“In the past 25 years, many of you have discovered some truly inventive uses for Excel.” This quote is from an email I received from Microsoft celebrating 25 years of Excel use. I have to admit, the statement is true to its word. Excel can be a powerful tool that enables clever people to creatively solve problems. However, from my perspective — through the eyes of a Software Developer — Excel frequently offers a good short-term solution but exhibits long-term limitations.
The economic struggles of the past few years caused companies in many industries to strive to improve effectiveness while concurrently decreasing costs. Some have named this phenomenon “The Drive to Do More with Less.” The integration of technology into a business strategy is often the first place to look for ideas for improvement. However, the path toward optimal business processes and strategic advantage may be foggy, especially for companies that are not technology-based. Unstoppable Software’s experience has shed light on this topic, clearing the way for the following advice.
In the previous article in this series, we covered the first step to being a trustworthy consultant - establishing a personal business relationship with your clients.
There’s a great “Demotivators” poster out there that reads: “Consulting - If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.” While this poster is of course tongue-in-cheek, it’s also somewhat sad, because it shows how mistrustful and bitter many companies have become towards consultants in general. Why have they become this way? Let’s face it - this industry can be a dirty one, full of smiling faces who will tell you all about how wonderful their solution is, or how wonderful your idea is, all the while not caring about your company’s actual problem, and all the while billing like mad to do so. For many consulting firms, each client is just a means to an end - something to line their pockets with until they can find the next big score.
We all know the situation - you’re working on a technology project, and while it would be great to do something the “right way”, time and budget constraints force you to take a shortcut, buy a cheaper piece of hardware, or even just leave a somewhat important feature out of your project.