To satisfy core values such as Keep it Simple and Use Proven and Stable Technologies and keeping in mind that our projects need to pay for themselves with increased productivity we take care to recommend the products and services that best fit the client and their situation. As seen in the EBI Feature/Cost Continuum, the more we can move the client to an off-the-shelf system, the lower the implementation cost. However, fitness with a client’s business is often sacrificed since off-the-shelf solutions are typically not adaptable to specific client requirements.
Determine the Best Fit
Up front we will want to know about the project scope:
- What goals do we need to achieve and how does this benefit the business?
- Who is involved in the selection and implementation and what internal criteria are used to evaluate the options?
- What resources (money, people, etc.) will be allocated to this project?
- By when does this project need to be complete?
Assuming we have the tools and resources to achieve the client’s goals, we have all the key individuals identified and can meet their criteria, the costs are in line with client expectations, and we can meet the client’s deadlines, we then look closely at the workflows related to the system. Assessing the workflows will tell us how closely the features offered in current off-the-shelf solutions will match with how the client already does (or wants to do) business. This helps us to identify possible gaps in software and hardware features that can cause problems for the client during and after implementation.
In larger projects, the project scope and workflows should be done formally with findings presented in writing.
Proposing a Solution
Now that we have a better understanding of what the client needs and how well current off-the-shelf applications fit, we can gather these requirements and propose a total solution. Our first step is to create an Itemized Budgetary Estimate (see Figure 2) where we itemize the software license requirements and provide estimates on time recommended for professional services including installation, customization (if required), testing, and training.
Next we request a meeting of all key individuals in involved in the project. The projects with the greatest success usually have the following parties represented at this meeting:
- Information Technology Department (person or persons who manage the IT infrastructure)
- Department Management (person or persons who manage the workflows affected)
- Executive Management (person or persons who is responsible for making sure the project
Often presented on a web conference but sometimes in person, we quickly recap the requirements and then run through the budgetary estimate line by line. Usually these are ‘Not to Exceed’ budgetary estimates where, as long as we stay within the defined project scope and the client is prepared and available, any cost overruns in professional services are NOT charged to the client. In other words, we GUARANTEE TO STAY WITHIN BUDGET. Comments and suggestions are solicited during this meeting and any changes to the estimate are then made.
Creating and Implementing a Plan
Once the purchase order is officially received and terms are set, we begin by putting together an Implementation Plan (see Figure 3). This will help keep the client aware of what we are doing and what resources are required. Any prerequisites are sent out and final preparations are made for the implementation.
During implementation, we use the plan as a reference to point to make sure the job stays on track. Significant variances from the plan are reported to the client so corrective action can be taken. For longer engagements, we set periodic (typically weekly) status meetings so everyone stays on track.
Implementations are typically done remotely through an Internet connection and web conference. If desired, EBI can make arrangements for a consultant to work on-site with the client.
After project completion and system launch, we continue to support the client with a Support and Maintenance Agreement (see Figure 4). Most of our agreements include Internet, phone, and email support as well as bug fixes, updates, and major upgrades.
Our goal with support is more than just to be ready to help when you have a problem. For most agreements, we include assistance with upgrades, access to webinars and “Efficient Ideas” blog posts with important product information and helpful tips, and all available product documentation. We encourage our clients to use support the help them get MORE out of the product over time so even questions just asking for our advice are welcome.
Guided by our core values, what we do is driven by our desire to make your operation more efficient. Our Approach is an extension of these concepts and helps us deliver and support systems that help improve your business.