‘The client is always right‘– is an implicit management lesson for every consultant as he/ she enters the corporate world. However in all my years of experience, following the customer blindly has never resulted in a positive outcome. Some of the key learnings I have collated during my journey as a consultant at KALTech are as below:
Set right expectations – ‘I can get you the moon’- The notion is very passionate albeit very impractical (in fact impossible!). The requirements that we receive from the clients can sometimes be non-configurable, take additional time/effort than initially estimated or just be out-of-scope. It is absolutely essential to be upfront with the client on what is achievable.
One of the most difficult conversations I have had with a client was on finalising resource requirements on a payroll project. The initial estimate was just for 2 resources to configure the entire HCM suite including payroll. Once the requirements were finalised, I had to explain to the customer that given the complexity of requirements, we wouldn’t be able to manage the timelines with just 2 resources. The client wasn’t very happy about this from a budgetary perspective, however they did understand and eventually agree that additional resources were required for a successful outcome.
Learn to challenge – The customer always appreciates a constructive discussion. Questioning certain practices and beliefs, more often than not, helps define better and futuristic processes.
My experience in working with a leading glass packaging supplier resulted in developing an employee development model that was very different to what the clients initially wanted. The new model was more flexible, scalable and was a better-fit for the growing workforce. After a series of discussions and workshops, the client acknowledged the value-add and decided to adopt the new proposed model.
Acknowledge your shortcomings – To err is human! And you may not know everything every time. Trying to cover-up your mistakes or lack of information may result in more damage. It may also reduce the customer’s confidence, thereby eliminating the possibility of any future interactions with the client. One the approaches that has always worked well for me is to request for a set period of time to check the system design on elements that I am not sure of, rather than trying and providing a solution immediately. This is a practice we encourage at KALTech and in most instances there is no financial impact to the client but instead a higher level of guaranteed service.
The power of playback – Most of the delays on a project can easily be attributed to a difference in the interpretation of requirements and/or solution design. Multiple iterations or playbacks with business owners are instrumental in bringing everybody onto the same page.
Get your escalation routes defined – What if nothing works! I am sure all of us have encountered this scenario in one or more projects. Sitting over an issue can only result in project delays or missed milestones. You should always be aware of your escalation points and speak up as soon as you find yourself in a deadlock.
I remember my first project as a trainee. I was responsible for finalising the enterprise structure for our retail client. In spite of coming up with 4 different options with detailed pros and cons, the customer couldn’t finalise and approve any option. After waiting for a week, I finally spoke to my functional lead. However not being able to finalise the enterprise structure delayed the workshops for payroll as well, which unfortunately reflected quite poorly in my feedback. A timely escalation would have definitely helped here.
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KALTech SAP/SuccessFactors Consultant
There is so much hype about shifting costs from CAPEX to OPEX and how that enables quicker sales cycles, value realisation and lower TCO. While these statements are being made, I’m not convinced that the message is getting through.
I have found the market exercises the same, if not greater, rigidity in their decision to spend, driven by fear of failure, lack of knowledge, past bad experiences or being the victim of some unprofessional operators.
Another reason for this could be that with short implementation cycles, failure is seen as fatal. People are afraid of having to explain their decisions ‘in case’ of failure – especially when it’s in the same year that the money is spent. My experience is that Cloud projects are fairly robust, come with well laid out implementation plans and processes, and if all parties are responsible and stay within the guidelines, then failure should only occur due to negligence.
I suspect that there are many companies still stuck in the ‘CAPEX’ mode and their risk averse nature is actually holding back their business from realising business benefits quicker and in manageable instalments. Preference for a ‘big bang’ go-live with the associated celebrations and back-patting is disadvantaging them – and they don’t really know it. I’m not suggesting they become irresponsible, I’m suggesting the approach needs a new balance point. Checks and balances that worked for large projects may no longer be viable or valid for cloud projects.
Traditionally, software was delivered in chunks – I’ve led projects that have spanned 5+ years. With cloud solutions, functionality is delivered in segments/instalments. Apart from process adoption and business efficiencies being realised sooner, it also benefits the change management process allowing companies to leverage the success of previous ‘functionality drops’. Adopting an ‘all or nothing’ approach to a cloud system will see many companies left behind because they are unable to embrace the paradigm shift. It’s better to have a 3 course meal with variety than 1 big boring main course.
We recently implemented SuccessFactors at a fast growing mining company. Both KALTech and the client agreed to an aggressive timeline for delivery due to their business pressures. I’m pleased to report that the project was delivered in just 17 days and that the client is already enjoying the rewards of the implementation and talking to KALTech about doing more with SuccessFactors. What I also noted with this project, was that the client was willing to make a quick decision to purchase the software as well as being willing to work within the Cloud delivery framework – trusting KALTech to deliver – and WE DID !
So why are we not seeing a ‘flood’ of cloud projects? I believe that the decision making process for spending still has the chains of CAPEX holding it. Businesses need to transition to being pro-active (and still responsible) and start to see cloud systems as an enabler. With segmented functionality delivery, companies can ‘try’ various scenarios with confidence. If something does not work, it can be easily remedied in the next wave – which typically is within a few months.
We have been adding value to our clients by working on the ‘change as you go (CAYG)’ principal. The process is never complete and forgotten just because a system has been delivered. You have to seek out areas of improvement and correction – improvement is an ongoing change cycle.
So make the change, make the paradigm shift and embrace the cloud solution you have been dreaming of.
Contact me or one of my skilled staff @KALTech if you wish to have a further discussion.
The world has been slowly shifting away from an on-premises mindset by migrating systems and processes to the cloud. It’s a model that allows for real-time analytics and connectivity across continents. It enables KPI’s to be analysed and action to be taken faster than before. Although initial concerns around security are slowly subsiding, a cloud based model will by nature, present a different set of challenges to an on-premises environment. For example with on-premises software it will take months or even years to prepare for a go-live event. Software updates are often slow to release and often require extensive testing to ensure compatibility is maintained. However, an advantage of on-premises software is that it will be custom tailored to suit the workflows of your company. These workflows may just be an advantage your company holds over the competition.
Cloud based software however utilises the modern method of faster (quarterly) release cycles with less features per cycle in general. Testing is conducted by SuccessFactors rather than an internal team and all companies run the same release. The technical resource you used to create custom processes is no longer needed for a cloud based model. The cloud model is far less flexible than many companies have been used to. The solution to this lack of flexibility is extensions. Much like plugins for software, SuccessFactors enables apps written by the community to extend the functionality and give a little more control back to the user. So, you can have your cake and eat it too.
(On-Premises vs Cloud)
Before diving deeper into extension options let me explain that a limited amount of customisation is already possible with SuccessFactors. A customised login page can be utilised (not likely to be used if sso is enabled), home page tiles can be added or changed and permissioned, urls added to the navigation bar, company logo and themes applied. All these enhance the user interface and will help incorporate the existing look and feel of your company. Below is an example of a login screen that was custom built By KALTech for a customer to unify their SuccessFactors login screen to their website.
(Standard login page)
(Example of a custom login page)
Extensions, what are they?
Extensions are essentially plugins for your SuccessFactors system. They could provide surface level changes like a change to the UI that goes beyond standard SuccessFactors configurations, or add more substantial functionality. Utilising the skills of KALTech, we can assist you with a custom solution. SAP has already provided a store for partners to publish extensions. As the popularity of SuccessFactors increases, the number of extensions will increase.
(SFSF extension architecture)
The benefits of cloud are clear to the many companies that have made the switch. That doesn’t mean that the downsides have to be a thorn in your side. Contact KALTech today to see how SuccessFactors extensions can benefit you.
KALTech SuccessFactors Consultant