I frequently get the question “what does your firm do?” After all, we are a small firm with a name that doesn’t tie to our work product like AutoTire or Dunkin Donuts. I get it – HL Group isn’t obvious. But, the common answer for firms like ours is that we provide IT Solutions – or some variation of that theme.
To many people “providing IT Solutions” means that we create computer programs. That’s partially true. A key portion of what we do is to create an IT system – in our case an Asset Management product. But that is only one part of what we do. We create solutions that solve problems for our clients.
So what does that mean?
We’ve been creating Asset Management and Supply Chain solutions for years. Early on, some of those solutions were more successful than others, to be honest. But through the trial and error of those early efforts, we’ve honed an approach that we believe ensures a successful, long-term solution for our client’s problems.
This approach includes two key components:
- Definition: You need to understand the problem to effectively create a solution.
- Transition: A solution will never solve any problems unless it is successfully encompassed into operations.
These two components, along with the system that we configure, are the main pieces of our client solutions. Obviously, the system itself is the meat of the solution. However, it’s been our experience that without the other two, whatever IT system you build won’t succeed. In fact, without the others, you’re just setting that effort up for failure.
While you’d think that Definition and Transition would be obvious, but they are frequently glossed over – or neglected altogether. We’ve found that these are services are critical, invaluable, and the thoroughness with which they are delivered will determine how successful our work will be. I know that sounds a little over-the-top, but that has been our proven result with our clients (both on the positive and negative side) – and recently our experience internally.
An Alternate View
This year, we’ve had the opportunity to work with some solution providers for some internal system needs. It was an interesting – and eye-opening – experience being on the client-side of the table. It really reinforced my beliefs in our approach to solution delivery.
For a few of these vendors, it truly was all about the system component – as seems to be the case for many more organizations than I realized. Many rushed to solve our “problem” without really taking the time to understand what it was, how we got here, what we felt were the implications for the future. It was frustrating to have our concerns about things dismissed as not being important or things that we didn’t have as much concern on being their focus.
Coincidentally, their opinions frequently lined up with functions/features that they did or didn’t offer.
Others offered pretty flimsy transition support – or none at all. In their words “it’s a pretty intuitive system” or “your technical team will have no problem with this”.
Needless to say, we went with the vendors that we felt comfortable they truly understood our problem and that they wouldn’t abandon us after implementation. Not to say that other organizations don’t seek these things when reviewing solution options. But it’s really easy to get wrapped up in the bells and whistles of a system – and lose sight of how well it will solve problems – and how well it will fit into an operation long-term.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll go into the details of how we approach each of these two service areas of our solutions. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experience in procuring solutions – or your approach in delivering them.