07 January 2009

Calling All ERP Experts (both inhouse and consultants)!

Recently a colleague called me with a story involving a client.

It seems that a new client requested assistance with a problem regarding its ERP installation. My colleague, let’s say his name is Joe, charged two of his consultants with the assignment of preparing a detailed task list that would form the basis for a project plan. Their list was to be based upon the scope and statement of work provided by the client.

The consultants told Joe they had several questions to pose to the client before they could finish the plan. Joe went back to the client with the queries and received additional information regarding a hard deadline for the project’s completion. Joe cautioned the client about responding to the consultants’ questions, indicating that the aggressive deadline meant that answers to their questions had to be available within 24 hours or the deadline couldn’t be met.

Joe waited 24 hours for a response from the client, no e-mails and no phone calls. He sent an e-mail to the client contact reiterating the dwindling time available for the project and that the risk for timely completion had increased. Then 48 hours passed with no word; Joe sent another urgent e-mail. Then 72 hours passed with no word; Joe sent a more strongly worded e-mail.

Finally, the client responded, after a week had passed, with the necessary information, but there wasn’t enough time to complete the project by the hard deadline.

What would you advise Joe to do? I’ll let you know what I did next week.


Hugo Sanguino said...

I think phone calls would be the best choice for this kind of customers, even an urgent meeting could be a good idea if a week had passed.


Mohan Dutt said...

I agree with Hugo. E-mail is not always the most efficient communication medium during urgent/immediate/emergency deadline.
I often pick up the phone and talk to my customer (business user). I follow up with an e-mail documenting the points we discussed and the action plan / decision / tasks we agreed.
Lastly, an implementation proposal can always be submitted with underlying assumptions. In the absence of confirmation from the client, the list of assumptions would be longer and risks due to non-availability of information, if any, can be highlighted.
One shouldn't wait patiently forever and lose the big picture, I mean the business.

Faun deHenry said...

Hugo and Mohan, thank you for your comments. There was another well phrased comment on Plaxo that I appreciated.

Here is what I told Joe.

Sending e-mail is the right thing to do. It creates a paper trail and sometimes that is very important, but e-mail alone, especially in a situation such as this one, is not enough. Phone calls are necessary as well if he wants to convey the sense of urgency to his client. Joe made a mistake by not following up his e-mails with phone calls.

Addressing the second part of Joe's challenge is more difficult because ultimately the course of action is a judgment call that is based upon so many potential factors, i.e., kind of project, statutory requirements (if any), project's suitability for time compression, just to name a few. If the project completion date is tied to a statutory requirement and the project is not suitable for a compressed time schedule, Joe has two choices. Include a statement in the SOW about the time requirement and the fact that completion will occur after the statutory deadline or, in the absence of the client's agreement to accepting this risk, walk away.

Would you advise Joe differently?

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I could not find a place to contact so thought i would leave a comment here.

I am working on a video piece for a Syspro specialist and thought you maybe interested. It's a video showing one managers quest to implement an ERP system. Despite its funny nature it does deliver a serious point.

Would love to know what you think and please feel free to use it.




Anonymous said...

What everyone wants to say but doesn't is the credo:
"Failure to plan and act on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part" ...
Project time constraints must be met head on ... consultants must "press in" and with one on one personal meetings OBTAIN the answers, NOT wait!
Clients or potential clients may not enjoy the seemingly intrusive approach but it does get results. And, RESULTS pays the bills, gets the client involved and initiates the program.
Client involvement is the first KEY and RULE #1 in consulting.
Otherwise, "WALK AWAY" and don't look back. Its a time trap that consumes everything and everyone.
I'm dramatically amazed at the so-called "ERP" professionals commenting on this and other sites to similar dilemmas.
Seems they too have forgotten, or don't know RULE #1.
Consulting At It's Best!
CDC - Texas.