Within the ERP industry, it is common to hear software-consulting firms state: “The system failed because our client did not take ownership of their project.” While this is often true, I find this statement a little perplexing…do senior managers in most companies spend millions of dollars on ERP with the goal of failing? Some consultants sure make it sound like they do.
Second, where were these same consultants when the disaster was unfolding? Suddenly in retrospect, they seem to have all the right answers. Maybe they should have educated their client on how to take ownership in the beginning. There must be more to the story.
The truth is many firms do the opposite and set the wrong expectations from the start. They sell their services to organizations under the premise “we will take care of you, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show”. However, once a project goes down the tube, now consultants are telling us something entirely different, which is...they never could deliver on their promises since all long it was really their client's game to win or lose.
In many respects, consultants are right. They cannot “make” clients take ownership or force them to do much of anything. Moreover, many organizations are their own worst enemy. At the same time, I do not see too many software-consulting firms rushing in to educate, teach them how to take ownership, become more self-reliant, or better yet, do much of the project on their own. I wonder why?
Well, the first reason for this is obvious…it is called “grab the money and run”. Given their hourly rates what incentives do consulting firms have to help their clients assume more responsibility?
To set the record straight, most consulting firms are not crooks. Many mention the concept of their client owning the project from the start. However, even with the best intentions, most firms have no real strategy, focus, or methodologies to put ownership in the right place. Therefore, it is left up to the style and priority of each consultant. At best, this is a hit and miss approach.
My hope is one-day sr. managers within ERP software companies and consulting firms will see the long-term strategic value of customers that are more capable and actually holding up their end of the bargain.
In the meantime, I am not holding my breath. Organizations must get educated to understand what ownership looks like and implement strategies to assume more control of their projects.
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