Organizations go to great lengths to acquire, improve and maintain a culture and infrastructure that gives them a competitive advantage. Organizations that succeed persist; organizations that are not successful at organization building usually fail over time, unless they have a monopoly in a particular market segment.
Suppose you want to go into competition with Microsoft with an “innovative” spreadsheet product called “My_Excel”.
Because spreadsheets are widely used, you would need to offer My_Excel at a low price.
So, your strategy might be to make My_Excel come “out-of-the box” with a range of “standard” workflow templates so that the user can plug the product in and immediately start “using” your product.
In your haste to get to market quickly, you skip over the usually exhaustive design prototyping where you improve the design of your product.
You decide to concentrate on look-and-feel and you sidestep issues of “configuration” by providing a seemingly impressive portfolio of workflows.
Anyone wanting other workflows can call an 800 number and speak to a business analyst who will bend over backwards to “customize” the product to suit your “special” needs. At a fee that can easily exceed the standard license fee for the product.
What is wrong with this scenario?
Well, just about everything and the outcome is predictable – no one will buy your product when they can get, for about the “same” price, a spreadsheet environment where THEY can put in place THEIR workflows. Not to mention avoid consulting fees they usually don’t find out about until they are on your “slippery slope”.
Sadly, prospective buyers of hospital systems, manufacturing systems, to give just two examples, either do not have the evaluation capabilities or perhaps the time to select a system from a herd of 300+ offerings, all of which “… save time and money” according to the “Cheshire cat” smiling salesman.
How can you select a software solution that is capable of addressing your current needs as well as unanticipated future needs?
This brings us to “Your workflows or mine?” – if the system you are looking at has pre-configured notions of what your workflows “should” be, then you do not need to spend more time on that “solution”. If the vendor says the system can be “customized” to suit your needs, move on.
This thinning of the herd will give you a short list of systems that YOU can configure to suit YOUR current and changing needs.
And, the proof of the pudding is easy.
Call as many vendors as you can stand to listen to, tell them you want a GoToMeeting and at the start of the meeting tell the vendor to skip the corporate stuff and skip the canned demo. Tell the vendor YOU would like to build, compile and run a workflow of your choice and would they please hand over the mouse to you so you can proceed to take the lead in giving a demo of the system to your colleagues.
This request will typically be met with silence.
But, if you persist in your evaluation process you will find a product that you can use to build and maintain workflows that focus on YOUR needs.
Clearly, if you can accomplish the demo objective that you set, most of the rest of your colleagues will be able to use the system.
Questions or comments, please call the author at 800 529 5355.