Scheme will allow fully looking at the process of working with clients in terms of creating the quality of services in the broadest sense of the words. The implication is that the reader is a qualified specialist or at least aspires to be him.
the last 10 years I implemented and run the projects in 1C of different complexity. At the beginning of my journey in this area I understood that the quality of work is one of the most important components. As a hired employee, then civilian, and then an employer, I always developed my methods of work with clients on the projects and during maintenance. Looking around, I see a total disregard for the quality of work, the projects «in the table» and discredit of 1С area. This is an attempt to fight with growing entropy in the field dictated by easy entrance into the area of a large number of neophytes as well as activities of various companies for which only the acts are needed to sign.
This is a part of a large enough scheme which I use to systematize my experience. The scheme itself was born spontaneously. Once there was a need to fix the gathered experience, to formalize it. The part of this process resulted in the regulations designed for employees. Another part of processes joined the personal technique to work with clients and works reflectively.
I understand that I am not unique and many people in our area think about the client more than about development, money and other aspects. I will get with pleasure something new, if somebody will share.
See below the scheme itself.
Part 1. Before implementation
The foundation of qualitative work is laid at the beginning of work with client. The major component of such work is the total transparency of process. You can meet a huge number of people who fog the truth of their activity.
The main idea which I use for many years is an absolute transparency in all things. Everything to be written later is only the nuances and various manifestations of this transparency in the work. Despite the simplicity of idea, the practical implementation is reached very hard and very expensively. As every professional surgeon has his own graveyard of patients, each professional implementer has a graveyard of lost up clients. I also have them. I hope, the material will be useful to someone and will allow minimizing the from the side of those who feeds us. 😉
It is important at the beginning to explain the client the work formats that are possible when interacting with you. Very often there is only one way in the minds of people to implement the project. They do not know its name, but they see how they build house. And this way is at the household level of understanding, like everything that is built in this world. This is a classic waterfall model (waterfall model) which was described by Royce in the 70s of the last century. We realize that this is not a single and is not always the best way to solve the client problems. And if necessary, we must offer the alternative solutions to solve his problems. Teach him. Tell him about the iterative approaches, their pros and cons.
You will meet with many objections at this stage. The people with difficulty give them up to uncertainty. Without going into the technical details of this approach, this is a method that allows selling the preliminary designs for waterfall projects. The preliminary designs are sold very difficult, many companies go to a serious reduction in price for preliminary design works in order to get the project itself. Proper presentation of at least two approaches, waterfall and iterations, may both give the opportunity to work well iteratively or at least sell the preliminary design works as well.
Here not even the development model is important by itself, but the moment to put the risks for project results on the client. If you see that an iterative approach for the project is very well suited. if you see that the customer business tends to change and he still insists that from the beginning the project price and time-frame were known. Safely give in, sell preliminary design, but be sure to write in the record of a meeting that the customer representatives are informed about different variants of project implementation and corresponding risks. The records should be written maximally in detail. It takes the time now, but will save a lot of nerves later. Bu sure to sign all records. It often happens that already after a meeting, with a cool head the people read, understand that they can miscalculate and come back to talk about the iterations, ask to explain in more detail what and how will happen.
Bonus here is that educating the client, you also create a dialogue with him. it allows identifying at the early stages the structure of decision making which can be guided then in different situations. This is especially true for large companies where by no means all become clear about who makes decision and what motives are used. I had two situations when the client, categorically renouncing iterative approach with the words «in our company this is impossible in the coming years, we will work in the old way», a month later revised his vision and cam back to this issue. It turned out that he did not make decision, but since the record came to the right people, these people though, weighed, saw robust grain and re-initiated the talks about development model.
You will hear also at this stage what the client is afraid of and what take care of. Listening to the client objections against any approach, you will know the reasons of these objections. Almost all objections will duplicate the objections that will arise at the stage of tender. this is a great opportunity to get to know them in advance. Especially in this abstract form, when you even do not talk about money.
There is a lot of things written in other articles on the requirements specifications. We all use it, but there is always an area for creativity.
Firstly, we incline the clients to ensure that RS was not written just to check the box. We avoid vapidity and warn in advance that our formalized thoughts may be written in a few sheets of paper, will completely reflect their requirements and will be clear for everyone. We diligently move away from the obscure and nobody used volumes on 300-500 sheets that become obsolete for the second stage of project.
Secondly, we achieve understandability of RS by the user. We write in the user language. For example, if there is IT-department on the client side which will supervise our project and a person understands the language of configuration objects, then we write RS using the language of configuration objects. If there is an accountant who sees only the names of forms, buttons, etc., then we write RS in his terms, in terms of what she uses. This is a very important point.
Thirdly, when formalizing the business-process, we move away from the complex description. Almost any business-process can be divided into the linear components. Any complex cycles and branches of business-processes can be always enlarged up to higher level of abstraction and define separately and in detail each step. This allows deploying the process management in successive steps, dissipating the risks of the entire project deployment as a whole. We try to stick to the notation which the client prefers. Here we make a start again from the client.
The main to be achieve is that RS was clear for the client without explanation. If you need the oral comments of specialists for your RS, then this is a poor RS which subsequently has great risks. Singing RS, be sure that the client really understands. Ask if he understand. Assure that if he does not understand, you will rewrite and reach an understandable for everyone description format.
This principle I would recommend to use for everyone and everywhere. Refusal from formalization of testing scenario must be equated with deliberate sabotage at the stage of delivery acceptance of job.
Despite the apparent need, everyone avoid the formalization of testing scenario. But in fact, it is extremely necessary thing. Scenario allows you and client to look fully at what should be done in the end.
Even a short scenario is always better than its absence. When delivering, you will face with the fact that the people will think up the way to gum up the testing. Click the wrong button, do not conduct the document and view the reports later, etc. You need a sequence of actions which you will be guided during the testing.
In the small projects or maintenance tasks scenario usually becomes a part of requirements specification. In large waterfall projects it can be an individual stage of functional modelling with corresponding documents in the output.
If the customer refuses and avoids the testing scenario, does not want to participate in its compilation, this is a bit of the reality sandwich. We usually do not progress if this stage is not implemented. If a deal is scraped, this means that we avoided very large problems.
You will inevitably face with the fact that the client forgot to say something, invented a new idea during the project. This is normal. But also you will face with the fact that the project budget as much less elastic than the customer’s requirements.
In order to protect yourself, it is required to sign an agreement on the changes. This can be an individual document or a part of contract, RS. A particular variant is chosen depending on the situation.
The second task solved by this document is a transparency again. You agree with the client on the riverside on how to work. What would happen if they suddenly forgot something. How will be counted the time-frame and price. We always write that the price will be included in the costs for all kind of works on the occurring changes including formalization of requirements.
if you only begin to work in this area, this point can not be performed. But if you are in the customer field not the first time or know the subject area, you need to use this.
Correct, offer other solution options, optimize processes, etc. Usually, this is much easier to do sidewise, because all other participants have a blurred eyes for a long time. The people may not notice quite simple things for different reasons.
But there is an empirically found nuance here. the value creation is much better perceived by the client after holding a pause. For example, you can interview an interlocutor and during this process you suddenly see an opportunity which they do not use. You have two options: the first one – immediately spout the ideas and the second – take a timeout. In the first option there are the risks. Perhaps the person has spent a lot of time on task, did not cam to the idea or was lazy. You do not know always who is in front of you. People do not always want to see someone smarter than themselves.
The second risk is that you will water down the meeting. That is, instead of focusing on the customer needs, you will start to adjust each client idea.
I have collected in this way all the possible mistakes. And my recipe is as follows: you quietly commit all your ideas on paper, be silent, hold a pause and then write a letter or make a call. Where you talk softly that you struck something and this can be useful and can make the work more effectively, cheaper or bring any other utilities.
Even if this will not be used later, you automatically begin to raise your status for the customer. You are already not just an executor for money, you think about the client, about his wellness. And the clients love it.
But you must remember that the most goo idea can be spoiled with wrong approach.
If you are at this point, do not be too hopeful. Sometimes one wants to know the price by the phone at once, it does not mean that the people are ready to buy.
Here there is a set of working procedures.
It is important to hold the basic rule – transparency and clarity. In this context, the budget must be as much detailed to the logic elements as possible. Sometimes the people just write in the commercial offers 1 million that’s all. For what? What will the client get as a result? This is a real example of our competitors. This is a real example of my partners. That is, for some reason there is such picture of the world in the minds of people, where everything is as understandable for the client as for us – specialists. This is not the case.
People tell money. And to achieve transparency, we detail the budget to the atomic components. in our case, the atomic component is a logic element which does not always coincide with configuration object whose evaluation does not exceed $100-200.
The budget in this case is quite solid and requires the time for such specification. The logic elements have exceptions, for example, complex report or print form which exceeds in advance the price of $100. These elements are described with the notes.
The most important questions to be answered by the budget: why is it so expensive, is it so difficult?
Detailing to the atomic components, you can easily prove that the is not difficult, you did all of this, you understand what will the project consist of, up to the cogs, but everything takes time.
I.e., one of the budget tasks is to overcome the typical objections. Forget about your skill level. People contact with super-specialists only when there is no choice. If your market is to solve highly specialized problems, you can flaunt this. This is normal. But in all other cases, we must say that this is not difficult, this is an usual task for us, we understand the entire process, but everything takes time, this is a labour-consuming.
With this approach, I sold more than once the projects with a price three times more expensive than the estimation of competitors. People understand that it is more expensive, but see and may compare the approaches. With qualitative work with clients, money is a side effect.
The next thing to remember during estimation, this is the fact the technical specialists should not be permitted. The classic mistake made by 99% of all 1C franchisee is a work of technical specialist of consultant directly with the client. We will return to this question at the development stage. But here this is also not unimportant factor. The question is that the technical specialist is not interested in the project on a large scale, whatever you motivated him. Money has a too limited resource to influence specialist. Specialist has his own personal needs, he can build into the budget more than necessary for the money and time-frame. He can not understand that this is an image project and the money is not important. He can not see the whole picture. So, yes, you need to get the raw evaluation from the specialists and this assessment should be guided, but cannot be followed literally.
An alternative is to use the expert assessment, that is, the estimation of specialist who is not financially interested in stretching the time-frame and costs. We mostly use this approach.
The budget specification to the atomic logical blocks gives a great advantage. If in the point «circuit of calculation of expenditures» in the budget you can write everything you want and this will be hard to evaluate, then detailing to the atomic blocks, you do not have to be an expert to predict the manhours for each block. When the customers understand what exactly the pay, they pay with much more confidence.
Very often it is possible to find a situation when the stages of research, requirements formalization are not included in the assessment. This is a common problem. Most often, the reason is that you did not completely train your client to this assessment. The natural reaction of client will be as follows: «I have to pay you to understand how do you need to do your work correctly?». From the outside, it looks really funny. And I am often asked this question and also paid for the research part. Here, everything is easy on the one side and everything is not easy on another. On the side where it is easy, you need to have the impudence and be not afraid knowing logically that all the stages of job are the work and all work must be paid. On the side where it is not easy, everything depends on the fact how much your potential offer is competitive. If your offer does not differ form what the market has to offer and the assessment exceeds the limit, you will need to go away. If you are just starting, it will be much more expensive for you to «buy» your clients than if you are already an experienced player with a great portfolio. Similarly, if this is an early field trial, do not charge an arm and a leg.
It is very important to protect the budget against the customer. Again, the correct approach automatically brings you to the correct protection. It is not enough to sell the project, it is important to sell the project price. Unlike the sales trainings, I will say one thing: if you do everything right on the preliminary work before building the budget, your price will be automatically higher than on average in the market. this is due to the fact that the more deeper you go in the customer problems, the more you find out, the more initial requirements extend and the higher project price becomes as a whole. According to my observations, our price as usually 3-5 times higher than the similar commercial offers. The difference is that my competitors did not take the trouble to work with client before giving an assessment, but gave the price list according to their ideas or RS which was sent by the client for everyone to collect the price lists. We never evaluate the projects remotely, we meet, work and only then call the price. By the time of price definition, the chances that the project will be our are very high. The question remains in the price. The detailed budget can easily parry the attempts to save money on the atomic blocks. I just suggest to strike the point that the customer considers as inappropriate. Usually, the logical blocks are interconnected and scantiness of atomic block price (remember, this is $100 at most) with respect to the price of entire project as a whole makes such deletion meaningless.
but here there is another side. The customer may not really have the money to do all of this. therefore, we make for the budget three variants: budget, standard and all inclusive. The atomic blocks remain the same, but we reject some accounting circuits, service capabilities, etc. In this case, the price for variant «all inclusive» differs from standard one in 2-5 times and it is a special offer.
This variant is good because it allows the project to begin knowing that there are more opportunities and the customer buys in addition everything necessary. Or simply buys «all inclusive» and you receive a large order at once.
During evaluation it is also important to include the risks. Usually, behind the scenes we calculate the risks like +30% to the time-frame and price from initial evaluation. But these risks must be placed somewhere. The detailed budget does not allow inventing the atomic blocks with the name of risks. This will be difficult to sell. But the detailed budget operates many atomic blocks that are lower than maximal block price, therefore, these 30% are distributed among the elements of lower price range adding a little bit for each element. Psychologically, it does not cause discomfort, the price is still low for each element. I never was able to solve ethical dilemma that can pursue this question. if someone will describe his method to evaluate and sell the risks, I would be very grateful.