Enterprise software deployments are an exciting time for customer and vendor alike. For the customer, a big enterprise software purchase typically comes at the end of a months-long evaluation process, driven by a critical business challenge that needs solving yesterday. For the vendor, the deployment process kicks off what is hopefully a long-term partnership of growth and value delivery. Both sides come together with sky-high expectations.
As with most big projects, the success of enterprise software deployments comes down to team work. Sure, the technology is important. But at the end of the day, the cooperation of the people involved on both the vendor and customer side will ultimately determine the overall success. By following a few simple rules, you can ensure your next enterprise software deployment exceeds expectations.
Form One Team
Rolling out a new technology to a large organization requires a diverse group to come together — including (but not limited to) IT and data engineers, analysts, subject matter experts, consultants, customer support representatives, marketers, executives, etc. The list could go on. Not only is the number of participants large but it is drawn from both the vendor and the customer side.
Rather than seeing the project as being staffed by vendor and customer teams, it’s important to create a single project team where, regardless of who writes your paycheck, every participant is fully invested in the success of the solution. This means that every single member of the team has a clear understanding of the expected value of the software, the KPIs that will measure that value, and the tactics the collective team will undertake to deliver that. At Narrative Science, we’ve found that it’s helpful to spend some time upfront as a team defining and documenting roles for enterprise deployments and creating a shared team checklist. This helps everyone involved understand expectations and alleviates ambiguity around ownership of tasks and metrics.
Speak the Same Language
Every large organization — from corporations to governments, from universities to sports leagues — has its own internal language. Members of these groups share not only the same vocabulary (often filled with acronyms and ever evolving nicknames) but also a set of standards on how to communicate to each other. For vendors, it’s essential that the customer’s preferences shape how information flows between the two sides.
Start by asking the customer project leads about how they would like to receive updates and who needs to be on the distribution list. For example, is their organization the type that likes quick weekly phone calls? Or maybe their senior managers need a formal deck presented in person once a month? When they think of the best work they’ve done with a vendor, what did that company do that set them apart? Simply asking these questions shows a genuine desire to be the best possible enterprise partner.
Learn From Each Other
Vendors know their technology; enterprise customers know their business and industry. While the Venn diagram of expertise may overlap, it’s important that both sides enter the partnership realizing that there is much to be learned from each other.
Vendors can especially benefit from remembering that every enterprise customer, even those that operate in an industry the company knows well and services often, has unique business challenges and processes. Taking the time to understand this as the partnership begins is critical. Discuss what the largest pain points of the business are early on. Ask how the customer differentiates themselves from their nearest competitors (and especially how your technology can help with that). On the customer side, lean on your vendor to use their expertise to push you to solutions and ideas that have been proven value creators in your industry, even if they are a bit outside of your comfort zone. This learning and teaching dynamic will challenge the whole team and drive stronger outcomes as a result.