IT projects are notorious for having a high rate of partial or total failure. These failures are often born of poor project execution and can lead to any or all of the following outcomes;
- Additional resources needed to deliver the project on time.
- Additional time to deliver the project with the same resources.
- Reduced or modified functionality of the project deliverable.
As well as these troubled outcomes there is also the fatal outcome where nothing gets delivered. This blog seeks educate on the hidden costs of the poor project execution that lead to these outcomes.
Before exploring the hidden costs lets take a look at the real or understood costs. In project terms there is a golden rule relating to remediation (rework) costs. Essentially the cost of remediating a troubled project magnifies exponentially the further into the project you get before identifying the issue. For example:
This table tells us is that if we fail to discover an issue until the project has gone live then we are faced with a cost to remediate that is one hundred times greater than if the issue had been found during design. So lets assume the issue in design cost four project hours to remediate. Using sixty dollars an hour as our cost base then failure to find an issue until a solution is live could cost us $24 000 to correct.
Now those hard costs are a real problem for an organisation, yet these can often seem insignificant next to the hidden costs of poor project execution. Lets explore some of the major hidden costs of these poor project deliveries;
Opportunity cost of the project team resources
In most organisations there is a resource bottleneck in relation to high value IT resources. These resources are rarely idle and generally go from one project to the next as an organisation continues to transform itself or its clients based on the demands of their respective markets. When a project suffers from poor execution it either delays the current project resources moving to a new project or it draws in resources off another project to help with the remediation. In either case there is another of the organisations projects that gets delayed or restrained. It is rare for organisations to factor in the cost of these ‘other project’ delays when assessing the cost of a poor project deliverable.
Opportunity cost of your executives
When a project starts spinning into a troubled state it inevitably drags the organisations executives into it’s wake. These executives are the ones that need to re-organise and reallocate resources. They are also responsible for the additional communications and expectation management around the knock-on impacts of the struggling project. This all takes time and distracts the executives from other tasks. These other tasks could be revenue in nature or could simply be tasks to ensure the efficient operation of the organisation. Either way these knock-on effects can become quite costly and are never assessed as costs associated with the rectification of the troubled project.
Opportunity costs associated with sales misdirection [service provider]
If your company is a third party delivering the project for your client then there are a whole extra level of opportunity costs you need to consider over and above the ones detailed already. The largest of these is the opportunity cost of having your sales arm continue to be involved in a damaged project. If your sales team are engaged in these post sales activities they reduce the amount of pre-sales activities they can perform and as such there is a direct reduction in revenue.
Future revenue cost of reputational damage.
Often a troubled project leads to failed customer promises. These failed promises lead to reputational damage that can impact the organisation to sell its customers products in the future.
Future revenue cost of late delivery
Often an organisation is undertaking a project to enhance a listed product or create a new tailored product for its customers. Delays to these enhancements or delays to the introduction have a direct revenue implications. Notably like the previous hidden costs, these are never taken into account when tallying the costs of poor project execution.
As you can see from the above list there are some very compelling reasons whey we should all place a high premium on getting projects executed correctly the fist time around. Feel free to review the following blogs that deal with the methods for avoiding these poor project outcomes;
At FileBound we would love to hear any thoughts you have around this subject matter. Have we missed anything / Have you noticed similar outcomes?
Chief Executive Officer
As the world continues to change as does the role of the salesperson. In many ways the transformation of the sales team (and its members) is the most important transformation in any organisation for as we all know “nothing happens until someone sells something”. In this blog we will be exploring the traits of the Trusted Advisor and why, now more than ever, they are necessary traits for any professional salesperson.
So what is a Trusted Advisor? Well the name really does present the answer. It is a person who is not only trusted by others but is sought out by others for their advice. The following diagram depicts the Trusted Advisor role in terms of the relationship between personal intent and functional capability (subject matter expertise).
Now we know where a Trusted Advisor sits in the Sales landscape we need to explore the traits that elevate a salesperson to this space. There is plenty of literature on this topic but if I had to distil all that I have learned about the traits of a Trusted Advisor here is the list I would present;
1. A Trusted Advisor has intent for the long term. To do this the Trusted Advisor will seek an understanding of the prospect / customers strategic objectives as well as their tactical objectives.
2. A Trusted Advisor is a problem solver and is not afraid to lead with ideas. Trusted Advisors are malleable in their understandings and are just as happy to learn as to teach.
3. Trusted Advisors have an accountable and accessible nature. They are happy to own their missteps (and those of their team) and work transparently to correct them. They understand that when conditions are at their worst, they need to be at their best. They are easy to contact and always return messages.
4. Trusted Advisors bring the required resources to the table to solve problems. The Trusted Advisor understands that they are not experts at everything and have a strong network of accessible colleagues and technical resources they can call on to help solve their prospect / customers problems.
5. A Trusted Advisor see’s their role as a continuing role with their prospect / customer. They don’t relax once they have delivered an outcome, they simply move on to the next opportunity.
So why is being a Trusted Advisor so important now?
Well historically a salesperson would be coached to take a ‘Trusted Advisor’ position only for high value solution sales. This is still the case for these high value solution sales and is as important as it ever has been. Contrast that with salesperson selling box products. These salespeople were coached to focus on features and benefits and were not necessary burdened with taking this higher order role with their prospects / customers. This was a commercial necessity as the box product sales generally had a very low margin level and the cost of sale was very important. The Trusted Advisor approach to selling is a higher cost approach. In the past the box product salesperson had one job and that was to make sure the prospect / customer clearly understood their products features and benefits including their “Key Value Proposition”. Their role was to continue to communicate these messages so when the decision point was reached by the prospect / customer they would ultimately choose their box over all other boxes in the marketplace.
Fast forward to the modern day and we now find ourselves in a world where many buyers are able to educate themselves online. They can effectively learn about your products features and benefits (including the “Key Value Proposition”) without you. They can research other buyer’s journeys and experiences with your products globally from multiple online networks. The buyer has effectively made the traditional box product salespersons role redundant. So what is your role now?
If you are a box product salesperson and you continue to engage the prospect / customer the way you always have you run the risk of losing credibility. They do not need you to tell them what they already know and if you see that as your job you are missing a huge opportunity. They are craving a deeper relationship. This is your opportunity to become the Trusted Advisor. What is important now is understanding what they are trying to achieve and helping them achieve it with your products and services.
If you are a high value solutions salesperson then you need to continue to act as the Trusted Advisor and exhibit the traits associated with the role. Hopefully this blog has re-affirmed your commitment to this methodology and motivated you to elevate your sales performance to the next level.
Chief Executive Officer
FileBound Australia Pty Ltd
When thinking about or being tasked with capturing a customer’s detailed requirements, beyond the high-level Business requirements … for me, it’s hard not to immediately draw mental pictures of that well referenced tree swing analogy. For those not familiar with the analogy it simply points out that without proper requirement definition a customer looking for a tree swing could have any of the swings in the illustration delivered to them.
Purposely jumping off the tree swing for a moment… and focusing on software solution marketplace with its vast product range with a plethora of configurations, outcomes and customer experiences, it has never been more important to queue up those powerhouse discovery questions to ensure that you have accurately and clearly understood both the functional and non-functional requirements of your customer. If we do this we avoid delivering the wrong outcome for the client.
A functional requirement typically describes the behaviour (such as automated workflow) or presentation of a configured component that meets the specific needs of the customer, whereas a non-functional requirement describes the systems operation… such as a Web Servers Availability etc.
My Top DO’s and DON’T on Producing Great Requirements Documents
|DO||Have a sound understanding of the customers high-level Business Requirements prior to meeting with them to perform the deeper dive discovery.|
|DON’T||Ask a series of unnecessary/repetitive questions where the information has already been provided in advance. This opens your ‘incompetence account’ with the customer and doesn’t build the necessary rapport or credibility for downstream engagements which are required to deliver success.|
|DO||Schedule a Discovery Session with all applicable stakeholders, communicating in advance a structured approach with an agenda or at a minimum a simple email to highlight discussion points for the Discovery session.|
|DON’T||Avoid the inclusion of the IT Manager and/or Senior IT Representative in your Discovery session.|
|DO||Use the phone wherever possible to help qualify any gaps in understanding of the customer’s requirements. Verbal communications result in far fewer misinterpretations of conveyed information over those which can occur in a series of detailed emails.|
|DON’T||Fill the Requirements document with verbose, non-specific or redundant content (e.g. marketing content) that doesn’t help define or qualify the customers’ requirements for review and approval.|
|DO||Use a very good healthy balance of quality images, screenshots and diagrams to present your clean understanding of the customer requirements in your proposed technology. Microsoft Visio is my go to application of choice.|
|DON’T||Make wild and nonsensical assumptions, when they can be solved with a short call or a qualifying email.|
|DO||Document the specific non-functional requirements for success even if they are requirements for the client to deliver on. IE IT landscape changes needed, additional staff training needed etc|
|DO||Scale the length and depth of Requirements detail with respect to the level of complexity of the solution delivered. See Solution Complexity to Requirement Detail Chart below.|
Using the Correct Weight Approach
Following on from my last ‘DO’ recommendation, Requirement documents should contain the appropriate weight of detail/content to be classed as an ‘efficient document’. Obviously producing an overly wordy document for a small, yet simple project can frustrate many customers as they struggle to digest all of the details. On the flip side unconsciously leaving a lot of important detail out OR left only to verbal references will effectively leave the gate WIDE open for assumptions to be made on all sides. Poorer outcomes are consistently achieved when this lack of detail and specification exists within the documentation.
Solution Complexity to Requirement Detail Chart
Hopefully some of these quick tips will help you produce superior requirements documents for your projects.
Professional Services Director
The Ellby Group (FileBound Australia Pty Ltd and Upflow Pty Ltd)
The vast majority of SEK employees are deployed in the field where they conduct student assessments. Once an assessment is completed, it is important for the assessor to quickly return findings to headquarters for processing. However, over the years it has proved increasingly difficult for assessing psychologists to manage all the paperwork and get it back to headquarters in a timely manner. This, in turn, has slowed government payments to SEK.
Assessments administered by SEK are often tracked for up to 20 years. As the years passed, it became apparent that the company needed a better, more organized and efficient way of storing the assessments so that they would be easily accessible when needed for comparison by government agencies.
FileBound Document Management System provided a highly efficient solution to all of SEK’s challenges. Now, once a psychologist completes an assessment in the field, he or she simply scans it into FileBound and it is immediately uploaded to FileBound On Demand for quick processing and billing to the federal government. Every assessment stored in the FileBound Document Management System is instantly available to governmental agencies through the FileBound Clipboard, so getting the copies they need is easier than ever before.
Processing of assessments that once took days or even weeks can now be completed in minutes from the field. By streamlining processing, SEK has also been able to speed up receipt of payment from the government. Furthermore, any assessment stored within the FileBound system is quickly retrieved whenever needed, eliminating hours of searching through records that over the years could get lost or misplaced.
While working with MCSC it was determined that they needed a more cost effective way to file, search, and transfer school records to colleges and universities. They also identified a need for a better disaster recovery plan for all of their school records from 1960 to present.
It was determined that a FileBound document management solution would not only meet their needs but was also at a price point that they could afford. This new solution automates the way they manage and protect their school transcripts, human resource files, and other records within the organization. FileBound allows them to securely access and share transcripts with outside requestors in a much more efficient way.
FileBound was installed and all the staff training completed in a matter of a few days and on budget.
As stated by Chuck Muston, Principal of Mooresville High School, “FileBound has made our school a better place to work and learn. It has given us the opportunity to organize our data and access desired information with ease.”
According to MCSC, they realized a $55,000 savings by purchasing FileBound compared to other solutions that they considered. They also estimate a savings of $1,000 per week for hourly employee costs. MCSC also saved approximately $3,000 in filing cabinets, labels, hard copy records, and other storage materials. The bottom line is that this system saved MCSC both time and money and resulted in a more efficient running organization.
Finkelstein & Partners have long appreciated the value technology brings to business. Over a decade ago, the firm purchased an AS/400-based imaging solution, which was at the time the operating platform of choice. However, as the firm grew and added offices, employees and clients, it became readily apparent that their system wasn’t keeping pace with the firm’s and its clients’ expectations. An investigation of available technology made it obvious that the FileBound Document Management solution offered advancements and capabilities that their current system could not begin to replicate. The demands of the firm’s clients and case load required a solution that offered deeper levels of security, more efficient electronic document folder management and more flexibility to transport files. These capabilities were available through FileBound.
FileBound’s flexible license model allowed the firm to implement processing efficiencies across the firm’s multiple locations without increasing user and support costs. The solution’s extension capabilities allowed the Finkelstein team to create multiple case integration points, custom functionality, custom views and a unique folder structure that weren’t available prior to the installation of FileBound.
The FileBound Clipboard allows lawyers to easily transport specific case files with them without facing the mountain of paperwork and preparation required in the past. In addition, since FileBound provides Finkelstein with the full set of APIs with the selected solution, the team is able to develop its own custom plug-ins, which permit even greater custom functionality specific to their business needs.
The firm also replaced its front-end scanning solution with an enterprise-wide FileBound solution to handle broader business functions.
Finkelstein & Partners has dramatically increased productivity since the introduction of FileBound. Upgrading to FileBound has given the firm’s lawyers greater flexibility in managing their demanding case loads and allowed them to be of greater service to their clients. By moving to an enterprise-wide FileBound solution, the company has streamlined its invoice processing capabilities and is saving valuable employee time, which translate into lowered costs for each case and greater security for the firm.
To determine eligibility for treatment at Kossuth Regional Health Center, staff is required to gather social, medical and psychological information on prospective patients. It was difficult to assemble all the required patient information and maintain it in one location that was easily accessible to all authorized to use it.
Handling the slow, manual preparation and storage of Explanation of Benefit (EOB) forms was another challenge that slowed responsiveness to requests for documentation of benefits.
Both the intake and the EOB management processes were costly and labor intensive. Clearly, something needed to be done to streamline the systems and centralize document storage.
FileBound document management was the solution KRHC needed to streamline and secure its intake and EOB operations. FileBound’s affordable price made it possible for KRHC to adopt the on-demand version that requires minimal IT resources from the client. Because the software is customizable and flexible, KRHC has been able to deploy it in multiple areas of the Health Center.
The adoption of FileBound has streamlined the handling of patient intake information and the preparation and storage of EOBs. FileBound has become a highly secure, central repository of information that can be shared throughout the organization. One of the most appreciated benefits of FileBound is the ability to provide EOBs to patients quickly and conveniently. KHRC anticipates a 50-60 percent time savings (which translates into significant cost savings on labor) once FileBound is fully implemented.
CMH had a growing issue with the availability and security of documents and information that they needed to provide services to their clients. They also wanted to address the disconnect that existed between data in their systems and associated documents. As information was updated in their core systems they wanted that information to be reflected in the system that managed all the supporting documents. They needed to find a better way to meet their growing needs.
CMH chose FileBound because it met all of their needs, including improved access to documents from any of their locations, the ability to apply security on files and sections of files, and the ability to share data from their existing systems to update files within FileBound during a nightly update.
FileBound solved the immediate needs of CMH and provides them the scalable infrastructure they need to meet the growing needs of the tri-county community. With FileBound, CMH has realized productivity gains, better security, cost savings, and improved service levels. CMH is now better positioned to serve their clients as a result of better access to information and with the piece of mind that sensitive documents are now more secure.
Each and every job (approximately 100 per day) has a process of approvals to be conducted, starting with a checklist and ending with an invoice to the customer. It is important that the journey the parts take through the shop is well-documented and historically preserved. Government regulations as well as customer confidence demands it.
Each job has relatively the same documents associated with it:
• Thermal Treatment Chart
• Customer Order Fax Confirmation
• Production Trailer
• Purchase Order
• Signed Shipper
These documents need to be shared and readily available to administrative personnel for timely reviews and often necessary for re-orders. Determining what could be destroyed in the document set would be difficult, so it all must be maintained. “I was amazed as the integrator, at the detail and consistency of the document sets over a 20-year company history. I actually put my hands on Job 1 performed in 1985. It was dutifully kept all these years,” says Steve MacWilliams, Senior Vice President of DocuSource.
The owner/operator was skeptical of change, but realized there must be a better way, as many jobs were never to be looked at again, but some were constantly called upon. He involved his senior staff in an exploratory analysis of document imaging. After all, imaging and x-raying parts was not a foreign concept to Thermal-Vac. Maybe something could be done about the records too.
If the efficiency of document sharing and preservation could be part of a new shop culture, a big gain would be to save valuable time in the invoicing process. “If we can shave even a day off our ability to drive an invoice out of our shop after job comple- tion, this project of document management and imaging will all be worth it, but remember we are a small shop and we have budget limitations,” were the first words out of Mr. Driscol’s mouth in our initial interview. The second comment was, “This better not be too expensive, as we work on very tight tolerances and margins here.” As a matter of fact, a friendly wager was made with DocuSource – that the local integrator could not pull the project off in 30 days for the budgeted amount.
“FileBound and DocuSource have exceeded my expectations in their ability to simplify a paper-based system into a website of job history information,” commented Aaron Anderson, acting General Manger for Thermal-Vac. Steve Driscol continued on by saying, “we plan to put other departments’ information into FileBound, such as HR, Policies and Procedures, Case Studies, and our own AP/AR documents as time permits. I was recently on a four-week extended business trip and it was comforting that I could get to vital information from anywhere at anytime.” Steve Driscol has grasped the power of electronic document management quickly and plans to take advantage of both workflow and e-forms modules in the near future.
Although these were the ending comments, DocuSource was presented with several unique challenges that only a combination of technologies could solve. The application had very unique challenges associated with various documents and infrastructure limitations.
Although Thermal-Vac was technically capable of creating almost anything physically, it had no full-time network administrator. A harsh environment did not lend itself to implementing file servers, and there was no desire to add IT infrastructure.
Fortunately, File Bound’s ASP (Application Service Provider) offering solved all these problems, in that all the data hosting of the images and data could be kept off-site. This was particularly attractive from a disaster recovery standpoint and all of the security requirements were met or exceeded by the FileBound ASP service.
The entire concept of a web-based user-interface that was as simple to use as Google or Ebay was attractive to the machinists and administration staff of Thermal-Vac, and not having to maintain an on-site server was a welcomed advantage.
I wish we could have said the challenges were over. No sooner had we concluded using the ASP service that we were presented a Thermal-Vac heat treatment chart that was the key document in each job file. Heat treatments can last from one hour to as long as 48 hours, the furnace temperature and many other vital records are recorded on a graph that prints about one foot of paper per hour, IN COLOR, with vital signatures at various points. How big a computer file size in bytes was a 48 foot long, 11 inch wide color document going to be and what would be the response time over an ASP? Answer: too big and too long. Initial tests file size was exceeding 30 MB and taking 5 to 7 minutes to download from the ASP. The project was facing a “show-stopper.” The original answer we thought was to bring the application in-house. That was quickly dismissed since the main desire was to move the chart images by e-mail or web-services to clients, and the file sizes were a problem regardless of where the images were hosted.
DocuSource was aware of the DjVu viewer and its ability to compress color images with its impressive logarithm. It had been approached by Lizard Tech several times, but never quite believed how a TIF, PDF, or file type could radically affect file size and performance. When properly motivated a VAR will think out-of-the-box and DjVu was tested. Almost immediately we were seeing 1000% to 2000% file size reductions, moving from 20 MB to 10KB file sizes was impressive to say the least, everything from speed to performance to file size. The color images were easily read. The client was educated on the DjVu viewer and its popularity in the engineering and auto-cad space, and accepted it as a solution.
The advantage was quickly seen in the bar-graphs as common file compression saves every X and Y line, whereas the DjVu Viewer reconstructs the graphs as part of its compression technique greatly reducing the file size. Charts were now able to be retrieved from the FileBound ASP website in moments, the project was saved.
The last and final challenge was how to get the documents in. After all, we could have up to a 48′ long document. When working with color and/or long documents and/or thin documents, Kodak makes the scanner for the job. The i100 and i200 line supported the ability to scan both business documents and long charts. This was a welcomed advantage Kodak had over all other scanners, as the environment and workflow would not permit one scanner for one type of document and another for the charts.
Along with the Kodak scanner, the Kodak development labs have a product called Kodak Capture which allowed us to scan documents as batches, recognize bar codes for each job number and compress the Charts using the DjVu technology. Great consideration was given to put everything in DjVu format, but the Kodak capture flexibility made it easy enough for different document types to be saved in different file formats.
Michael Melair, DocuSource technical integrator worked with Kodak, FileBound and DjVu for a four-week period to seam- lessly get all three manufacturer’s working with one another. Kodak integrated DjVu into their capture software. DjVu altered data output, so that the FileBound importer pro could grab images and push them to the ASP in the background, and FileBound people changed their viewer so that DjVu images were immediately visible and an extra click to open the file could be avoided. The end result was what Mr. Driscol was looking for, a quick, simple, easy-to-use process that any administrative person with under three minutes of training could scan, index and push images to the web seamlessly.
FileBound, Kodak and DjVu are in daily use now by the entire administrative staff of Thermal-Vac. Email integration and Word integration has made it easy to add or extract documents on an as-needed basis to get information to and from customers. Documents are no longer unsecured and all images are backed up and maintained at the ASP for years to come. Job File 1 is now as safe as it ever was. Mission accomplished, DocuSource wishes to thank the tireless efforts of the developers of FileBound, Marex Corporation, Kodak, and Lizard Tech developers of the DjVu Viewer.
• Files are shared
• Valuable shop room floor is being re-purposed from records storage to revenue producing activity Customer retention is enhanced
• Customer service is improved
• Invoice cycles reduced
• Documents available 24/7
• Certification process greatly streamlined