By: Joanna Young (@JCYCIO)
The only thing that is the same about customers (internal or external) is that they all implement technology uniquely. When you’ve seen one implementation, you’ve seen one.
A common mistake internal IT shops and technology vendors make is rinsing & reusing similar approaches and plans with different customers when doing strategic planning or developing roadmaps. Each customer, even if in the same company or vertical and using the same version down to the patch level, will need a different pathway.
- Size and scale matter. A small or mid-size customer can have just as much or more complexity than a large multi-national. Don’t assume that numbers of users or annual revenue are indicative of the scope and complexity of moving from version A to B.
- Integrations are integral. The number and complexity of integrations will vary widely and wildly. And it’s not enough to count the integrations, characteristics ranging from frequency to the mechanisms are important.
- Appreciate the reliance on data and reporting. The structure and use of the data can range from mobile dashboards to exports to Excel to do pivot tables. The business criticality of data is what matters – that pivot table might be used to make paramount decisions while the dashboard is a “nice to have.” Cries of “what do you mean I can’t get that report now?” have derailed more than one project.
- Application design – newer may not equal better. Contemporary UX are elegant and intuitive – but if people are used to a certain workflow and interface and aren’t well prepared, business disruption will follow. Even in 2017, people are still using the technical equivalent of rotary dial phones – giving them a mobile experience doesn’t guarantee results. The important and sometimes difficult work of process redesign and change management is critical.
- … and don’t forget culture. I may get the same coffee no matter what Starbucks I go to, but it’s clear that they each have their own mini-culture. I can tell by the voice at the drive-thru, the expression on the face at the counter. Culture will devour everything unless you pay attention to it and adjust accordingly.
This means that IT professionals and tech vendors need to have “buffet style” frameworks and approaches that can be easily adapted – while reinventing wheels is not practical or affordable, having wheels that can go on a Prius as well as a tractor trailer is useful. IT professionals who seek to deeply know their customers’ uniqueness, and flex the approach accordingly, will be better equipped to achieve mutual success.
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” Coco Chanel, fashion designer