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November, 2007

Welcome back! If you're one of our many new subscribers, stay tuned for the best in useful ERP related best practices and commentary. In the October issue of Innovative Thinking, we discussed FOCUS, a critical element for project as well as personal success. This month we continue with our look at obstacles to project success, with a discussion on how to make winning presentations.

Win with winning presentations! By Paul Sita, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or psita@innovativeitc.com.

Win with winning presentations! ERP projects are big projects. Regardless of the size of the company, they are big undertakings for those organizations.

And a big part of the success of any big undertaking is “selling” the project to a variety of constituencies. Frequently consultants and other project leaders make the mistake of thinking that logic, planning and great ideas ultimately win out. These are important. A project has to be well thought out. But just as important is your ability to CREATE AND DELIVER a winning presentation.

How do you do this? We've broken success down into 6 critical rules.

1. Know your audience. I could write an entire book on this one. (Now there's an idea!) Nothing is more important in sales than understanding your audience. What are their concerns? What’s in it for them? What will keep their attention and compel them to action? Who are they as people and what are their interests? The list goes on and on. If you want to win you need to spend a significant amount of time putting yourself in their seat with their mind set.

That's the first and most important rule - but the rest can't be ignored.

2. Anticipate their questions and consider their prior knowledge. Knowing your material is one thing. But anticipating what questions and objections may come up is quite another. Just as you may rehearse the actual material, rehearse how you will handle the most common objections. If you pay attention to #1, then you’ll know the questions that will be raised.

3. Don't keep them guessing. (make them comfortable) Lay out the agenda, and the time to be spent on each part of the agenda, if the meeting is a long one. Schedule breaks so that you control the flow, not the audience. Speakers often think that letting the audience know too much may allow them to “tune out”. There’s nothing wrong with that. The audience ultimately decides how important the content is. Give them what they want.

4. Pay attention to format. Content is important. But presentation is equally important. Adding color, animation, changing from bullets to diagrams – are all critical aspects of keeping their attention and guiding your audience to focus on what you want them to focus on.

5. Consider the venue. Adjust your presentation for the venue. If it’s crowded, don’t move around too much. If it’s formal, react to that as well. It’s all part of making the audience comfortable, and anything that makes them more comfortable allows your message to be received better.

6. Practice. Sounds silly right? But this is another rule that is frequently broken. Knowing your material and being ready to deliver it are two different things. Where to break, how to pace, where to inject an anecdote – these are all critical. This only happens with practice. The goal of practice is to make the actual delivery so effortless that the audience doesn’t realize that your presentation has been carefully rehearsed!

Try these simple suggestions, and you’ll see your success rate soar!

Tip of the Month

All Good Things Must Come to an End.
By John Pellegrino, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or jpellegrino@innovativeitc.com.

Over the last few months I have run a series of tips about the project status meeting. Topics included setting up a regular schedule to hold them, developing a status report, selecting team members that should attend, and facilitating the meetings. This month I will conclude the series with a discussion of, what else, when to stop having the meetings. The obvious answer to this is when the project ends, but the end of the project is not always obvious. There are many examples of this, but let's focus on three of them.

It ain't over til it's over (thanks Yogi) Many times it appears as if the project is over because it reached its goal, but there are natural follow up activities that are really part of the project. For example, if the project goal was to implement a new accounting software package it may be considered complete once you are using that software. However, it is common practice to review the results of the first month’s (and/or the first quarter’s) closing. You may not have a weekly meeting at this point, but you should have a meeting before the close for preparation and one after for results review.

Let the dust settle on the project. Many times there are issues or questions that do not reveal themselves until the project has reached its goal. If you have done your job during the project there should be only a few of these “surprises”. However, it is important to meet as a team to decide if, and when, you are going to address them. Depending on the answers you may have to meet regularly for a while after the apparent end of the project.

"One more time". When you believe that everything is truly complete for the project you should have one more meeting. There may have been issues during the project that you knowingly postponed resolution or chose to do in a different way at that time. All of these should be discussed again and the final decision on them should be documented in the final project report. Most importantly, you should formally thank the members and recognize the great work they did.

Putting it all together. I hope you have had the opportunity to follow this series over the last few months and, most importantly, I hope they have been helpful to you. If you have been busy with work, such as facilitating project status meetings, you can go to our web site, and click on the RESOURCES section to review all the tips as part of our newsletters.

What's new?

The Question of the month!! Every month we field a question from one of our fearless readers! Don't be shy. Submit your hardest question and see how we do.

Word Scramble time.
“The initial period of time after an ERP implementation, when small problems are addressed". (2 words)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Answer to last month's word scramble.

“ A process of evaluating your own set of skills and capabilities". (2 words) (SELF ASSESSMENT)

Question of the month. This month's question comes from George R. in White Plains.

We recently had our first conference room pilot and the users were really not prepared. What can I do? George, this is not that uncommon. Frequently if you haven't had strong top management support, the user teams don't take testing seriously enough. They aren't diligent about laying out their scenarios and test cases, and the result is what you have seen. Now's the time to point out to management the risks involved unless the dynamics change from the top. Those risks are TIME, MONEY, and RISK TO THE BUSINESS. This should get their attention.

A Look Ahead To Next Month

In December we'll look at What's in store for 2008?

We want your feedback. Contact us

Innovative IT Consulting, LLC
(631) 549-1685