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change management made easy

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The Results Are In: How Are You Taking ACTION?


project management and change management made easy

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What’s the biggest problem you face in your business, right now?

In my recent series about my PROACTIVE system of making change easier for you and your customers, I asked this question as part of a brief survey (take it here).

The answers you gave indicated there is a real desire to create a long lasting, high value relationship with your customers and continued disconnects within your own company to execute as a unified team.

Sixty percent of you were interested in learning more about how to create a rock-solid pre-implementation plan. This is a great sign, because it means you know that preparation + practice makes for an excellent customer experience!

Because it’s not sexy and slick, we often overlook the operational details in a technology-centric rollout, focus on the technology instead of the culture, and often get frustrated by the seemingly petty details of an implementation.

In his recent book, FLIP (Amazon store link), Peter Sheahan makes the point time and again that you must sweat the small stuff — especially in today’s market. But does sweating the small stuff mean that it has to be complicated?

I have spent a lot of time working on many different projects, and the one thing I found is that most small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) don’t want or need the formal project and change management practices of the larger enterprises.

Taking ACTION

As one of the key steps in the PROACTIVE system for making managing projects and making change easier, step one centers on how you can create a rock-solid pre-implementation plan and take action without the headaches. The six steps can be easily remembered using the acronym ACTION:

  1. Asset Specification & Order Processing: Your customer has bought what you were selling, so it’s critical you get the order right! Your customer  wants you to make it easy for them, so don’t let your order process make a fool of you.
  2. Contract Setup & Financing: When you put legal contracts in front of your customer, it’s like you just turned from professing your undying love and desire to marry your true love to asking him/her to ensure plan for the eventuality of a divorce! The trust you’ve earned during the relationship building process is on your side, but their hard-earned trust is put to the test from this point on. Remember, now you are dealing with their money; be sure to make it easy for them to spend it with you because of their trust in your company’s services.
  3. Team Meeting: I am an huge believer in the internal team meeting — to get everyone on the same page. I have a very specific agenda I’ve found that works in these meetings, which creates a highly effective meeting and wastes as little time as possible to get everyone out of the gates and working on your customer’s implementation.
  4. Inspect the Site(s) & Survey the Customer: Having an effective on-site survey is often thought to be too complex. One of the keys to success is in surveying the customer. This process is a quality check to ensure everything lines up. Your customers find this extremely professional, you avoid costly shipment errors and on-site delays, and everyone has a smile on their face in the end!
  5. Operational Review: In the world of construction, a ‘punch list’ is used to identify gaps between what is currently built-out and what should be built. The Operational Review helps you, your team and the customer’s team begin the project with the same perspective – and on equal footing.
  6. Next Step: Be sure to always clearly identify the next step (or steps) as you move to begin your implementation. No one should be left in the dark as to what their role is in the project or what is expected of them.

In just another week, I’ll be presenting the entire process in Orlando, Florida. Be sure to Register today for an exclusive action packed day!

PS - If you can’t make it, or simply want more information on this topic, I’ll make it easy for you: simply fill in your contact information below (or click this link); I’ll be sure to send you more information personally.

9 Steps to Avoid the Honeymoon Fight with Your Customer

project management and change management made easy.

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Have you every considered your customer relationships like marriages? How about marriages where both partners are committed to one another?

According to the CDC, there was one divorce for every two marriages in the US in 2009. That’s frightening, especially considering how much effort goes into just the wedding itself).

There is the whole business of actually finding a date in the first place, and I don’t know about you but dating surely wasn’t cheap either. Aside from the monetary costs, what about all of the emotional baggage you build up?

So what are you doing to improve your chances in your marriage? How about your marriage to your customer?

Married to Your Customers?

I remember our honeymoon, soon to be 15 years ago this May. We got into a huge fight all because our expectations didn’t match what we’d built up in our head. If you are like most businesses I’ve worked with, your sales cycle can tend to set you up for a very similar let down.

With 70 percent of all major changes failing, you might be better off getting married, wouldn’t you? Continually, businesses invest time, money and effort into courting new customers only to throw it all away because they put the implementation on autopilot.

If you are the salesperson, I’m sure you have all of the best intentions, but be honest — you’ve got a quota to maintain, and those widgets sure aren’t going to sell themselves are they? Tell me it wouldn’t make you feel better knowing your implementation team is a fine-tuned, eat-nails-for-breakfast type of crack-team.

If you are on the implementation team, wouldn’t it be nice if your sales team finally quit promising the world for you to deliver?

It’s not just about product knowledge, it’s about the intimate knowledge with this process that makes everyone look like heros!

Less Effort & More Results

I found out a long time ago that you have to put effort into something to get the results out you want. But it can’t always be so hard, or else you’ll begin to wonder, “What’s the point of it anyway?”

Think about diets and exercise routines; it takes real commitment to see those through doesn’t it? (I know my waste is starting to say so!)

The marriage to your customer — your new customer — should take no less focus, but it doesn’t have to keep taking so much effort!

9 Steps to Avoid the Honeymoon Fight with Your Customer

The key to your success is easier than you think.

I’ve fallen down and scraped my knees more than I care to think about. In that time I’ve uncovered 9 key steps to help you avoid the honeymoon fight with your customer!

Maybe you’re tired of mopping up the messes of failed implementations, or maybe you just want to learn some things you could do to improve your total customer experience.

In May, I’ll be delivering this one-of-a-kind, MPS-centric program on how to make your total customer experience top notch as part of my 1-day, I’m Tired of MPS Seminars workshop at the 2011 Global MSP Conference hosted by Photizo Group.

Don’t miss it, and Register today for an exclusive action packed day full of a bunch of great topics like this!

PS - If you can’t make it, or simply want more information on this topic, I’ll make it easy for you: simply fill in your contact information below (or click this link); I’ll be sure to send you more information personally.

You Got the Sale! Now What?

project management and change management made easy.

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You worked your tail off getting or supporting the sale — and you won! Now what? The scary thing is that you’ve only got one shot to get this right…

With  7 of 10 major changes failing in organizations, do you want to risk all your hard work to a sloppy rollout?

Today, I’m sharing with you the 9-step system I’ve developed in over 15 years of technology- and process-centric changes in organizations just like your’s.

Whether you are part of the team delivering the sale or responsible for making all of the sales team’s promises come true (oh, brother!), there are always a lot of moving pieces to consider in a technology implementation.

To top it all off, I bet you are tired of hearing all of the jargon (and sick of the complexity) around project management and change management. It’s just too complex for most small and medium sized service providers to digest.

If all of this information is hard for you to get your hands around, how are you going to make it easy for your customers?

Be PROACTIVE

After spending a lot of time working with both large and small organizations to ‘make the change’ happen for our customers, I’ve developed a 9-step system directly focused on helping small- and medium-sized providers ease the pain of transition during technology- and process-centric rollouts.

  1. Pre-implementation Agenda – Next to the actual delivery and execution, this is the most important component to ensure your success. Sadly, this is the most often overlooked and hurried step. By developing a customized 6-step ACTION planning system, I’ve allowed you to maximize your chances for success!
  2. Reveal & Review Change, Embrace Resistance – There has to be a story behind why the change is important to your customer’s culture! Be sure to explore why this change is beneficial, but also be prepared to embrace resistance by applying the 7 E’s to Embracing Resistance.
  3. Opening Day Meeting – As part of making change easy for your customers, you want to build excitement while getting everyone on the same page of the program. I have found the opening day meeting (or kickoff meeting) is critical to gathering both cheerleaders and collaborators to your cause.
  4. Asset Deployment & Alignment – This is where the rubber meets the road; whether it’s hardware or software assets, how you align these assets to your customer’s culture is what ultimately tests the mettle of your very first proposal.
  5. Configure & Connect(2) - Customizing and connecting the assets are important, but don’t forget to ensure your project engineers and specialists are connecting with the customer’s people too!
  6. Train – A great way to increase customer satisfaction and shrink that long-tail of support calls after a rollout is to ensure you train and certify your customers. You’ll want to focus on the technology point of contact, key operators appointed to help end-users, and the end-users themselves.
  7. Implementation Wrap-up Meeting – It’s easy to get in a rush when you’ve spent long hours implementing a project of any size. This is a scheduled meeting to ensure mid-level review of the changes that have occurred takes place, as well as allows any additional issues to be addressed.
  8. Vital Review Meeting – I’m often asked what frequency you should follow-up with customers to maximize effectiveness. While the answer is largely dependent on your ability to be consistent in your own process, I recommend that you follow a 3-3-3 rule (after wrap-up). This is to say that you are checking in with your customer at day 3, week 3, and having an on-site, executive review every month for the first 3 months.
  9. Explore & Evaluate Additional Opportunities – If you’ve done your job, you now have achieved a trusted advisor status. In as little as 30 days, at your first VRM, you can proactively begin suggesting enhancements based upon expert insights you’ve developed by staying close and monitoring specific processes within the customer’s environment.

What’s NEXT?

Obviously there is a lot to cover here, and I will be covering more in future articles. If you want to learn how to make change easy for you and your customers, simply fill in your contact information below (or click this link); I’ll be in touch with more information shortly.

PS – I’ll be working directly with Photizo Group to deliver an MPS-centric version of this system in Orlando on May 2nd that will only be available to Photizo customers! Register today for an action packed day!