Hey, I’ll Take It (a victory for on premises)

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In July, I wrote a post for this blog decrying the use of the phrase “on premise” to describe traditional software that is deployed at the customer’s location. I posited that this should rightly be referred to as “on premises” with the final s in tact.

Late yesterday, there is news of a victory of sorts. I received an email from my Sage colleague Tammy Mathews in which she informed me that the new Sage writing standards will include the correct usage for on premises!

I consider this one small step for a man. One giant leap for correct usage!

My Interview of Peter Wolf of Azamba

I am pleased to present the second (of what I hope will be many) interviews with professionals who are on Ed’s List. Once again, these are firms that offer only fixed price agreements, have eliminated timesheets for all professionals, and offer a service guarantee.

This interview is with Peter Wolf of Azamba Consulting whose purpose is to help customers gather and organize all of their business information and turn it into knowledge.

Introducing Ed’s List

I have been wanting to do this for quite sometime, but I finally have put together what I call Ed’s List.

Simply put, it is a list of the IT (information technology) professional knowledge firms of which I am aware who:

  • Offer only fixed price agreements and do not bill by the time unit
  • Have eliminated timesheets for all professionals.
  • Offer a service guarantee.

The list can be found at http://edkless.com/edslist/ or by clicking the link for the list located at the top right of this blog.

If you or someone you know belongs on the list, please let me know and I will add them forthwith.

My Podcast

I am excited to announce that I now have a podcast available on iTunes. Currently there are a few episodes available and I plan to add one or two per month on a go forward basis.

This podcast will be a potpourri of interviews, session recordings, and rants. I have marked it as EXPLICIT because I occasional use swear words. Hey, I was born in Brooklyn it is in my DNA. 

Check out this podcast on iTunes:

Cover Art

Ed Kless’ Weblog

Ed Kless

Management & Marketing

Profit Is NOT the Problem

I had an interesting exchange this morning with Bill Kizer, founder of the Sage Partners, Employees and Alumni Networking LinkedIn Group.

He posted, “Want to know what’s wrong with business today? The prioritization of profit over principle is built into American corporate culture.”

I disagree, at least partially.

Pursuit and prioritization of profit is not a bad thing per se. The problem occurs when the pursuit of profit is driven by an over focus on efficiency and cost reduction rather than innovation and satisfaction of customer needs and wants.

The problem comes when the question, "How are we to be profitable?" is answered primarily by saying, "We will need to cut and recover costs." Yes, short term thinking as Bill points out is part of it, but it is the loss of the entrepreneurial spirit (or as some would say – purpose) that is the real problem.

I believe all companies begin to die when more energy is spent on creation of profit through cost reduction (efficiency) than on the creation of profit through innovation for customers (effectiveness).

Yes, this is a derivative of the Eff’ing debate.

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST

On Words I Would NOT Use

At a recent Firm of the Future Symposium with the THRIVEal Network in Greenville, SC, Ron Baker and I were asked about some of our word preferences. On the spur of the moment we developed this quick list of words we believe should be avoided by professional knowledge firms.

Staff – This makes us think of a type of infection. We prefer team member, colleague, associate, or people as alternatives.

Client – In ancient Rome, the lawyers of the day functioned as public servants and were not paid for their work. Instead, they were appointed to their duties in working with their clients. The relationship was not one of equal status and implied a sense of duty and obligation to serve the great unwashed. The word still has this connotation in the context of social workers and their clients. We prefer the term customer which is an Anglo-Saxon word derived from the fact that it was the custom of certain people to frequent a particular place of business.

Value billing – Nothing will set a VeraSagi (our made up and officially adopted name for someone from VeraSage) off into a tirade faster than calling the pricing practices we espouse value billing. A bill is produced in arrears whereas a price is agreed to upfront. This term is linked with professionals when the do write-ups to a time calculated bill. We believe this practice to be more akin to mail fraud. The preferred terms are value pricing, pricing on purpose, or pricing with purpose. When discussing price with a customer we suggest the term fixed price or open (meaning transparent) price.

Fee – This word has a negative connotation as it is associated with governmental and penalty type incursions. We suggest the use of the more neutral word price.

Hours – We believe the only place time spent should matter is in prison. We would ban all use of the word hour and suggest a $5 fine whenever it is used. There is no acceptable substitute.

Training – Horses and dogs are trained, humans are educated. Training implies a bullwhip lashing sounds in the background. Also, do you want your 16-year-old daughter to get sex training or sex education.

Service – We believe most professional firms do not provide services. They provide access to and/or transfer of knowledge, results, objectives, and occasionally goals.

Did we miss any of you favorites? If so, please leave a comment with the term to be avoided and your suggested alternatives.

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST

On Coming to Sage Consulting Academy Even Though You Do Not Think You Should Have To Go Because You Have Been Doing This For 20 Years And It Will Be A Complete Waste Of Your Time

Recently, a class that I have been delivering, he Sage Consulting Academy, has become a requirement for certification for some Sage business partners.

While this post will seem like I am, as my Mom would say, “tooting my own horn,” I am posting it because it is a fairly common reaction for many seasoned consultants. This is especially true for those of you who suddenly face the need to take this class now that is is a requirement.

The following is the unedited evaluation of Susan Cardoza from Sysera.

What did you hope to gain from participating in the experience?  What did you bring to the dialog?

I came in skeptical that this course would add any value to my consulting skills.  I told myself on the first day to participate as little as possible and to just listen.  Well, as you saw, I wholeheartedly participated.  Hopefully, I brought something of value to the class; more importantly, I took away much from the other class members.

When were you the most anxious or fearful?  Why?

I was extremely anxious on Thursday early morning, 4:00am, because I lay awake thinking “How am I going to transition?  What about my Friday overview meeting with a new lead?  What if I say ‘prescription before diagnosis = malpractice’ and decline to give an implementation price, what will happen?”  So much of what you said resonated with my spirit, but I still wanted to scream out “Will you be my mentor?  Can I e-mail you documents & obtain your feedback?”  I own my Company, the buck stops with me, change starts with me.  I haven’t had a mentor in over 20 years.  Now I know you can’t mentor a thousand business partners, but boy did I want to scream out, help me, pick me.  Rather frightening, as I haven’t felt that way in a long time.

When were you the most inspired or ecstatic?  Why?

Clearly, I had moments of inspiration because I determined it was more valuable for Kelley & Denice to attend your class than Sage Insights next year.  I will invest in their education to make sure they are on the same page as me.  It will take a team effort to move away from the insanity of “billable” hours.  They will be ecstatic to be released from the obligation to prepare time sheets.

What did you learn about yourself?

You took me out of my comfort zone, you made me think differently.  Clearly, you were saying “Come on in, the water’s fine.”  Those that are already in the “pool” are always more comfortable than those who are hot & sweaty outside of the “pool”.  Obviously, I liked my way of doing things, but a change is coming.

On a scale of 0-10, what is the likelihood that you would recommend this class to a colleague?  10, assuming 10 is most likely.

Would you like the instructor to evaluate your participation at this class?  Yes

May we use your name as a reference for this class?  Yes

May we use your comments as a testimonial?  Yes, if you want

Comments:

Wow!  After 23 years and many successful implementations, I thought I knew how to lead a project.  Well I was partially right, in that I can successfully lead a flat-fee based project; however, a value based project at a flat fee takes me back to “consulting kindergarten”.   It is a new way to think and a new way to communicate.  You taught this old dog some new tricks.

Value to you:  I think MasterCard says it best “Priceless”

My deepest thanks to Susan for allowing me to post this. If you have any additional questions or concerns about the Academy, please feel free to email me.

Sage Firm of the Future Symposium – New Dates Announced

I am thrilled to announce that Ron Baker and I will be conducting four Sage Firm of the Future Symposia in 2012. The dates are:

  • March 20-21 in Toronto, ON
  • April 24-25 in Irvine, CA
  • May 23-24 in Vancouver, BC
  • July 17-18 in Boston, MA

The symposium will feature Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute and yours truly and is dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone as it requires partners to think differently than they have in the past about what it is that they do.

If you are interested visit sageu.com, and navigate to Academies and Bootcamps > Mid Market ERP. Not a Sage partner, but still want to attend? Email me and I can get you registered. The price is $2,500 per person and comes with a 100 percent money-back guarantee.

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELNEDA EST

On Why Voting in Local Elections Really Matters More Than Presidential Elections

Last week the people of the City of Allen, the town in which I live, passed a property tax hike. This now makes the residents of our fair city among the highest taxed in the State of Texas.

How can this be? With all the talk in the media about tax rate hikes and the flaming rhetoric that comes from Tea Partiers and Conservatives, how could one of the most “Red” municipalities in the most “Red” state of the union vote to raise their own taxes?

Two main reasons.

First, this tax was specifically to fund education and the “it’s for the children” mantra makes even the staunchest Tea Partier turn mauve if not a pale blue.

Second, plain and simple it was voter apathy. This is technically known as the principle-agent problem. As you can see from the table below, less than 10 percent of registered voters turned out despite almost two weeks of early voting opportunity including a Saturday.

Registered voters           45,141    
Total voters            4,373   9.69%
For             2,645 60.48% 5.86%
Against            1,727 39.49% 3.83%

This means that is took less than six percent of the population of the city to impose a tax hike of roughly $350 per household per year on themselves and the other 94 percent of us. So much for majority rules. So much for “democracy.”

Allen Texas High School $60 Million Stadium

Worse this is not the first (nor probably the last) time this has happened. In May 2009, the voters passed a $144,000,000 bond issue for the building a new high school football stadium and a performing arts center. The results were similar:

Registered voters          42,245    
Total voters            3,736   8.84%
For             2,364 63.28% 5.60%
Against            1,349 36.11% 3.19%

In this case 2,364 people imposed a $3,400 per person liability on the rest of their fellow citizens.

Blame Congress, blame Obama, blame Bush, but look in the mirror too. I am sure this goes on in your town to some degree as well.

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST