MM042 – How solutions can increase perceived value
We all encounter problems during our daily routines, in the end what makes the difference between a good solution or a bad one is how we choose to approach them. The approach, this term is overloading the web and it is getting used more and more every day, sometimes it sounds like a word with no meaning, as a way of doing things in an excessively reflective way, which may lead to a waste of time. Well, in the majority of cases the approach alone defines how you tackle the problem and how you intend to solve it.
This subject is extremely relevant for consultancy firms, regardless of the field and the operations they are working within. By analyzing a standard relationship with the client, we understand that consultancy activities come from an existing need of the client. This is the starting line, here the one-million-dollar questions arise
- How can we fulfill this need?
- Is that what they really need?
The former is the question the clients like the most, it is very often related to the existing problem they have and therefore when the consultant answers the question and solves the problem that’s more than enough. The latter, however, is where perceived and intrinsic value are increased. In fact, this is not a question we ask the client but ourselves.
This process of course relies on the assumptions that we have the competencies and knowledge related to the industry to which the client belongs. We try to mine under the surface and discover which are the solutions leading to better performance, be it a process or an IT environment. When all the reasoning of the team involved in the project comes to an end, we call the client saying “Hey, you know what, maybe in this section of the application and in this business process you are carrying out we could improve by doing this….”
At this point two different scenarios take place, and as in every scenario’s evaluation, there is a best-case and a worst-case. The former entails the approval of the proposed solution which in turn leads to the put-in production. Sometimes, however, the clients are not able to understand how the new solution would better off their processes and if they do, they are not willing to pay more.
In this case, all we have left to do is try to express our idea and how, in practice, the new solution would make a difference both from an operational and financial perspective.
As we clearly see from the image above, the word perceived is key in this equation. Meaning that even if a technical backgrounded consultant tends to see value in an objective way, what matters, in the end, is how the client perceives it, and this process involves both operational and psychological processes. A good representation of this way of seeing value is given by Jeffrey Gitomer:
“Value first is a perception. If your customer does not perceive it as value, then it’s not very valuable”
Now let’s see how this concept has been applied to a real case.
The client, working on Oil&Fuel area, has a full system Oracle APEX applicative solution with which they basically handle all the operations of their business model such as:
- Products database
The actual state of the application may be considered good overall, however there are some criticalities related to differences between data stored from ERP and in Oracle APEX. The ERP represents the master while Oracle Apex is the slave that permits to modify quickly and easily the data. In every project where we have 2 system its basically define which is the master and which is the slave. This, of course, yields issues when it comes to both warehouse evaluation and invoices.
The standard way to tackle these kinds of problems is basically to solve them one by one. Nothing wrong with this approach for sure, however, the nature of these requests is characterized by high frequency and low effort. So, we found ourselves working on a lot of e-mails every day doing very small, often simple, tasks.
Coming now, to the actual path we followed to offer a scalable solution. At first, due to the urgency of the client’s requests, we started performing the database updates and data manipulation fixing the discrepancies and obtain the right data visualization. This is how we fulfilled the need.
After a few weeks, we started working on new implementations with the aim of reducing the number of issues received and increase the overall value of the Oracle APEX application, making it more flexible and capable of uploading Products databases directly from the application, showing the issued products helping the client in finding differences with ERP Master data.
In this case, it must be said, the new solutions were accepted without hesitation by the client. This was because the perceived benefits are way higher than the perceived costs and therefore it sounds convenient. It is perceived as valuable.
This way of working is also very valuable for the consultancy firm. It brings a competitive advantage over competitors; in fact, the client perceives the initiative and the attitude in solving the problem, and more often than not this leads to a healthy relationship that may become durable and profitable.