Back in the 70’s and 80’s there was a saying that went something like, “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM“. This was back when IBM was the defacto standard for computing and consultancy. IBM was the clear “safe bet” at the time. If a project went badly, it was IBM’s fault, not the person who decided to bring them in. You can’t argue with their logic of hiring the “best”.

The Best?

Things have changed a lot in the decades since IBM was the clear choice. Today, IBM rarely even makes the short-list. When it comes to business applications, the typical companies under consideration are Salesforce.com, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, etc. Like IBM in its heyday, these are also big applications, and when compared to the numerous smaller or start-up offerings, are considered to be the “safest” bets today. But another thing has changed.

You’re Fired!

It seems that businesses have decided, that with more choice comes more responsibility. If you picked SAP and it went badly, you would hear “Why didn’t you go with Salesforce.com?”, or any combination of who you picked vs. who you should have picked. There is a lot of Monday Morning Quarterbacking going on in boardrooms. Clearly making a decision like this carries great risk financially for your company, but also to you personally, and your career plans. This is not meant to scare you, it’s just the reality for many these days. But Fired? Really?

Cost of Error

Few people have ever been fired for ordering the wrong coffee for the office. But implementing a Business Application is another story. At least it is a little less risky today with cloud solutions than it was with on-premise systems. Back then, expensive hardware and costly perpetual licenses needed to be acquired before you could even start the journey. Thankfully, those expenses are no longer part of the risk equation, but other significant ones remain. Picking the wrong solution, approach or partner could still have devastating financial impacts. It is a faux pas here that has led to some firings, a few even spectacular!

Minimizing Risk

If you are charged with implementing a Business Solution for your organization it probably means two things, a) you failed to get out of it like everyone else did, and b) many eyes are watching you. Even if you are secure enough that your job is not at risk, the remaining risks are significant, to your company and your reputation. So a smart person will want to minimize as many risks as possible. There are really four primary areas of risk, so let’s explore each.

Solution

There is no one business solution that is categorically better than all others. There are a lot of opinions, but they are not a good barometer of whether one or the other will be right for you. Ignore the branding and fanboy noise. Focus on what you are trying to accomplish and on marrying up capabilities with your requirements. Opinions, unless they are from people you know, who are also in a similar business, are pointless and distracting. Think about what your current needs are, and try to think about what your future needs might be, and give equal weight to both. Make sure you have a clear understanding of licensing, as this will be your biggest cost over time. Complicated licensing and downplayed additional costs are the norm, but understanding these can have an enormous impact.

Approach

The opposite of fired would probably be Hero! But be aware that many would-be heros ended up getting fired… for trying to be heroes, and failing miserably. Often these heros tried to make their mark by going big! Going Big increases the risk exponentially. To successfully go big, you will need a large checkbook and a lot of patience from your team, if you have both, then go for it. Otherwise, it makes sense to minimize risk by scaling down your efforts and focusing on the areas that cause the most pain for you organization. “Digital Transformation” is a destination with a lot of stops along the way.

Partner

The odds are high that you will need a partner to some degree, depending on your organization’s internal capabilities. While the number of solution options may seem relatively small, the number of partners supporting all of those solutions is vast. It is estimated that over three-quarters of Business Application implementations fail to meet expectations, and half never get launched at all. The partner selected is a major contributor to this statistic. Take the salesperson with grain of salt, and get right to, “who are the team that will be doing this?”. When you are offered three references, ask for ten more. Make sure you understand fully the Statement of Work. If you are unclear, get clarity. This is the primary document that a partner will use to beat you over the head with later. Don’t skim/sign it.

Your People

This is another significant risk factor. Even if you picked the right solution, approach and partner, it could all be for naught if your team does not hold up their end. Many well conceived and executed implementations, ultimately failed when the users did not use them at all, or use them actively enough to get the desired benefits. You might be able to avoid blame by pointing at your users, but you should have understood, and prepared for what it was going to take to gain adoption.

Other Risks

In addition to the above risks, there are other risks to consider. While lost money may ultimately be made up for over time, the wasted time and effort is gone for good. Even the money is subject to the “Time Value of Money” doctrine that “a dollar in your hand today is worth more than a dollar you will receive in the future”, so recovering from a big financial mistake could take a very long time. Cloud brings advantages, but it also brings risks. The vendor may change or deprecate features you were counting on, or raise prices. Your partner could create a house of cards that only they can decipher, creating lock-in.

No Risks?

Is it possible to eliminate 100% of the risks? You can get pretty close by minimizing and focusing your effort. One way to do that is with our RapidStartCRM solution. From a solution standpoint, it is built on the same platform that Microsoft Dynamics 365 is built on, so you get the reliability and security you need. It is a PowerApp designed as an accelerator to quickly build an application that meets your needs, minimizing time and expense. The ongoing licensing cost starts at $40USD/user/month.  From an Approach standpoint, we designed this specifically for the “start small and grow over time” path to success. This also provides for an ROI very quickly. From a Partner standpoint, RapidStartCRM is built and supported by Forceworks Global, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, led by a Microsoft Business Applications MVP. From a People standpoint, RapidStartCRM was specifically designed to be easy to use and adopt quickly.

The best way to minimize risk is to build something specific, quickly, that is easy to use, at a low cost. That is RapidStartCRM!