A few weeks ago, all of us saw our LinkedIn feeds and inboxes fill up with the major lawsuit Hertz filed against Accenture.
And honestly, I — and presumably the collective folks on the “agency” side — cringed a bit because we’ve been there.
Initial promises were made, people change, new information comes to light, and a contract is the last thing anyone is thinking about when there is a list of 50+ priority QA Bugs with an imminent launch and marketing campaign staring you down.
The scale of this situation, however, is significant. And it underscores several points that all of us — client and service provider — need to realize as we work with one another.
You can’t figure everything out in a contract.
A statement of work for any technology project is full of optimism from the sales team (um…me), past traumas from delivery, and a bunch of assumptions everyone has come up with about time, tasks, and people.
Yes, you can look back and say historically you know how long integrations, features, strategy deliverables and design may take to produce. But every client and every engagement is unique, making a contract impossible to be perfect. (My favorite example is the list of items that are “out of scope” — which really is confusing since isn’t everything not listed in scope just out of scope?)
At the end of the day, we’re all just hiring experts that we trust — based on referrals and past work — to help us get to an end goal. So let’s start focusing on that goal, and the major things we need to do on the way there, rather then several paragraphs of who is creating what wireframes.
(And by the way, that goal should be related to your customer…but that is a different rant.)
Technology companies are not consulting companies.
Some of my favorite (and smartest) people in the world have come from big consulting firms, they are technologists through and through. But we’re seeing the industry shift significantly with acquisitions of product design firms and technology integrators. And with that we’ve all just assumed that an “end to end” solution for clients has been created overnight.
But, there is a big difference between the agility / product mentality that comes from organizations that started off as designers and engineers, and the ones that started off as consultants.
And while I’ve probably just barred myself from ever working with/at a consulting firm, hear me out: they both can and should exist. But in my experience the model of a long, analyst-driven strategy is at the opposite end of the spectrum then the prototype-test-iterate methodology that us development-folk are used to.
We call all agree that the perfect mix is somewhere in between. A middle ground where you’re not jumping into the waters blind, but also not spending several quarters doing research. But in the meantime, we all must remember that these are different people, mindsets, and approaches that many times are opposing forces.
We need to put our money where our mouth is.
This, to me, is where the real change needs to happen. Everyone has to start being honest that technology and service models are endlessly changing. No one company can do everything. And a level deeper, brands must shy away from the knee jerk reaction to “whitespace” in an industry report, but rather emphasize creating things that are meaningful to customers because that is just as — if not more — important then a marketing campaign.
Providers need to put the bets on themselves. At YML, we call it putting our money where our mouth is’. Specifically, we work towards a joint goal — an actual specific and measurable KPI — and if we don’t hit it, we don’t get that final invoice.
One could call it risky, but if we are saying we’re going to do something, shouldn’t we actually mean it? You wouldn’t give your contractor for your house the entire check at mid-demo, would you? Why should the core to your business be any different?
Like anything, the struggle that Hertz and Accenture have gone through show that there is yet another evolution coming to our industry and this one being a focus on the balance of strategy, innovation and technology.
In the meantime, our point of view remains unchanged: joint goals are core to a successful partnership and premium work.