Harsh title I know but do I have your attention?

I have noticed that there is a level of negativity that exists around what a Sage SalesLogix Business partner should or should not know. It bothers me when this kind of discussion ensues because its generally targeted as some arbitrary feature/API method and in my opinion misses the mark substantially. First of all determining the capabilities of any services company based on the obscure is just wrong and usually is not an indicator of their capability to deliver.

There are just so many moving parts today that it is important to be able to filter out the important from the white noise. That being said there is a need for solid foundation skills as our collective customer base requires more for their budget dollars. The ability to transition from platform to integration development, to know and have a strong understanding of the collective technologies in any work plan and to provide strong and practical support moving forward. The ability to just get it done is one that should not be overlooked and be embraced and I suspect from an consulting point of view there is going to be more of this kind of work in the future and less in the process driven requirements development up front. We see this in agile but it really make’s sense in a CRM consulting world.

Take an inventory of your in-house skills and figure out if you are ready to move forward.

  • What development languages can you support (C#, VB.net, Java). VB6 does not cut it anymore. Databases ?
  • SQL, Oracle. Pattens, Library development .. can you provide solutions based on well known patterns, are you building up the next generation libraries to offer your customers the best bang for your buck.
  • 3rd partly libraries .. are you familiar with some of the 1st tier UI libraries, can you offer your customers better experiences to increase user adoption rates.
  • New technologies, are you familiar with/or played with web services, RIA applications, Share Point, WF, WPF, SilverLight, ORM (NHibernate or Other).
  • Understand Change Control, Unit Testing, Modularizing the code. This is an important thing moving forward. Being able to write the code in such a way that it can be tested (automated is preferred). It can be versioned and managed from a team stance.
  • How are your people skills? This is an important one, being able to adapt and wear many hats it the Consultants bread and butter. The more capable your resources are the more value they are to your customers. If one resource is capable of doing the job of 2 (not in workload, but in raw capability) the customer will perceive value

So back to the title … The only one who has the right to say ‘You Suck’ is your customer, and if you do not provide the capability you need to acquire the skills. If you are not capable of getting up to speed, partner with another BP to help bootstrap the process. That being said there are also times when there is just too much work, or a current project takes skills outside of the core competency. Again seek out a neutral BP that you can work with to satisfy the customers needs, doing so will reinforce your desire to make your customer happy.

– Mark

4 Comments

  1. Another aspect to the problem is that not every business partner should not accept business from every SLX customer. If the infrastructure were stronger, there would be less fear associated with handing off parts of a project to partners who are stronger in some particular area of expertise such as Oracle or C# or native C++ programming. Attempting to be a master of all those areas you mention, is probably not practical for many BP’s that were steeped in the old ways of Cypress and its VB6 syntax. Some BP’s will never get to the other side of the old ways, others were here already and SLX just beginning to catch up to the real world.

    Vic

  2. Vic, I agree that BP could be more selective on the type of work they take based on their core compentencies. However I know this is not a practical expectation. BPs are going to do whats required to close deals and from time to time, commiting to work that they are not capabile of doing in house, or at least not without a lot of bleeding. Development work is rarley an equation of 1+1=2 as generally the complexity curve goes up exponentially when you are out of your domain of expertiese. I really think in months and years to come you will some some BPs pair up, or consolidate businesses and some will go out of business because of the incapability of keeping up with the technology requirements of todays market place.

    – Mark

  3. Mark,

    It seems that in today’s climate every business partner is striving to ensure they make every last dollar. A concept of doing what is best for the client is starting to fall secondary. That is one reason the push from Sage has been to better the relationship between the end client and the BP’s/Vendor. The entire push should be doing what is right, if that means leaning on someone to provide an expertise that your group doesn;t have at this point then do so. A percentage of something is better than a pissed off client and migration to SF.com, where you now have lost everything.

    Keep the client happy, the software working and every lil thing will be alright

  4. Excellent post Mark. I completely agree. The problem is that the BP community is full of old timers that have this fear of partnering up with other BPs. I don’t understand why that is. Seems that mucking their way through a project just to keep it “in-house”, rather than partner up with someone else who has the needed expertise is a route that many choose. Many (or most) BPs out there have come from a business background, not a development one. There was a time in SLX history that business types could get by with limited programming knowledge and get the job done fine. That is no longer the case. The new SLX platform, even with it’s codeless customization capabilities, requires someone who possesses at least some .NET development skills to get the job done. The harm that can be done by someone who “monkey’s around” and figures the minimum out to get the job done (via copy/past code they find online) is far greater now. I’m not saying that you have to have a CS degree to work with SLX, but if you don’t have deep programming experience, it’s time to improve. There are ways to do that to keep up with the curve. Above all, it’s OK to outsource to those who have the expertise you need – so the customer can be satisfied and you can learn from what was produced.

    It’s time for us to recognize what our strengths and weaknesses are and be OK with the fact that we all cannot be experts at everything. Partnering up when needed is a good choice, a smart choice.

    -Ryan

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