The “O” factor

23 Apr

Recently, “Omnishambles” was declared Britain’s word of the year. It is defined as “a situation that has been comprehensively managed, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.”

I found it interesting as I think that I could relate it with some of our customers as they seem to create such situations (omnishambles) regularly. We educate them with best practices; however, by the time we complete one aspect, we see the “O” factor being created in other area.

We have one of our customers, where they perhaps excel in being part of “O” factor. The way their so called senior leadership deals with their customers, the way they manage attrition of critical resources despite knowing that they are the most important factor in delivering complex deliveries, the way they plan and execute projects with less capable managers, the way they slip their project deliveries consistently and face the flak of their customers regularly etc undoutedly lead them to a big “O”.

Well, you may think -‘Thanks, but tell us what do you do? We face these challenges in almost all organizations’. That’s right. We have always considered our customers as our partners and a part of mutual growth. Their failures/successes are our failures/successes. We often talk to their senior leaders giving them a perspective that they may be missing. Interestingly, we are mostly considered the interface between them and their customer. Hence, ensuring ethics, we often guide what their customers expect. We often groom their managers and hand hold to help them communicate better with their customers. Many a times, team members of our customers approach our consultants seeking best practices or ‘can you help me resolve this pls?’ issues.

I don’t intend to brag about our services in this blog. The point though, is, why does the commotion exist? Occasionally, I have also observed that some managers/leaders tend to either ignore the chaos or let it die down on its own. They seem to give the message – DKDC: Don’t Know, Don’t Care; although, in reality, they seem to simply choose not to try or rather wait until someone resolves the issue. As you may have noticed off late that there is usually an item song in most of the Bollywood movies. Well… you get the point, right?

We also understand to what extent do we need to stretch/be flexible, especially, if you think that the customer is actually taking you for a ride. In short, you need to judge “O” factor of your customer before you take a final call. For instance, let me share instance of another customer…

We have had signed a contract to support one of most complex implementation for this customer. We implemented solutions for more requirements than what were agreed. We went out of our way to provide the solutions for ‘out of scope’ customizations, fix security issues that didn’t fall under support contract and help configure innumerable applications to help them move most or all of their end users to this application. We were always promised that our efforts would be paid off by awarding additional projects. Many a times, we ended up having 3 resources instead of one that was billable. Guess what? We have not received the payments even for the efforts towards ‘scoped’ activities for past few months – we now don’t see any point to get paid for the efforts that we stretched for ‘out of scope’ activities, although promised.They are not willing to consider what was signed as “In scope” activities and have been pushing to deliver more without paying additional (or even for that matter agreed) cost. They seem to unintentionally extend their “O” factor to us rather than help us to get out of the big “O”.

Yes, you can ask us the same question – ‘What do you do in such cases?’ Simple. We are very clear on our mission and vision. We have stretched wherever it is possible and to an extent we could. We have done that past 8-9 months. Guess what? We have informed the customer that we will not be able to continue providing services without getting paid. As I mentioned earlier, we partner with our customer to grow together; however, if the customer signals us that they do not care about our growth, we need to take a call. Its not that we have not tried to resolve the issues earlier. We have had elaborate discussions and have resolved many of their critical issues without charging a dime, especially when they were in dire need. Today, if those efforts do not seem to be valued as the important activities have been completed. We should have judged the “O” factor a bit early in the game. I hope you are not late. Are you?

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One Response to “The “O” factor”

  1. Mike Bird May 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Tough call. It is so very hard not to let great attitude towards to your customer open you up to having the customer take advantage of your goodwill.

    The best response I have seen to a customer request for out-of-scope changes was from a vendor who told them, “We will be delighted to do this for you – and this is what it will cost.”

    In my experience, such removal of ambiguity early greatly reduce the prospect of a contractual omnishambles.

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