Let’s not sugar-coat it. Enterprise software projects are complex, difficult and risky. So, what does it take to succeed in a software project? Certainly, technical skill. Experience is a must. And, obviously, good software helps. But there’s something else, an ‘X factor’, which has nothing to do with technology at all. Instead, it has to do with human relationships.
Now, it is easy to say ‘we should all get along’ on a software project, and in fact this is a preferred state of affairs. This is called professionalism and it underpins any business deal.
But where complex software projects differ is, solutions providers and their clients will work very closely together over an extended period. There will be some challenges, many of which will lead on to more questions. Some challenges may well require workarounds and out of the box thinking. This requires an uncommon approach to tackling the project which starts with choosing whether to go ahead in the first place.
From a software solutions point of view: empathy is the most important ingredient, but it is also a two-way street. Everyone is in this together. Empathy means we leave ‘us and them’ thinking at the door. Your problems are our problems. Your challenges are our challenges. Your success is our success.
What is important to remember at the start of every engagement is that you have the assurance that your solutions provider wouldn’t take on a project unless they are sure that they can deliver success. The sign of a mature vendor: they know what their software is good at and they also know what it isn’t good at, not offering elaborate solutions if in fact they cannot deliver. A good solutions provider will also recognize the right situations and organizations for which their software is well suited, and those for which it isn’t.
Difficulties are almost guaranteed on enterprise software projects owing to the complexity of the environment. These include multiple technical issues which can’t be identified until the project execution is underway. The answer to these issues is to approach them with an open mind and a commitment to resolving them as best as possible. Sometimes, that means customizing the solution internally to specific requirements. In other cases, it might mean finding a third-party solution.
The road to success in a software project can take many paths. A good approach is to have your software solutions provider work with you, acknowledge issues as they come up, and deal with them with honesty and clarity, working together towards a resolution.
By the same token, it’s important to communicate effectively and be upfront about your expectations. This will ensure your software solutions provider invests the same level of commitment into getting the project delivered, and that you recognize the value that a highly configurable software solution can add to your business. Trust is mutual, as is respect. It is on these virtues that a partnership is built – and the implementation of enterprise software is most certainly a partnership.
In fact, for good reason, it is often compared with marriage. Just like an enterprise software project, success depends on effort and commitment from both sides.