For Dynamics CRM and SharePoint – Perfection is the Enemy of Good
Okay, first of all, I know what you are thinking. But I am not proposing that an effort to deploy either Dynamics CRM Online, or SharePoint online should be half-assed. Half-assed is not Good, it is half-assed, there is a big difference. Come to think of it, if that was your first thought seeing the title of this post, then you probably are the type of person I am targeting with this. People that think the term “good” is not good enough, are very expensive people to have around.
In our practice we do a lot of deployments of both Dynamics CRM Online and SharePoint Online so I have a pretty good read on how to succeed, or fail. Ironically, half-assed deployments and deployments striving for perfection are running about neck and neck for leading to failure. When I look up the word good in the dictionary I see the attributes that I would want in a deployment, no more, no less; things like “satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree” and “of high quality; excellent”. This is Good. Perfection on the other hand includes in its definition things like “the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence”. Noble, sure; expensive, you bet; necessary, doubtful.
Certain people are hard-wired to believe that only perfection is an acceptable outcome. In our business what this usually leads to is over-analysis, inability to make decisions and extended delays in deployment, and thus deferred benefits to the organization. This is certainly not unique to our business today, I remember years ago when I was involved with web development, a company came to us that had an absolute garbage website. A project that should have taken a month, turned into many months of tweaking and fiddling and adding; all the while their prospective customers were looking a the garbage website. That company folded before they could launch their new website due to lack of sales. It was right then that I realized that “Perfection is not a level above Good, it is the Enemy of Good”.
There are two things you need to do to succeed as a Dynamics CRM Online or SharePoint Online partner: Manage your client’s expectations, and never cede control of the process. While both of these products can do amazing things for an organization, all of which you dazzle your prospect with in your initial contact, at some point time and budget is going to require you to reach up and pull your customer back down to earth. I love the videos that Microsoft produces to promote these products, but like any other software solution out there, you can’t afford to get it to that point of nirvana. Fortunately, you don’t need to. The other part, and I have to continuously drum this into our own staff, is not letting the client take over the process in an effort to be accommodating. This is the fastest route to failure. We know business process, we know the solutions, we know what can be accomplished, the client does not. I not talking about being assholes, obviously that won’t get you far, but firm guidance is not only required, it’s usually appreciated.
If your partner is fond of saying things like “absolutely, whatever you want!”; you are going to have some problems. The potential benefits are real, they are worthy, they are valuable, but they are not achieved by acquiescence or blowing smoke up your ass. I am aware that this post may piss off a few perfectionists, but frankly, unless you are in denial, you know you have a problem, look over your shoulder at your past projects and it will be clear. I am also well aware that I am not going to change you, so maybe I am actually talking to your boss. Believe me your boss know you have a problem. As you sit there explaining to her all of the things you think are absolute requirements, she is only agreeing with about half of them. This is why you leave that meeting upset and thinking that your boss is an idiot. The thing is, your boss only wants you to be good also, not perfect; perfect cost too much. There is no ROI on perfection, just like there is no ROI on half-assed; there is only ROI on Good.
The whole premise of our RapidStart effort is providing solutions that are Good. We can still deal with the perfectionists, but let’s get to that stuff later and first get something on the ground quickly that produces an ROI. We developed this deployment model because it is what I would want to do if I were my customer. So how does this model counter the perfectionist? Again, we know business process, we know the solutions, we know what can be accomplished, and we have manifested all of this knowledge in our RapidStarts. A RapidStart is based on a best practices design of a deployment that allows little room for modification thus thwarting the perfectionists efforts to stymie progress. So far, it appears we are on the right track as leadership loves these. Low cost, fast deployment, and quick ROI makes a RapidStart a no-brainer. But not to leave the perfectionists out, once the RapidStart is deployed, they can lobby their boss for all the expansion and enhancements they want us to add… maybe they will get half.