Electronic Software Delivery – Best Practices Part 1 – Define Success Before You Start
In the past few weeks I’ve been in quite a few meetings with software companies talking about electronic software delivery. And here is the deal: We can predict the degree of difficulty in forming a mutually beneficial operating partnership with you by asking one question, “A year from now, what successes will be be celebrating”?
Sidebar commentary: Inquiries we are receiving about ESD are up in 2010, in part thanks to our marketing efforts (thanks Darci, Charissa, and Chris!) but also because more companies, spurned on by the 360 business reviews of 2009, are looking for every advantage, and they are now getting to Delivery.
I never get tired of asking that question, or the responses it provokes. After more than 15 years in the business of helping high-tech companies get their products into the hands of their customers, going all the way back to the floppy disk days, the answer to this question (or the lack thereof) is the most important and most telling.
Your definition of success must be in place before you start your electronic software delivery project.
As much as I dislike the one-size-fits-all implications of “best practices” language, this one-time, I’ll concede. Too often we hear the “our customers are asking for it” response. While the customer demand is undoubtedly true, I can almost guarantee that your CFO won’t fund your initiative based on that justification.
Here are some real, quantifiable, definitions of success that have been used by some of our customers, in no particular order:
Reduce per unit costs versus physical shipping.
Accelerate revenue recognition.
Decrease call frequency and duration to customer and technical support.
Capture metrics on adoption rates for use by sales, marketing, engineering, etc.
Eliminate costly, repetitive, manual processes.
Provide quantifiable sales/import/export tax advantages.
Comply with (enter jurisdiction of choice) export regulations.
Re-allocate talented individuals to core business tasks.
There are more. Not all are necessary. Your objectives are for you to define. But, define them you must. The single most important “best practice” in ESD is to set your goals, up-front, and with conviction. Because, as many of you might already know, your ESD project will involve many more stakeholders and participant than might readily be apparent. You’ll need these goals to keep everyone on the same page, and to make sure you have something to celebrate.