Every organization has unique business and technical needs. This often makes finding prepackaged products and services out of a box to meet those needs challenging — like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Typically, organizations resort to selecting a solution at the right price that meets the majority of its requirements. Unfortunately, these solutions seldom meet all of an organization's needs.
Organizations are often found asking themselves: "How do we find a product or service that meets all of our needs without enduring the burden of building our own?" The answer: leveraging a product or service that has optional professional services.
Why Pre-Packaged Solutions Aren't Ideal
Although many product and service vendors want to provide solutions that meet all requirements for every organization, it is essentially impossible because no reasonable ROI exists in such a business model. The cost to deliver complete flexibility to work in every single environment is simply too high, and thus the product or service would out-price its value in the marketplace. As a result, vendors listen to their buyers but often times end up creating offerings that appeal to the masses.
This is a classic example of the Pareto principle — also known as the 80/20 rule. To achieve the remaining buyer requirements, a vendor would need to dedicate a large majority of their time and money to customize its solutions. However, the impact to its bottom line would be minimal. According to Pareto, vendors would spend 80% more time to meet the remaining 20% of requirements. This doesn't mean 80% achievement should be considered "good enough." Good vendors who truly listen to their customers have alternatives for the remaining 20%.
Tackling the Leftover 20%
Vendors can help organizations address their remaining needs by building products and services with flexible frameworks for customization. Flexible reporting, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and other structured inputs and outputs to the product or service platform allow an organization to tweak that service to meet its unique needs. The trick here is to figure out how to use these tools — but this takes additional effort, time and money.
Professional Service Organizations (PSOs) can help ease this burden by building on the premise of a product or service for a customized end result. Typically, vendors that provide flexible solutions have a PSO on hand to help with customization.
There is no doubt that customization is an additional incurred cost, but as we've discussed throughout our Professional Services blog series, a PSO can do this more quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. PSOs are equipped with the resources and expertise to get the job done right — and quickly. A good PSO has all the resources necessary to meet any organization's timeline.
Remember, the PSO's reputation is at stake in this situation. A PSO not only has a reputation for its ability to provide customization, present a professional product and develop a solid relationship with its customers and partners, but it also carries the reputation of the larger vendor on its shoulders. If a PSO cannot make its customer happy, it affects the customer satisfaction levels for the vendor — not just the PSO. For this reason, engaging a PSO — specifically one associated with a products and services company — guarantees everyone involved has the ultimate goal of pleasing the customer.
The Bottom Line
Being in a position where you are able to ingest products/services into your organization directly off the shelf is a good feeling. Having to "settle" is not. When you are evaluating products and services and are looking for that perfect fit, don't limit your search to the products and services only. If you find a vendor/partner that you like but the product doesn't quite meet all your needs, ask how the vendor handles customizations. If they say they don't, consider other options. If they give you options but little to no assistance, understand you may have some significant hidden costs in leveraging the new technology.
If the vendor has a professional services organization, there's a very good chance that they have been down this road with other customers before and understand the need to help organizations meet all their needs. Your dream solution may be just a few professional services hours away, letting the experts tailor your solution to meet all of your needs.
By James Willett, VP of Professional Services and Sales Engineering at Neustar
NeuStar provides market-leading and innovative services that enable trusted communication across networks, applications, and enterprises around the world. (Learn More)
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