Actors: Consultant (Jerry) and Client (Tom)
Tom: So now that you know my needs; can you tell me what is the percentage fitment for the product you are recommending?
Jerry: Well, this depends on how you see it; but I can assure you it’s a good fitment. Nothing will meet your needs out of the box.
Tom: Can you be more specific? What is the fitment in percentage terms – 40%, 60% or 80%
Jerry: Ok, let me get back to you on this by tomorrow
Jerry lists out all requirements and puts them in an excel sheet; gives a fitment of – ‘Out of Box’, ‘Customization’, ‘Not Applicable’ to each requirement line. And yes, here is the pivot with number of requirements in each bracket. Ready for next day
Jerry: Good Morning Tom; here is the analysis. As I had mentioned yesterday you have a 70% fitment; 20% will be met with customization and 10% are not possible with the product. Net-Net a good 70% fitment is what I see here.
Tom: Hmmn. Looks ok to me. Let’s discuss the statement of work.
Jerry: Sure, Drinks anyone??
Well, I would not like to spoil the party here; but guess there is an inherent anomaly in the above approach. And it is not only the consultants, but the clients also to be blamed for that.
Consultants for not bringing out the perspective to the client and the client for his hurriedness in getting a budget sign-off overlooks that this ‘percentage’ seen in isolation is like asking a question to a married couple – “What is the percentage compatibility between you?”. Can you get an honest answer or do the parties have a mechanism to simply tell this? I am married for 5 years and do not have an answer to that yet.
This small question – “What is the percentage fitment?” assumed a lot of things –
- All requirement lines are of equal importance
- All requirement lines are of equal impact (i.e. if they are not met)
- All requirement lines will require equal effort to achieve in the product
- All requirements lines are independent and have no cross-dependencies (parent-child relationships)
- All requirements lines define the universal set of business needs and there are no further changes foreseen
- All requirements lines have an equal risk profile
My personal approach is to consider all the above parameters and then come out with a fitment which is a true indicator of the amount of effort, time, resources and cost which the client would incur to achieve the envisaged business benefits.
There could be 90% of the lines available out of box but remaining 10% may need an effort which is 10 times the effort required for meeting 90% needs and the risk may be much higher as lot of ground-up customizations can lead to higher chances of failure as well.
On the other hand; another product may be meeting only 60% of the requirement lines, but the remaining 40% may be met with simpler customizations. This can be due to ‘framework’ nature of the product i.e. the product could have been developed in such a way that it provides the basic framework with all business functionalities leaving it to the service providers to customize it to the need of the client. It need not be over-engineered and boast of best-of-breed features which are never used.
I call this paradigm as “Total Benefits & Solution Fitment Framework”. This may take more time; but this gives a better insight into the ‘compatiblity aspect’ which is necessary for this marriage to last. Please feel free to express your views on this.
And before i take your leave-
Tom, Hope you have got the point. I am very much on your side!
Jerry, No offense, was just trying to help!