“You Suck”? – How Customer Success transformed our organisation for the better.

In May 2018 we implemented a Customer Success Program (CSP) into our organisation. We did this for a few key reasons;

  • We had some key trusted advisors telling us how it had helped transform their businesses.
  • We had a growing sense that we were disconnected from our customers and
  • An opportunity emerged to employ a key resource that we believed would be highly suitable to leading the program.

It felt to us that the time was right however we were still a little nervous about proceeding. We understood that it would require investment of significant financial, human and other resources without any guarantee of a return. In short it required us to have faith.

Fortunately for me I am a man of faith when it comes to trusting people and process. Bill George summed it up succinctly in one of my favourite books “Authentic Leadership, Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value” when he said “the purpose of any company boils down to one thing; serving its customers”.

So what is a customer success program?

Well it is an organisational culture shift that transitions the organisation to a customer-led state. It involves customer centric attitudes, processes, policies and systems that are developed and maintained to maximise the value that the organisations customers get from their products and services.

It can include program components such as executive outreach, strategic account reviews, user conferences and structured feedback mechanisms. In our case, the program, has a goal of delivering “Mutually Beneficial Customer Relationships” and the centrepiece to our program is the timed / structured contact plans. We effectively mandate intelligent, highly-structured contact for all customers every three months. In the case of our strategic accounts this is preferably done face-to-face.

Looking back on our first year of Customer Success I am able to clearly identify distinct phases of the journey. The diagram below shows the movement through each stage.

The first stop on our journey was Stabilise Relationship, and for some of the customers this ran concurrently with Stabilise Solution. We did not anticipate needing this step as we assumed since our customers weren’t calling to log support tickets that they were happy. Well the first round of meetings sure woke us up to the fact that they were not all happy. One customer even went as far as starting meeting one with a very succinct statement – “You Suck”.

That was hard feedback to hear and we had to really analyse our situation to understand what was happening. We take our customer feedback very seriously and in each instance of negative feedback we set about understanding where that customer was at and why. Without exception we rolled our sleeves up and set about changing the way our customer saw us.

In some instances the negativity was able to be resolved simply and on the spot. For one of our customers it was a simple as changing a viewer setting. For others it was more of a training issue and for some it required technical changes to be made. I am happy to say though that we quickly got them all on track and were able to then move onto expanding the solution.

The Expand Solution phase is exciting because it allowed us to elevate the value the customers took from our solution. We are able to return the implemented solution to maximum value. In a lot of cases this involved adding some new workflow routes to accommodate for changes in the organisations operation or structure. These changes were simple for us to do and added a lot of value quickly. In most cases our customers had a managed service and the changes were able to be done as part of that service. i.e. no net new cost to them.

As a side note, I wrote a blog last year on the merits of managed services for both customers and suppliers. If you are interested you can read that here.

The next phase came along after we had maximised the value of the customers current solution. This phase was the Expand Platform phase and it essentially allows us to help the customer to deliver innovation using the tools they have already invested in for the initial solutions. This might be adding a Human Resources solution to a customer that current does AP processing or adding Contract Management to a customer that currently has their Manufacturing Process automated on the platform. This phase allows you to give the customer a fantastic new outcome at an incremental cost. The ROI on these projects can be staggering as the customer already has the majority of the platform to deliver the outcome. Often it is just a bit of Professional Services that is needed to deliver the value.

The final phase we have seen so far on our journey is that of Cross-Sell. This is essentially the process of acting as a trusted advisor, helping our customers solve new problems that we have expertise in. For example, this might be us selling a Robotic Process Automation platform to a customer who currently uses us for Capture. It is yet another way we can help our customer maximise the value delivered by having a relationship with us.

Will there be additional phases in the future? I think there could well be. I am sure as our levels of trust within our customer base continues to grow, we will then be referred into the networks of our customers, essentially allowing us to sell our products and services to new name customers. I can also envisage an outcome where we bring multiple of our clients together to achieve collective project outcomes. This is just two more ways I think we could help our customers get value from the relationship.

What are the Benefits?

So far in this blog I have identified the many way we are now able to deliver value to our clients. Whilst this is an amazing outcome, we are a for-profit company and the program also has to benefit us. After all our program goal is “Mutually Beneficial Customer Relationships”.  Here is a list of the benefits you should realise after implementing a Customer Success Program;

  1.  Retention – The customer success program will maximise your customer retentions by reducing most risks that would lead to a customer departure. Of course there are risks that cannot be controlled by you or your organisation (i.e. Your customer goes into liquidation) but this is the best way we know of to ensure you have long standing customer relationships.
  2. Increased Revenue – The program will deliver new revenues in the form of change orders to current solutions, solution upgrades to handle increased volume, orders for brand new solutions and / or orders for new products and services.
  3. Increased Margin – Companies that deliver value to their customers find themselves under less competition at contract renewal time. You will also be delivering ROI based outcomes as opposed to cost plus product sales. These factors combined will ensure you maintain healthy margins.
  4. Stronger Business Development – In our experience potential new customers are looking for service differentiators. Showing a potential customer the program that you will be placing around them to help them maximise value will set you apart from your competitors. It is still early days for Customer Experience and it is unlikely your competitors will have a quality Customer Success Program to market.
  5. Recruit the best talent – We have found that potential new recruits are more attracted to us when they understand how we care for our customers. This makes sense when you think about it, after all do you want to work for a company that does not look after its customers well?

So hopefully this blog has given you the courage to investigate Customer Success. It has enabled us to transform our organisation for the better and it can do the same for yours.

Maximising Solution ROI…

So, you are going digital. You have started or completed a project/s to implement digital solutions. You and your technology partner have analysed your requirements and worked hard to test and turn on a digital platform. But what then….

One item often overlooked when implementing digital solutions is the changing environment within which they will work moving into the future. You see from day one of your new systems’ use it will start to have a decreasing ROI. This is due to the unstoppable changes in the environment in which this solution now operates. This environment includes the organisation, it’s people, it’s other processes and the external environment which can include things such as the legislative environment.

So, we have implemented a solution and we know that everything around that solution will continue to change causing a decreasing ROI. How do we mitigate this organisational risk?

We would strongly recommend that you have your technology partner provide a “Managed Service” for the solution / solutions.

For the purposes of this article a managed service is a contracted set of services that are provided by a solutions provider to a solution using customer. Typically, they are paid for monthly, operate as a use-it-or-lose-it facility and are used as needed to achieve specific solution outcomes.

As an Example;

A company, ABC flights, has a 6 hour per month Managed Service with their technology partner for their AP automation solution. They pay a monthly fee for this and request work against it via a web portal. Typically, ABC use this service to update invoice templates to ensure a high percentage of data is captured automatically when invoices enter the solution. They have also used it to make workflow routing changes, upgrade the software components to the latest version and seek advice from the solution experts on potential future projects.

So, who should demand these Managed Services? Well, we believe the customer and the technology partner should both demand them. They provide significant benefits for both parties. I have identified these benefits below;

Benefits to the Using Customer

An ROI that is sustained [and possibly even improved] over time. Work can be regularly scheduled to keep the system operating at peak level despite any changes to the operating environment. The Managed Service can also be used to digitise additional processes and drive even greater ROI.

Team member satisfaction with their work as the systems they use are modern and operating well. This is more important to organisations as the millennials continue to rise through the workforce. Like it or not, this generation expects their employers to be digitally savvy.

An ability to ensure you are maintained onto the latest versions of your software components. These versions generally have significant security upgrades as well as a slew of new and improved operating functionality. Whilst most organisations understand the importance of software maintenance, far less of them ever actually implement a regular upgrade process to ensure they are on the latest versions of their software platforms. This is often due to the cost of a technology partner implementing these upgrades. With a Managed Service, these upgrades can be done as part of the service thus ensuring the customer continues to reap the benefits of their investment in software maintenance.

Priority of work request processing with your technology partner. Your technology partner will definitely process their Managed Service customers in priority over their non-contracted customers.

A smoothing of cash-flow relating to the operation of the solution. Even if you do not have a Managed Service it is highly likely that at some point in time [usually when there has been a big problem] you will need to spend a quantum of money maintaining the system. This work is generally not budgeted for.

Benefits Summary

  • A solution that adapts to the changing environment
  • Maintained, reliable systems for workforce use
  • Timely access to improved security and new / improved functions
  • Priority response from technology partner
  • Improved cashflow for solution maintenance costs.

Benefits to the Technology Partner

A happy customer that will often act as a referral customer. In our experience, our active Managed Service customers are easily our happiest. They get everything they want, when they want it and when there is an issue with the solution we don’t waste time trying to work out who is paying, we just start work. Having a Managed Service means that the technology partner can be at their best when things are at their worse.

The ability to resource accordingly so that service requests can be dealt with in a timely manner. When a technology partner has a critical mass of Managed Service customers they are able to staff their engineering departments with stable, high quality solution engineers. If a technology partner only ever does project work it is much harder to ensure adequate staff levels for peak demand.

Significant increases in customer delight. As well as all the standard benefits that accrue from a happy customer there are also lots of efficiency benefits that accrue. An unhappy customer needs a lot of management. Most of that organisational effort is nonchargeable and diverts organisational effort away from strategically important tasks [like growth].

Reduced commercial risks as deployed solutions remain valuable for the length of the agree service contract. There are less late payments and discount requests as the customers are happy.

A potential case study target. One of the most powerful things a company has is its customer success stories. It is these stories that often provide the confidence and credibility needed to succeed in attracting new customers.

Benefits Summary

  • Turns customers into advocates
  • More effective technical resource management
  • Reduce customer rework costs
  • Significantly reduce commercial risks
  • Create case study opportunities


So, there are many benefits to Managed Services however there is one key element that needs mentioning for those customers considering using one – A Managed Service is only valuable if it is actively used by the customer. Failure to use a Managed Service just leads to an unjustifiable organisational cost.

As we continue down the digital transformation path, more and more organisations will be implementing digital work solutions. These work solutions need to give great ROI and ensure that any human labour required by solution is deployed on high value tasks. First-world economies need for this to happen if they want to be able to maintain high wage levels.

Organisations that want to ‘Win’ in the information age need to implement solutions that deliver great ROI, delight their staff, adapt to the changing world and maintain high levels of security. Implementing a Solution Managed Service for your digital solutions is the best way of maximising your organisation’s chances of being one of the ‘Winners’.

Do you have any experience with Managed Services on Digital Solutions? We would love to hear your story.

More Solution Sales – Less Effort

If you spend your days going from demonstration to demonstration and are continually frustrated that your close rate is not high enough then this article may offer some insight that can help.

Racers at start line on track

Last year we ran an education event for our partners titled “Demonstration Masters”. The goal of the event was to show the attendees how to run solution demonstrations that significantly improve the likelihood of a sale. After all, isn’t that the primary goal of any sales activity.

To prepare for the event we researched the subject matter and then added our prior experience into the mix. Whilst a simple article on the subject cannot pass on all the content we delivered through the event I am going to identify the major themes that we delivered here so that you can start the journey to improving your solution sales efforts.

A quick note before I do that: What I am talking about here is the Technical Proof demonstration. That is a demonstration to prove the credibility of a solution. I am not talking about the Vision Generation or Spray and Pray types of demonstration. In my view the Vision Generation type of demonstration, where you show prospects a range of solutions you can deliver and hope they like something, should be used for lead generation in many to one events like boardroom lunches. I would avoid Spray and Pray demonstrations, where you basically show a prospect all the software features you can cram into an hour, at all costs. They are a very costly and ineffective way of doing lead generation.

Don’t demonstrate too early

Eliminating this bad habit is the number one way to close more deals. What we see in market is well intended. The sales lead finds a pain or opportunity that they know their organisation can solve or resolve. They tell the prospect about their capabilities and the prospect is interested. They then consider the next step here to demonstrate the software as soon as the prospect will allow it.

The problem with demonstrating at this stage is that you do not understand the problem at a granular enough level that you can build a CREDIBLE solution. If your solution is not credible then your competitors have an opportunity to beat you to the sale. Even if there is no competitor in the deal you will most likely convince the prospect to do nothing as they have not seen the solution to their problem.

You also need to consider your timing of the demonstration. There are times that are not wise to demonstrate to certain prospects e.g. end of month for a finance team or times where key stakeholders are on leave. There is no point securing a demonstration time that fails to allow the key stakeholders to attend and be attentive.

Opportunity discovery is key to demonstration credibility

The demonstration represents a unique opportunity to blow the prospect away with a credible solution to their problem. To build credibility you need to spend a lot more time doing discovery. The goal of this discovery is to build relationships with your prospect and learn as much as possible so you can reflect that knowledge in your demonstration.

Present, Future and Preference

A straightforward way of thinking about what needs to be discovered is Present, Future and Preference. You need to understand their present situation, their envisioned future state and any preferences they have for how they get to the future state [i.e. a mandated cloud strategy for deployment].

Demonstrate a real ROI

Remember that when we talk about Present, Future and Preference we are not just talking about the technical stuff. You need to understand who the present and future players are in the organisation. These are the people who need to assess your solution. You need to understand the industry they play in and what the future of that industry looks like. Helping a prospects executive understand how they can win in their industry is a great way of becoming a highly valued trusted advisor.

Hopefully in the discovery stage you have managed to determine their ROI preference.  Your job then is to make sure you demonstrate how that ROI will be achieved. Helping the prospect meet an ROI requirement is a key enabler for sales success.

Demonstrate only what customers need to see

I can’t stress how important this section is. I want you to think about all the software demonstrations you have sat in over the years. Think about how similar they are. A PowerPoint deck with company credibility statements followed by a run through of basic software functions followed by more complex functions and then finally a demonstration of how the software may solve the client’s problem. By the time, you get to the good bit you have very carefully put your prospect to sleep. We need to stop this.

Try turning things around. Get your prospects into a demonstration and start by showing them how your solution solves their problem. You will be amazed at what happens when you do this. If you have done the discovery diligently you will get an outstanding reaction. Trust me. I have been doing my demonstrations this way for a few years now.

You can still have your slide deck handy and later in the meeting the prospect may want to know more about your organisation and your history. By reversing the order, they will likely be more interested in this information as they are seriously looking at you as a potential solution partner.

One of the analogies used by Peter Cohen in his book “Great Demo” (see below) is that of an onion and the demonstration being the peeling back of the layers of an onion. You show the solution first (layer 1) and then you show other layers the prospect asks to see so that they can complete their assessment. You stop peeling layers when the prospect stops asking. Do not show them layers they have not asked to see.


Hopefully these tips will help you improve the quality of solutions you deliver into market whilst also allowing you to improve your solution close rates.

Final note: Remember the demonstration represents the best opportunity to prove yourself and your organisation as the most credible partner to help the prospect solve their problem or take advantage of their opportunity. Conversely, it is also the best opportunity to prove that your competitor is the best partner for the job. If you choose to put the extra effort into the demonstration you will beat your competitors more often and sell more deals.

To prepare for this event, we researched the four leading texts (based on Amazon sales) on the subject matter. I have included the details of these texts below if you are interested in more information.

If you would like to discuss this subject further please contact me.

The power of ‘No’….

I spend a lot of time working with professional sales people and am constantly surprised at the general resistance to using the word ‘No’ during a sales process. I find this particularly vexing because, in my experience, the word ‘No’ is probably the most powerful word you can use to achieve a great sales outcome.

From my perspective there are several occasions where using ‘No’ is powerful, here are two of them;

As a Trusted Adviser you need to say ‘No’ when it needs to be said – As a Trusted Advisor you bring a set of capabilities to your prospect that they do not have themselves. [or else why are you there?] Knowing that, it makes no sense to agree to a prospects requests that may be ill-considered just because you don’t want to upset the sale or because you don’t know the actual answer. A Trusted Advisor says ‘Yes’ when it is good for the prospect and ‘No’ when it is not good. Doing otherwise is not acting as a Trusted Advisor.

This positioning will generally reflect positively on you, clearly demonstrating that you have their best interests in mind. It will strengthen your positioning as a Trusted Advisor and makes the deal more likely to conclude successfully.

‘No’ will generally trigger the completion of a negotiation – Think about basic market haggling. It is not until one of the parties say ‘No’ that you have your first marker for either the upper or lower limit in the negotiation. The placement of that marker forces the other party to decide whether they are in or out. Most good negotiators I have dealt with will not finish negotiating until they get a ‘No’ as getting it is the only way they can be sure they have not left money on the table.

Now the downside here is that you say ‘No’ too early and skittle the deal or you say it too late and end up with an unprofitable deal. You still need to time the use of ‘No’ to ensure you get the right outcome.  That is your job as a professional executive or salesperson.

Now, I am not saying we should go around saying ‘No, No, No’ to everyone. In fact, most times I say ‘No’ it is couched a lot more sensitively and with a view to keeping the dialogue moving forward. Examples of ‘No’s’ that I would tend to use are;

1. In this case I can’t go that low however ….
2. I’d prefer to agree to …. because …
3. Thanks for that however I think it would work better for both of us if….
4. What if we thought of it differently? How does this sound …..

A good ‘No’ will always offer some explanation and leave room open for further discussion.

So next time you are moving through a sales process consider how ‘No’ can help get a better outcome for you, your organisation and for your potential new customer.

Project Requirements Management

What is it?

Requirements for a project need to be mined, compiled, analysed, negotiated, specified, validated, tracked, and updated during the life of a project. All of this has to take place within a controlled environment so that;

  1. All stakeholders know exactly what is to be delivered by the project team.
  2. There is governance placed around the authorising of changing requirements.
  3. The solution can be supported into the future.  i.e. new personnel can read the requirements and get a FULL understanding of the system intent.
  4. Each requirement can be traced back to a specific commercial outcome.

What can it look like?

The method of requirements delivery will vary from project to project normally based on project complexity.  As well as complexity the level or type of requirements management can vary for risk, cost or political purposes.  Here are some common project requirement configurations across simple, standard and complex project categories;

Each organisation may use different document titles however the purpose and content should be very similar.  Some organisations may also use a version system on each of the documents.  The core concept here is that collectively all requirements are trapped and documented.

 The Commercial Imperative?

The requirements delivery for a project is directly related to the projects commercial outcomes. Every requirement delivered should exist in one of the requirements documents and each of the requirements should have an associated commercial cost (even if it is $0). A problem we see too often is project teams failing to document $0 changes.  Whilst they may think that this is saving time on admin they are actually causing the following potential problems;

  1. Future support engineers may not be able to understand what was delivered by reviewing the documentation.
  2. They miss the opportunity to show the client what value add they have delivered [especially if there were multiple “no-charge” changes.
  3. Having a change made to the deliverable without the appropriate authorities knowledge or approval.

This diagram shows the accumulation of cost [or revenue if you are a service provider] that should attach to the requirements.

What happens when we get it WRONG?

Research tells us that approximately 50% of projects have a frustrated delivery and approximately 25% of projects have a complete failure to deliver.  Poor requirements management is a major contributor to both of these outcomes.

Failure to manage requirements can lead to any or all of the following NEGATIVE outcomes;

  1. Stakeholders feel they have lost control of the project and withdraw support.
  2. Unneeded requirements can be delivered.
  3. Critical requirements can be missed.
  4. Forward support of the solution can be costly and time consuming.
  5. The project can experience poor commercial outcomes.
  6. Loss of reputation from delivering a poor outcome.

The good news is that with proper planning and care any organisation can become good at project requirements management.  See our other blog posts for additional related information;

Avoid Implementation Issues – The Big Four.

Delivering a Great Requirements Document.

Poor Project Execution – The Hidden Costs.

At FileBound we would love to hear any thoughts you have around this subject matter.  Have we missed anything? Have you noticed similar outcomes?

Becoming the Trusted Advisor

As the world continues to change as does the role of the salesperson. In many ways the transformation of the sales team (and its members) is the most important transformation in any organisation for as we all know “nothing happens until someone sells something”.  In this blog we will be exploring the traits of the Trusted Advisor and why, now more than ever,  they are necessary traits for any professional salesperson.

So what is a Trusted Advisor?  Well the name really does present the answer.  It is a person who is not only trusted by others but is sought out by others for their advice.  The following diagram depicts the Trusted Advisor role in terms of the relationship between personal intent and functional capability (subject matter expertise).

Now we know where a Trusted Advisor sits in the Sales landscape we need to explore the traits that elevate a salesperson to this space.  There is plenty of literature on this topic but if I had to distil all that I have learned about the traits of a Trusted Advisor here is the list I would present;

1. A Trusted Advisor has intent for the long term. To do this the Trusted Advisor will seek an understanding of the prospect / customers strategic objectives as well as their tactical objectives.

2. A Trusted Advisor is a problem solver and is not afraid to lead with ideas.  Trusted Advisors are malleable in their understandings and are just as happy to learn as to teach.

3. Trusted Advisors have an accountable and accessible nature.  They are happy to own their missteps (and those of their team) and work transparently to correct them.  They understand that when conditions are at their worst, they need to be at their best.  They are easy to contact and always return messages.

4. Trusted Advisors bring the required resources to the table to solve problems.  The Trusted Advisor understands that they are not experts at everything and have a strong network of accessible colleagues and technical resources they can call on to help solve their prospect / customers problems.

5. A Trusted Advisor see’s their role as a continuing role with their prospect / customer.  They don’t relax once they have delivered an outcome, they simply move on to the next opportunity.

So why is being a Trusted Advisor so important now?

Well historically a salesperson would be coached to take a ‘Trusted Advisor’ position only for high value solution sales.  This is still the case for these high value solution sales and is as important as it ever has been.  Contrast that with salesperson selling box products.  These salespeople were coached to focus on features and benefits and were not necessary burdened with taking this higher order role with their prospects / customers.  This was a commercial necessity as the box product sales generally had a very low margin level and the cost of sale was very important.  The Trusted Advisor approach to selling is a higher cost approach.  In the past the box product salesperson had one job and that was to make sure the prospect / customer clearly understood their products features and benefits including their “Key Value Proposition”.  Their role was to continue to communicate these messages so when the decision point was reached by the prospect / customer they would ultimately choose their box over all other boxes in the marketplace.

Fast forward to the modern day and we now find ourselves in a world where many buyers are able to educate themselves online.  They can effectively learn about your products features and benefits (including the “Key Value Proposition”) without you. They can research other buyer’s journeys and experiences with your products globally from multiple online networks.  The buyer has effectively made the traditional box product salespersons role redundant.  So what is your role now?

If you are a box product salesperson and you continue to engage the prospect / customer the way you always have you run the risk of losing credibility.  They do not need you to tell them what they already know and if you see that as your job you are missing a huge opportunity.  They are craving a deeper relationship.  This is your opportunity to become the Trusted Advisor.  What is important now is understanding what they are trying to achieve and helping them achieve it with your products and services.

If you are a high value solutions salesperson then you need to continue to act as the Trusted Advisor and exhibit the traits associated with the role.  Hopefully this blog has re-affirmed your commitment to this methodology and motivated you to elevate your sales performance to the next level.

Delivering a Great Requirements Document

When thinking about or being tasked with capturing a customer’s detailed requirements, beyond the high-level Business requirements … for me, it’s hard not to immediately draw mental pictures of that well referenced tree swing analogy. For those not familiar with the analogy it simply points out that without proper requirement definition a customer looking for a tree swing could have any of the swings in the illustration delivered to them.

Purposely jumping off the tree swing for a moment… and focusing on software solution marketplace with its vast product range with a plethora of configurations, outcomes and customer experiences, it has never been more important to queue up those powerhouse discovery questions to ensure that you have accurately and clearly understood both the functional and non-functional requirements of your customer. If we do this we avoid delivering the wrong outcome for the client.

A functional requirement typically describes the behaviour (such as automated workflow) or presentation of a configured component that meets the specific needs of the customer, whereas a non-functional requirement describes the systems operation… such as a Web Servers Availability etc.

My Top DO’s and DON’T on Producing Great Requirements Documents

DOHave a sound understanding of the customers high-level Business Requirements prior to meeting with them to perform the deeper dive discovery.
Ask a series of unnecessary/repetitive questions where the information has already been provided in advance. This opens your ‘incompetence account’ with the customer and doesn’t build the necessary rapport or credibility for downstream engagements which are required to deliver success.
DOSchedule a Discovery Session with all applicable stakeholders, communicating in advance a structured approach with an agenda or at a minimum a simple email to highlight discussion points for the Discovery session.
Avoid the inclusion of the IT Manager and/or Senior IT Representative in your Discovery session.

DOUse the phone wherever possible to help qualify any gaps in understanding of the customer’s requirements. Verbal communications result in far fewer misinterpretations of conveyed information over those which can occur in a series of detailed emails.
Fill the Requirements document with verbose, non-specific or redundant content (e.g. marketing content) that doesn’t help define or qualify the customers’ requirements for review and approval.
DOUse a very good healthy balance of quality images, screenshots and diagrams to present your clean understanding of the customer requirements in your proposed technology.   Microsoft Visio is my go to application of choice.
Make wild and nonsensical assumptions, when they can be solved with a short call or a qualifying email.
DODocument the specific non-functional requirements for success even if they are requirements for the client to deliver on. IE IT landscape changes needed, additional staff training needed etc
DOScale the length and depth of Requirements detail with respect to the level of complexity of the solution delivered. See Solution Complexity to Requirement Detail Chart below.

Using the Correct Weight Approach

Following on from my last ‘DO’ recommendation, Requirement documents should contain the appropriate weight of detail/content to be classed as an ‘efficient document’. Obviously producing an overly wordy document for a small, yet simple project can frustrate many customers as they struggle to digest all of the details. On the flip side unconsciously leaving a lot of important detail out OR left only to verbal references will effectively leave the gate WIDE open for assumptions to be made on all sides. Poorer outcomes are consistently achieved when this lack of detail and specification exists within the documentation.

Solution Complexity to Requirement Detail Chart

Hopefully some of these quick tips will help you produce superior requirements documents for your projects.
Contribution By:

Tony Smith

Former Professional Services Director

Engaged Humans

I have been watching the rise in research around Employee Engagement with fascination. The initial research was about the employee that is engaged versus the employee that is disengaged. 

The Engaged Employee is enthusiastic and gives liberally of their time, efforts and ideas. They are invested in the company vision and mission and feel fulfilled doing their work. 

Unfortunately research points to less than one third of employees being engaged at work. That is troubling but at least it is understood and there are many ways of improving this situation that are easy to understand and implement (I will cover in a future blog).

The next steps in our collective understanding of engagement then led to Engaged Managers and then Engaged Followers. I have described both of those below lending a fair portion of the Gallup organisation content.

Engaged Managers

A managers engagement or otherwise directly impacts (up to 70% impact) employee engagement. An employee’s Manager Experience is proving to be absolutely vital to organisational success. Here are some recent Gallup research findings;

Millennials say that “quality of manager” is a top factor they consider when looking for a new job.

When managers play an active role in onboarding, employees are 2.5 times more likely to strongly agree their onboarding was exceptional.

Managers account for an astounding 70% of the variance in their team’s engagement.

Only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

Fifty-two percent of exiting employees say that their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job. Nevertheless, only 51% of employees who left their job had a conversation about their engagement, development or future during the three months leading up to their departure.

The mind boggles at the social and financial cost of the disengaged manager.

So what happens when you have an Engaged Manager with an Engaged Employee? You get Engaged Followership.

Engaged Followership

Engaged followers are employees that share responsibility for their engagement with their leadership.

These engaged employees are 10 times more likely to take creative risks than disengaged employees.

If that is not enough of a reason to try and create engaged followers then prepare for worse news.

Based on Gallup’s most recent bestseller, It’s the Manager, “a competitor needs to pay an employee over 20% more to get them to switch jobs if that employee is engaged. If an employee is disengaged, they will leave for almost any increase in salary.” Also of concern is that the disengaged employee will keep their head down and feign engagement before they leave. This gives you the minimum notice and no ability to properly plan for the transition.

All of these insights got me thinking about the best employee / employer relationships I have had in my experience. In reflecting on the best ones, I could not help but draw a parallel with our best customer relationships. That led me to think about the differences between Engaged Customers and Disengaged Customers.

Engaged Customers

For people close to me it is nearly impossible that you have not heard me espousing the benefits of having a mature Customer Success Program. We are into the second year of ours and we can clearly see that by altering our approach to focus on our value to our customers, we are creating a significant increase in customer engagement. We found out very quickly that the more engaged a customer is the better the outcomes we both get. 

So what is an Engaged Customer? An Engaged Customer is willing to expend effort helping us as they understand the more they help us the better the results we can give them. They often see us as a valuable extension of their organisation. They start to care for our team members as we do theirs. We have also had multiple instances of the customers helping us create new products and services. They are also very keen to assist in our success by acting as a referee and recommending us to their peer group. Having Engaged Customers is one of the greatest experiences I have had in my business life.  

So it seems “Engagement” at all these levels creates enormous value. It is exciting that the value is financial and social. Engaged humans genuinely enjoy their time in and out of work significantly more than a disengaged human. I can’t help but think that if we can improve human engagement at work we may be able to stem the rising levels of anxiety and depression in our society.

So I guess the key question is how do we collectively lift the engagement of humans?