Focus on the Problem
I had an email recently from a client I worked with a few years ago. They are rolling out a new IT system across the globe and they have stalled at one particular site. It was difficult for them to assess if this was a local issue, or a bad fit for the software in that location. What they wanted was an unbiased view from someone they know and trust.
It just got me to thinking about the way we as IT professionals approach our clients and our work. We sometimes get so tied up in our own hype around the features and functions of our products that we lose sight of the fact that the client can only benefit if those features we are so enamored with are actually relevant to the issues they are trying to fix.
We also tend to lose sight of the fact that we are people dealing with people. Our first priority should be about making that human connection and really getting to understand what is happening within an organization instead of just shoe horning a solution that we have used elsewhere. Sometimes this can be made easier by engaging with IT partners that already know the client and have built up a relationship that is founded on trust and a deep understanding of their business. We should still go in with open eyes and ears as a fresh perspective can always make a difference.
Our second priority should be making sure our communications are understood and productive. Many times I have come in to rescue a project and in fact there was very little wrong with the actual business plan but there was a major miss between the levels of understanding that was achieved between both parties.
And finally we should make sure that a client is a client for life and the only way you can do that is to make sure you keep your focus on what is best for them and not on any short term goals, especially if they are being driven by revenue decisions on either side. The goal should always be about the needs of business and should be about win/win for both client and vendor.