they were originally hired to fix in the first place. “Doing it Right the First Time” has become the mantra of the show.
By now, you may be asking yourself what one of my favorite TV shows has to do with ECM…well, frankly, everything. After 43 years in the computer industry and having worked in many aspects both in the technical and sales side of the business, it will still continue to amaze me that I see as many failed implementations as I do.
The sad part is that it does not have to be if customers would take more care in the evaluation process and place more focus on the integrator who understands solutions and less on the software vendor who provides a tool.
First let’s define an expert. An “expert” is someone who does 12 things, 12 thousand times, not 12 thousand things 12 times. A good integrator is just that, they are” good” and can be an asset to the customer looking to implement any ECM solution. Many times a customer will focus on the software vendor to provide this expertise. Software vendors sell software. The problem with this is the software vendor is interested in selling their software or selling you additional software and possibly ignoring the fact you already have what you need or supplying you with the incorrect software for the solution you need.
I have witnessed this many times and to say it can create a messy situation is quite an understatement. In one such case, the customer purchased well over a million dollars in software, but the software vendor and his reseller never understood the requirements of the implementation and certain costly components were left out of the solution. Worse yet, false expectations were set for the customer regarding professional services and implementation costs.
How does this happen? First and foremost, neither the software vendor or reseller had any actual experience with ECM nor the costs associated with implementation. Neither understood the solutions requirements and they purposely deflated the services costs fearing they would jeopardize the software sale. Using an “expert” integrator would have provided the necessary solution, protected the customers’ interests and a positive experience would have been the outcome for the customer.
Another unfortunate circumstance we all share is the state of our economy. Economic times like the one we find ourselves in have a way of bringing out all kinds of new so called “experts.” In this environment the customer must make sure they are able to separate “the contenders from the pretenders”.
I am a firm believer you get what you pay for. It continually irritates me to see a customer pay for the same real estate multiple times because they hired someone unqualified to implement their solution. Following a few simple steps can prevent this from happening.
- Remember the definition of an expert
- Check multiple references
- Ask for a list of customers with similar solutions and have honest and open conversations with these customers about their experiences
- Beware of the integrator who tells you they can have someone on site in just a couple of days to begin work. Any integrator worth working with will be worth the wait. An expert integrator will typically have a 30 – 90 day interval before project start date.
- You get what you pay for