The risk of buying.

I have heard it many times that the risk belongs to a buyer, especially when talking about purchase of apartment or a second-hand car. I have seldom thought about it in a context of implementation projects. Actually, keeping in mind some projects I could observe, I would say that customer is not taking the risk but throws caution to the wind. In most cases customers are doomed to failure and that is why.

Basically a good sales representative is a professional winner with perfect knowledge of products, markets and competitors. The salesman is motivated, focused on the sales process and can be supported by many professionals of a supplier. On the other side of the sales process is a customer.

executor01_300A customer should have a privileged position but in most cases he has not. The buying process can be organized in different ways. It could be handled either by a user-to-be, so called “business user”, or by technicians from IT/telco departments or someone from a purchase department. There is always something missing in all cases. It could be a lack of time because of other ordinary tasks, insufficient knowledge of a domain of a project, undefined requirements, poor motivation, etc. This makes the customer helpless. The customer looses gradually a goal of investments, accepts offered gadgets and starts speaking the supplier’s language.

While formulating an order or an agreement, a customer is trapped in the language of a supplier. If a customer agrees to talk about servers, modules and licences then this is the end. A customer is caught in the trap the very moment he agrees to pay for hardware, software, installation, maintenance and so on. If it already happened the best thing to be done is to learn a lesson and be wiser next time.

Otherwise I happened to take part in a project which was free of this mistake and the risk was very moderate for the customer. The solution was very simple and based on two right decisions. The customer was determined to operate in the field of its competences and to keep to its own vocabulary. The customer was discussing the business needs, future plans, problems to be solved and ways the system is going to be used and disobeyed to listen about servers, licences, modules and applications. The second right decision was to hire advisers from a consulting company. The advisers that knew the specification of the system, advantages and disadvantages, understood the business needs and technical requirements and were motivated. The consulting company was representing the customer during the whole purchase process and took care to keep communication intelligible for the customer.

The customer paid for hardware and licences at the end of the project, it became natural. This is because the customer bought a business advantages, not a hardware or software. otherWise it is obvious, isn’t it?

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