I was talking with a client yesterday in regards to some of the consultants they have used for Documentum work over the years. Like most large companies, they have used consultants from a variety of companies. For this post, I thought I would detail some of the different options as well as provide some of our insights after being a Documentum partner for 14 years.
Understanding the types of Documentum Partners
There are a couple of types of Documentum partners including:
- Documentum Partner – This is firm separate from ECM that provides consulting or software for Documentum. Partners include both consulting and software vendors (or combinations). TSG has been a Partner for 14 years and offers Open Source software as part of the “Designed for EMC” certification program.
- EMC/Documentum Consulting – This is consulting services from EMC/Documentum themselves with EMC employees. The practice started for Documentum around 2000. Before 2000, Documentum completely relied on partners, similar to Microsoft.
- Documentum SST Partner – Documentum has relationships with some Documentum Partners that allow these partners to subcontract to EMC/Documentum consulting. As a subcontractor, EMC/Documentum takes care of the billing and takes a portion of the subcontractors fees. These resources can be mixed and matched with EMC employees on a EMC/Documentum engagement.
Like most TSG clients, my client had worked with both EMC/Documentum consulting (employees of EMC), subcontractors via the SST program and a consulting firm (TSG) that is not in the SST program.
Understanding the Sale
Many times EMC/Documentum consulting engagements are sold as part of the software sale or software updates. Often times the EMC/Documentum software sales rep, particularly for a new customer, would recommend assistance with the installation and configuration of the software and include in the software purchase. Customers should understand that buying consulting from a software sales representative is different than buying directly from a consulting Partner. Keep in mind that the sales rep:
- is commissioned on the EMC/Documentum software and consulting sale and would not be commissioned on a separate sale to a Documentum Partner outside the SST program
- may have “oversold” the software as meeting the user’s requirements “out of the box” and not given a realistic estimate to how much assistance other clients typically need
- isn’t going to be responsible for standing behind the estimate and can blame the consulting resource for not being good enough
- doesn’t typically have experience doing or even supervising the doing activity to set realistic expectations
The above being said, at TSG we have worked with some great Documentum sales reps that “get it”. By getting it, I mean they never give client estimates and include us or the EMC/Documentum consultant that is going to be responsible for the deliverables early on in the sales process to set customer expectations and realistic timelines and deliverables. As luck would have it, today one of our ex-TSGers who had a stint at EMC/Documetum professional services (he works at Yahoo now) stopped in the office and I wanted to include his thoughts in this post.
“At EMC, I was in professional services for two years. We often had discussions on how to best improve our delivery. We realized the key was to make sure the sales rep had access to a responsible subject matter expert, specifically with software projects, early on in the sales process.”
Overall, a best practice for clients is to make sure the resources (internal or external) that are going to be responsible for the work are actively involved in the upfront timeline/deliverable/cost discussions and setting of client expectations.
Better Consulting Decisions
To conclude this post, I thought I would include some common mistakes to avoid when looking at consultants:
- The “not so Objective” consultant – the best Documentum consultants understand the strengths as well as limitations of the Documentum products. Be very wary of consultants under the EMC umbrella that only recommend EMC products for everything. Often times there are better options that reduce risk, cost and timeline.
- The “Expert” – clients can get caught in a “we want this one great consultant” or even internal employee. Typical consultants can have detailed knowledge of different areas but it is better to have access to a team that can collaborate and bring in lots of experience rather than just one person who could get sick, change jobs or just not have seen other options. Also, finding the one expert can be very difficult and require a ton of interviewing for what is a short-term resource. I tell clients all the time it is better to have two part-timers than one full-time resource.
- The “Expert” Part Two – clients need to understand that the Documentum software product set is pretty large. Understanding Webtop customizations is different that BPM or even DCM. Be very specific in what you are trying to do and understanding the background of the people/firm that will be assisting you.
- The “Full time Out of Towner” – Traveling can be tough on any consultant and the client. Expecting a consultant to come in and work the week and weekends indefinitely isn’t realistic as the work will eventually scale down and clients would like access to part-time support. We have many clients who we support on a part-time basis from our office via VPN and short-trips onsite. Look for a firm/consultant that can be full-time sometimes and part-time others to keep consistency and control expensive traveling costs.
- The “one size fits all” preferred vendor – often times purchasing will push for leverage of a generic, typically off-shore, firm for all consulting. Often times these resources do not have the breadth of experience, or team, to meet timeframe and support requirements associated with Documentum. Also, the amount of development for Documentum jobs is typically only one, small component of the overall project (requirements, design, testing, training…) making it difficult and impractical to leverage off-shore development only resources.
- “Better” Rate – Clients often get caught in a comparison of rates to simplify the decision process. Smart clients look beyond rate and look for results. The consultant that charges a low rate but needs to be there 40 hours a week will, when the project is done, go to another client for 40 hours a week and not be available for support. The more expensive consultant that charges more but, due to experience, software and their support team, can be there half the time is better from a risk, timeline, budget and ongoing support perspective given that a part-time resource can be available part-time in the future.