By Monica Crocker posted 12-17-2012 18:55


Funny thing about memories.  They tend to distort some details while being eerily accurate on others.  For example, when I look back at the early stages of my career, I perceive myself as significantly dumber than I am now.  But every now and then I get a glimpse of who I was through a semi-objective lens and I learn I may not have been as wizened as I am now, but I had figured some of the important stuff out.

I got a look back this week courtesy of someone who entered my life as the subject matter expert at a client site and then became my best friend.  She was cleaning out some drawers in preparation for her upcoming retirement (well earned!) and she found her meeting notes from that initial consulting engagement in 1994.  She scanned them and sent me a copy.  What a riot.

I laughed out loud when I saw the “napkin sketch” of the costs for the system I proposed.  The total cost for a system for about 75 people was a grand total of $27,000, including services.  I am not making this up.   That included a server.  I’m sure I swallowed hard before I gave them those numbers because it seemed like a lot of money at the time.  I have since overseen the implementation of multi-million dollar systems that included thousands of users.  How times have changed. 

It also included her notes regarding what I said at the meeting, which consisted mainly of a list of their alternatives for services providers to perform the implementation.  I described their first option was to work with their IS department.  They quickly dismissed that option….still not an uncommon reaction, unfortunately.  I told them option number two was to contract with our consulting firm to oversee the implementation and train their users.  And that their final option was to hire a vendor to do the whole thing.  They responded that they didn’t trust vendors to represent their best interests. Yet another reaction that is still all too common.  So, they hired our firm and I got a few more months of work with a great client.

I also got a chuckle out of the fact that I adamantly stated I was just a consultant and didn’t have the technical skills necessary to perform the install myself.  I am never concerned that anyone will make that mistake now.  Instead, I find myself spending more time convincing others about what I CAN do than what I can’t.

I was also insistent that they put together a Document Management Committee, including their Data Processing department (oh, that’s right… it used to be called that!), key users and representatives from their management staff.  Hey, that was a smart thing to suggest! 

So, what has changed since then?  Prices, obviously.  And I think the options for good content management consultants has grown.  Oh, and the solution I recommended was from the leading vendor at the time, who has since “ceased to be.”  What hasn’t changed is the need to be proactive in the management of expectations around these sorts of projects.  It is still critical to be clear about what the technology can do and what the services providers can do and the organization’s ability to adapt to change.   No matter how good the consultant, the technology and the vendor, the key component in the success of a content management implementation is the organization itself.  If it’s not ready to integrate the technology into its culture, it will be just another exercise in futility.  So, the affected users and organization leadership need to take ownership of the success of the solution.

Finally, these notes reminded me that there was a time when she was not my best friend. So glad that’s a distant memory.

#Expectations #vendors #EndUserAdoption #Consulting