Recently I have been thinking about how I can make the projects and initiatives that we undertake for our clients accepted quickly into their particular organization. While it would be great if we developed a solution in a vacuum and everyone immediately adopted it, this is not reality. Project development/management is not an exact science. What works for one client may not fit for all – information technology solutions are complex. Current clients may have one view while future/prospective clients may have another.
Take Ensono’s Cloud IaaS solution. In our cloud environment we have standard templates that we deploy from. Once the server is deployed from template, our client or Ensono managed services teams now need to join it to the client DNS or load balancers in order for it to work within their environment. They may have specific monitoring programs they wish to deploy over the standard monitoring that we deploy as part of the offering. They may also need to load a database or web application that they wish to run on the actual server. These are all customizations over above the standard template that we deploy for them.
With all of these specific customizations, how do we, as a service provider, narrow down the most common? And then determine what we should build as part of either the template, automation after the server is deployed or do we leave it as a self-customization as it is now?
Part of the challenge is looking at the way things are done now. Getting an accurate map of the current process is key. With this we can draw similarities across all of our current and future clients this way.
The next part is determining what works in the current processes and (more important) what doesn’t. This can be as easy as having discussions with client and internal stakeholders and reviewing the process.
The third aspect is forecasting. As a project manager you need to anticipate what your clients may need in the future. This isn’t necessarily easy but we are tasked with exploring information through research, online reports, forums, etc., to try and understand the future landscape.
Because of this methodology, we have been able to produce the templates – specifically for cloud services – and other products in such a way that they provide a closer fit for the majority of our clients. There are common themes here. We need to listen, determine where the gaps are, implement and continuously improve, meaning repeat the loop. This is the power of iteration. Feedback is powerful to incorporate back in to the product you are looking to develop. By bringing in people into your process, you get the automatic buy-in from those groups. This makes it easier for them to start using and feeling like they are part of the product that you are looking to launch.