Here are some tips to streamline the relationship issues with customers and vendors as they creep up during the implementation of enterprise software and technology projects.
We try to put all of these in practice at LincWare as often as possible. Oh, and we’ve earned a 100% customer retention rate, so there has to be something in here worth a look.
1. Set clear goals
All projects require goals. They don’t need to be formal or over-planned, but everyone should clearly understand the vision of the project and their role in it. When collaborating with vendors, make sure they buy into your organization goals, especially if the technology implementation is aligned with business processes, which is common in the sphere of ECM.
2.Have a kick off meeting
It’s really important for everyone to learn each other’s names and establish individual roles. (You can leave the “Hello, my name is” stickers at home, though.) There is something humanizing about working with a vendor on a first name basis. You can try something fun and break to the mold a bit, like having everyone introduce themselves, tell everyone their favorite breakfast cereal, and share one other interesting fact about themselves. You’d be surprised at how willing people are to share! Don’t push it though, no one really cares about your cats.
3. Avoid the “CC” and “Reply All” buttons
Seriously. If you are in the habit of pushing “reply all”, you are an evil person. Really, Hell is clearing space for you people. I highly recommend the “BCC” field when someone needs to be informed about something, but you don’t want to clog up their inbox. For the sake of all of us, just avoid replying all. And don’t “forward” as much either. The original e-mail was meant for you and sent by someone else. In truth, the forwarding party was not the intended audience. Practice some restraint, even if the lack of it is the sole reason for Google’s world dominance.
4. Plan for change
Work with your vendor to establish a formal procedure for change management. For example, consider: How will you agree on changes? How do you determine costs? What are new deadlines? All of these should be addressed in your change management plans.
5. Status meetings
Just like going to your dentist for a regular checkup, you and your vendor should have regular status meetings. They can be as often as you like, but at least a phone call or Skype video chat every quarter is recommended. You can even use things like FaceTime for the iPhone to connect face to face. Or use an iPad, which amazingly supports the LD-Mobile app. Huh; how about that?
6. Use social media
It’s called social for a reason, you hermit. Take advantage of tools like Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging to communicate more efficiently. These mediums are a great way to connect outside of the regular “grind,” and let’s be honest, its way more fun.