By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO

Does anyone else sell a service that’s hard to explain? You know what it is. Your prospects think they know what it is. But it’s hard to convey what this service actually entails. The real issue is that the service is hardly ever the same thing twice. Depending on the customer’s needs and knowledge, it can be completely different every time you sell it. For us, that service is software implementations.

We do many things surrounding the implementation of software. Sometimes we write business requirements. Sometimes we write programming specifications. Sometimes we just work alongside our customers to answer questions and reinforce their thoughts. What’s always true is that we adapt our implementation services to whatever a customer needs. But how do you explain that to a prospect without sounding like you’re tap dancing or trying to be all things to all people?

What’s most frustrating is that almost all companies need some kind of help with implementations. The ones that think they need it least probably need it most. Some insurance companies think acknowledging that need is a sign a weakness — or that using outside help to implement a new system reflects badly on their IT departments. Some software vendors think fulfilling that need is their job and theirs alone.

None of that is true. But what’s almost always true is that software implementations are prone to trouble without objective outside help.

Implementation services aren’t about someone doing work for you that you don’t know how to do yourself. They’re about objectivity, reinforcement, different perspectives, complementary expertise. You lay out the plan. Someone else reviews it, gives feedback on it, and helps to execute it. Even the best authors use editors.

For some companies it’s about time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do their regular jobs and spec, implement, and test a new system. The right partner can take direction from you and your staff members, do the work, and report back to you. Using a partner doesn’t mean losing control.

The choice is yours, of course. But you just might be choosing between success and failure.