New Addition to Ed’s List

During Sage Summit 2012, I received the following email from Tom White of the Florida Office of WAC.

Ed,

With the signing up of my last holdout client to a SLA,  have been now
able to totally discontinue hourly billing. At no time, no how, no where do we bill by the hour.

100% of my client list is on Service Level Agreements. All other billings are either from out fixed price schedule or from
custom fixed price projects.

Regards,

Tom White

This, of course qualifies Tom for Ed’s List.

Tom and his team were previously featured in this space a few years ago.

If you think your firm should be on Ed’s List, please feel free to email me.

Great SCA Class in Vancouver

I just finished a terrific session of the Sage Consulting Academy in Vancouver today. While I always find teaching this class invigorating, this session was notable for a few reasons.

Sage Academy Jul 23-26

First, the majority of folks who were attending were originally there under, errr, duress. In other words, they needed to maintain their certification. While it was a bit rough going at first, to everyone’s credit, by the end of the week they had truly bonded as a and were very open to new ideas and even excited about the possibilities for the future.

Second, one member of the class, José A. Lomelí, is from Mexico and has already translated some of the documents from the class into Spanish. He planned on using one of them today during a phone meeting scheduled for after class. For example, this is the Change Request.

image

Third, many have agreed that they have adopted the goal of killing their timesheets in the firms. This, of course, is music to my ears.

My thanks to them for a fun and fruitful week!

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST

Needs Assessment vs Needs Analysis

One of the most common conversations I have with professions is regarding when should they begin to get paid for what they do as compared to what should be considered part of the sales process.

I usually begin my response by showing this video.

Great stuff!

I think the answer to the question of when should I start getting paid is another question, “When do you begin to provide value?” Let me give a very specific example.

Many professionals will provide a free needs analysis. OK, fair enough, but what if the prospective customer has not developed a complete list of needs. Should the professional give away an engagement in which they help a customer develop such a list? Isn’t that providing value? I believe it is.

So here is my new answer to this imponderable question: When you are confronted with a prospect who thinks that the needs analysis should be free (i.e., part of the sales process), I would say, “Fine, the analysis of your needs will be free, however, we charge a fee of $X to develop a needs assessment.”

Thoughts?

On Agile Project Management

Over the past few years, I have been hearing more and more about Agile development project management. For the most part the conversations have not been very positive.

This is not because I think there is something inherently wrong with Agile, but because those that espouse it have always tried to convince me of two things:

  1. Agile Development requires little to no planning
  2. There is no way to do agile development in a fixed price environment

You can imagine that I begin to shake violently at either of those ideas.

In the past month I have had two conversations that have corrected some of these misgivings. Mostly because I have come to the conclusion (confirmed by my conversations) that the folks with which I have had these previous conversations about Agile were full of shit.

Stephen Smith                 05e65fd

The two conversations – one with Stephen Smith, Chief Architect at Sage, the second with Rick Cobb, senior ERP consultant at Blytheco – have enlightened my thinking when it comes to Agile.

Rick had just taken a class and was kind enough to take me through the materials. I found that in many ways I am in alignment with many of the principles of Agile. For example, I really like the idea behind this:

image

Now, I would enhance the idea of customer collaboration to a more broad idea of comprehending customer value. Indeed, one weakness of all of the project management methodologies I have seen is the assumption of customer value. In all fairness, it is difficult to integrate value into any methodology because of it subjectivity, but that is for another post.

My conversations have led me to a few conclusions, all of which I am open to change based on more learning.

  • Agile is probably not for ERP implementations. While I certainly see Agile working in many other places (some noted below) the actual implementation is not one of them. The reason is that ERP projects tend to be more holistic in nature. For example, you cannot get the full value from an inventory tracking process without having first set up a properly structured general ledger. Agile call for prioritizations that make no sense in the context of ERP.
  • Agile makes a ton of sense for CRM projects which a normally more development related than ERP. With ERP, ultimately debits must equal credits (i.e., conform to GAAP), with CRM there are no rules.
  • One area where Agile could make sense for ERP would be in dealing with change requests and change orders. Often, these are mini-development projects and therefore Agile might be quite effective. I say might because on small engagements, some of the change requests might be so small as to only need an adjustment to the statement of work.
  • Another area where Agile excels is in communication. The daily standup meetings and one to two week scrums have some excellent communication touch points built in. I hope that when Agile is implemented that these processes are truly adhered to. There are definitely some things that Agile can teach us about better communications.

Ultimately, I think Agile is very much in line with the concept of results oriented project management that I presented in this space a few weeks back. This gives me some hope for being able to integrate some of the best idea from both methodologies into one more coherent approach.

My thanks again to Stephen and Rick who contributed to my thinking about this post.

My Sage Summit 2012 Sessions

In four short months, I hope to see all of you in Nashville for Sage Summit 2012. As I have received a few requests asking me for the list of session I am facilitating, I thought I would take the opportunity to post them here.

Code Title Day/Time
P-0746 A Complete Waste of Time Monday, 1:30
P-0748 For Sage Consulting Academy Alumni Only Monday, 2:45
P-0751 Creating Scope: Tenth Anniversary Edition Tuesday, 9:45
C-0760-1 Creating Shared Vision Thursday, 8:30
C-0760-2 Creating Strategy in a Small Business Thursday, 10:45
C-0762 In Defense of Business—The Trading Game and the Morality of Free Exchange Thursday, 2:00

 

partner-klessIn addition, I am scheduled to perform at the Sage Rocks the Block, Partner appreciation party on  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 7:30PM.

The Sage Summit 2012 Partner Appreciation Party will offer live music, games, great food and drink, plus a few surprises. And you won’t want to miss one-of-a-kind performances by talented musicians from across the Sage partner community, who will rock out together at the party!

See who else is performing.

A Response to The End of Capitalism

In a Facebook forum that I frequent, one of the members posted this article by Klaus Schwab in the Huffington Post entitled The End of Capitalism – So What is Next?

Here is my response to both the post and the article itself.

If by capitalism he means the system we have in place today. I agree. However, the term for what we have today is not "capitalism" is the true sense. It is "cronyism" or what I call "handicapitalism."

Most truly understood we have a system where the elites in big government and big business have combined to control the resources of production. Including, BTW, the currency itself.

The most accurate term from an economic standpoint is fascism. (Note not NAZISM.) Fascism, from an economic perspective is control of the resources, but not means of production. This latter state is called communism.

Please note I am not a Republican or a Democrat and I am not calling Bush or Obama fascists. I am saying the the policies of the US government have become increasingly fascistic over the year no matter who has been in the White House.

Now that said, what Mr. Schwab is describing as the replacement of this so-called “capitalism” is really just the market responding to the idea of knowledge workers. He calls this idea “talentism,” but is really nothing more than a meritocracy based on knowledge.

On Subscription Pricing and Being a Firm of the Future

On April 4th, Ron Baker and I did a webinar for Sage Partners entitled Subscription Pricing on the Journey to Becoming a Firm of the Future.

If you were unable to attend or would like to review what was shared, you can view a recording of the session. This webcast is part of the new Sage Transformation Journey Webcast Series. In these sessions, myself and other members of the Sage Partner Advantage team present relevant and timely information on how to develop the business practice of selling subscription pricing and improving the customer experience.

Thank you to those of you who attended the April 4 webcast session. If you were unable to attend or would like to review what was shared, you can view a recording of the session.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Firm of the Future, please register for the full two-day Firm of the Future Symposium. The next symposium is being held April 24-25 in Southern California!

In addition to the Irvine dates we also have upcoming Symposia in  Vancouver, May 23-24 and Boston July 17-18.

Click here to download the agenda for this event.

Sage partners can register for any of these events today at www.sage.com/partners. Once you login, select Academies & Workshops an then Mid-Market ERP.

If you are not a Sage partner and would like to attend, please contact me or PartnerPrograms@Sage.com.

Sage City at Summit 2012

To me, the most valuable part of any class, conference, or event is the networking. This year at Sage Summit 2012, we are doing a reboot on the whole idea of networking.

Announcing Sage City at Summit 2012, where “networking” is more than a cliché, and the unexpected is expected. Sage Summit 2012 is about to change everything.

SageCity

Sage City is an all-new collaborative meet-up at Sage Summit that completely reinvents live conference networking and provides a new take on how we make connections. It is a mash-up of the best aspects of networking: small groups, structured topics, and social media.

For more download this FAQ.pdf.