Back in April, I wrote about a consulting firm whose excellent service had earned it rave reviews from a client.
The secret to the firm’s success, it turned out, was pretty simple. Its consultants made sure they understood the client, they committed to the project, they kept their promises, and they followed up. In other words, that firm displayed a genuine commitment to excellence that can be hard to find.
So hard that some of our readers began to wonder how, if you wanted to build a similar consulting firm, you would go about finding the best, brightest, and most committed consultants.
When I asked TEC’s HCM analyst Sherry Fox, she identified seven things you can do to start building a smart, committed talent pool for your consulting firm.
Have you ever been burned by a service provider who promised great service but didn’t deliver? You’re not alone. Especially in the IT world, where virtually every company has a story about a consulting engagement gone wrong.
So what makes an IT service provider great? Are there specific things that the best service providers do to delight their clients? Are there things that you, as a client, can demand? Or is great service something you only know when you see it?
We came upon the answer when we conducted a reference check with a company we’ll call “Midco”—a midsize, US-based distributor of consumer products that had hired a consultant firm to handle its SAP implementation.
The project turned out to be so successful that when Midco filled out our reference check questionnaire, they gave the consultant some of the most effusive praise we’ve ever seen.
To find out what was driving all that excitement, we sat down with Midco’s chief financial officer (CFO), whom we’ll call “Bob,” a former consultant and veteran of several major software implementations.
Bob was happy to talk about what made this consultant so remarkable, and over the course of our conversation, he kept coming back to the same five things.
A couple of days ago, my laptop decided (all on its own) to jump off my desk.
Lucky for me, it survived almost completely undamaged except for a broken latch, which seemed easy enough to fix.
So I decided to order the replacement part and fix it myself.
A few weeks ago, we gave TEC Newsletter subscribers a sneak preview of a report analyzing trends in demand for business intelligence (BI) software. The report was based on peer data collected from over 17,000 BI software comparisons performed using the TEC Advisor online software selection application.We asked everyone who downloaded the report to answer a few quick questions about the things that were most important to them when considering a BI system purchase. And now that the preliminary survey results are in, it’s obvious that BI is still very much a hot topic, and there are some clear trends among buyers. Here are a few of the highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this month, TEC analyst Aleksey Osintsev posted a short piece about the perceived shortcomings of the venerable IBM AS/400 (now the IBM System i). It seems he touched a nerve with the platform’s defenders, who were quick to offer an opposing view in the post’s comments.
The general consensus was that, while it isn’t mainstream, the AS/400 is alive and well. Unfortunately, our commenters say, many system administrators haven’t kept up to date with new technologies, creating the perception that the AS/400 is an obsolete, or at least “vintage” system.
“We’ll get onto a 20 or 40 year old elevator without a second thought, or a 20 or 40 year old air plane,” said one reader, “but when it comes to information technology there is this myth that old is no longer viable.”
According to the experts in our audience, the truth is that, when properly updated, the AS/400 is a reliable workhorse that provides all of the functionality of modern tier-1 systems, and requires far fewer resources to support and maintain. Its age is simply not an issue.
So what do you think? Is newer necessarily better? Is your company still getting tier-1 performance out of “vintage” systems?
Let us know in the comments.
Here at TEC, we spend a lot of time talking about how easily software selection projects can go wrong. One mistake we see over and over is that companies fail to properly define their functional and technical requirements—the things that their new software must do and support.
That’s a big problem—because accurate, well-defined requirements are a critical part of any selection project. Get them right and you’re on the road to success. Get them wrong, or take shortcuts, and you risk making a bad choice. Worse still, you may not even know how bad a choice it is until after the implementation—when it’s too late.
But putting your requirements first isn’t always easy. Software selection is a juggling act, and your requirements aren’t the only ball you need to keep in the air. You’ve also got to analyze reams of data from vendors (some of it fact, some of it marketing hype) to find out if their products actually meet your requirements. And you need to make sure that you’re analyzing those data the right way—using the right tools and a proven methodology.
That’s where TEC’s Evaluation Centers come in—helping you stay focused on your requirements without dropping anything else.
15 years ago, you could forgive a company for thinking that a Web site was something they needed to have because everyone else had one. But by the end of the dot-com boom, pretty well everyone had realized that a corporate Web site was much more than just an online business card or brochure. Today, a company’s Web site is one of its most important assets, simply because it’s the first point of contact with potential customers.
Unfortunately, when it comes to talking to those potential customers, many companies are still missing the mark, and enterprise software vendors are among the worst offenders.Instead of talking to you, they’re talking at you. Here are 6 ways they’re doing it. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve been to the TEC Vendor Showcase recently, you’ve probably seen this symbol.
If you wondered what it means, you might have clicked it, and read this:
“TEC Certified Vendors have met the stringent requirements set forth by our analysts. Associate vendors have taken the first step toward their TEC certification by completing our extensive request for information (RFI).”
Concise, yes. But maybe a little light on detail. So here, to shed some light on the nature of RFIs, stringent requirements, and “associate vendors,” is a short explanation of what TEC certification is all about.
If you know nothing about a company, you should be able to figure out the bare essentials by visiting its About Us page, right?
Turns out this is only true sometimes.
Neat, huh? One click and sixteen words after visiting the site, you know, in a nutshell, what they do. Read another fifty or so words and you’ll find out that content is displayed and ranked based on votes from users. Go further and you’ll find out how that works. The information is there, and it’s not hard to find.
Enterprise software vendors, by contrast, don’t always provide such clear information so concisely. To show you what I mean, I looked at the About Us pages of the ten vendors listed in The New and the Noteworthy: 2008 Vendor Wrap-up, published late last year on this blog.
Are you having trouble finding concrete information about how enterprise software actually works? I know I am.
I’m not talking about feature lists—you can find those easily enough—and I’m not talking about promises to streamline processes, increase efficiency, or deliver value—which I don’t read. What I’m talking about is this:
Let’s say my company is considering upgrading one of its enterprise software packages, and, as an end user, I’m going to be spending most of every day using said package. What’s my day going to look like?
Read the rest of this entry »