Rethinking Your Efficiency

In many cases, clients ask us to provide “technical” services. Most of the time we understand the business purpose behind these requests. Sometimes we suspect it.
We’re most successful (as are our clients) when they tell us what they are trying to accomplish before they decide the specific technologies to use to accomplish it. That is, clients are most successful when they use us as advisors rather than technicians.
There are risks here for you–our clients–I know. The main risk is that we might recommend something that you really don’t need. Unfortunately, that’s kind of like the reputation used car dealers have. Not all used car dealers are dishonest. But enough are to give the industry a bad reputation.
In reality, though, most of us in the technology industry understand quite well that all software and all hardware isn’t for every business. We consider your individual needs–to the degree you allow us to–and recommend the best solution.
So what’s the problem?
Often, you may not know enough to ask the right questions. You may have an efficiency problem, but think it’s a personnel problem. A well-trained and informed technology firm will help you distinguish between these. They will advise you of the limitations of your personnel; note, though, that you do have to listen carefully.
I’ve tried for years to say tactfully to clients, “You know, you might want to consider some additional accounting training for John or Janie.” Another way to say this is, “Janie seems to be having a problem understanding how to reconcile the bank account. I was a bit surprised at that.” Both of these statements actually mean: “We’re having to do additional training on job functions that doesn’t have anything at all to do with the software or technology.”
My experience is that this kind of message just doesn’t get through.
Here’s a different way to think about it. Business is increasingly complex; the recession has forced almost all businesses to do more with fewer employees. As we come out of the recession, many clients want to remain lean. This means that existing employees will have to do more; thier jobs will be less specialized. Bluntly, they need more expertise and more ability to think to function. You may have to train existing employees more (or again). You may even find that some employees can’t operate in this environment.
‘Nuff said?