When all things are same and equal “customer centricity” offers the additional pip to those IT service providers who adopt it.
Let us take a simple example of evaluating a tool for a customer need, it would be very simple and convenient for the service provider to recommend a tool that he or she partners with or has built expertise on. But that would be making light of customer needs, that is being product centric rather than customer centric.
Consider the fact that not every tool is good for everything. A customer centric service provider, while evaluating the tool that would solve a specific customer problem needs to keep in mind “what’s necessary and sufficient” rule. Even before recommending a feature-rich tool, which comes with heavy licensing cost, one needs to ask “Does the customer need all the features that he is paying for? now or in future”. An optimal evaluation of today’s needs and a decent evaluation of tomorrow’s growth is a MUST to make it to the evaluation criteria.
Further, when selecting a tool, that too an enterprise one, the tool should address both the technology and the business process challenges. In a highly integrated environment of today, there are no tools that don’t have some impact on the organization’s stakeholders, be it technical, operations, finance etc.
So what broadly are the technical/user challenges that a new tool should answer?
In the existing scenario, What is the ease of deployment? Can it integrate with the existing IT infrastructure? Does the tool offer Agility? Can it handle varying business scenarios? If it is an Enterprise class tool that relies heavily on its own proprietary technology, how inflexible is it? Can the enterprise software be integrated with the existing systems? Can it be used to satisfy needs outside of its primary use? As stated earlier, if the tool is going to be critical to the firm’s operation, it needs to interface with nearly every other part of the organization! Otherwise, it is a merely and isolated system that only performs a narrow set of tasks.
In the future, Does the software grow with the business? Software tools need to scale, that too Enterprise software in particular. Though initially, the software could only be used by a few dozen users, in couple of years, hundreds of users may depend on it. Can the software handle this load? Does the licensing allow for load balancing, dynamic data storage, backups and failover? What about disaster recovery? Can it be installed in multiple data centers globally? These are questions that ensure the software doesn’t just solve the problem at hand, but can grow into future needs. These limitations can easily add on to the cost in the coming years.
From the user point of view, does the tool have a steep learning curve? If this tool is going to be accessed by a large number of users, can it be used by users with varying degrees of technical knowledge? Is the tool user friendly, intuitive, and easy to learn? Navigating complex menus, constant techno babble and awkward prompts can leave the users frustrated. How long does it take to accomplish a task? How many different windows need to be accessed to do one thing? Does the system give the user feedback when they do something correctly or incorrectly?
While the above questions are being answered for the technical and user teams, the business or the finance users will want to qualify them on the below questions.
How much does the software tool cost? Is the software license limited by processor cores, users, or server installations? What is the license cost? Maintenance cost? Server cost? Implementation cost? Training cost? Software and hardware upgrade cost? The Cost that looks the smallest today might grow exponentially if you don’t foresee and match the business growth with the mandated IT growth.
Now, here is how simple it is, answers the above questions and you would have brought customer centricity automatically to the evaluation process.
For a customer centric IT organization, the focus is not on the product but on the customer.