Back in the days of big on-premises enterprise application projects, it seemed that most of the people working on the projects had technical expertise of the products being implemented. So much effort went into writing interface specifications, running reports, and setting up code tables, that there was little time left to do much else—except maybe process diagrams, which tended to reflect how the product worked rather than how the actual business worked. With so much effort being spent on getting the basic system to work, there was no time or budget to talk about transformative processes that could really help customers move the needle on their business.
Why business knowledge is more valuable than product knowledge
I believe this focus on product knowledge over business expertise created much of the dissatisfaction with—and failure—of enterprise application implementations.
The cloud offers us consultants something different. The applications are configurable and don’t require a lot of programming code to change the name of a field. And they look as if the developers spoke to someone that understood how to forecast a sales opportunity, process a new hire transaction, or collect on the accounts receivable. You know, real business processes that happen in all business, large and small, every single day.
So now I can spend my time with my customer and recommend additional uses for their applications. We can implement a talent management process that actually improves the performance of employees, instead of just reviewing what they did last year. We can improve the sales approval and contracting process to reduce the time and cost to close a deal, instead of just making sure the approvals are routed and contracts are signed. Maybe we can even eliminate the need for some of the contracts. We can take a deep dive into the manufacturing, warehouse, and shipping processes to see if we’re building the right products in the right places. Perhaps those products could be built a lot closer to where they are actually used, eliminating time and money spent on shipping. Then, with all the money that clients saved by implementing recommendations based on our business knowledge, they can hire us again. Isn’t this much more fun and profitable than designing process diagrams and writing endless reports?