Post by Tom Dredge, Senior PV Analyst.
As a dad to an intelligent and quizzical 8 year old, I often hear a phrase that starts with “Why…?”
Sometimes it re-enforces a well-rounded and robust point of view. Other times it takes what I have said and smashes it to pieces before the dot has even been placed under the question mark.
However, if you let it, it will always lead to a better understanding of the topic under discussion.
Unfortunately, in safety database system implementation projects, I have not heard it very often at all. And almost never from the vendor. And I don’t just mean the phrase, “Why?”, I also mean all the different ways that question can be asked.
But why shouldn’t the vendor be posing these types of questions to the customer when it comes to an area they are experts in?
Well, it’s really more to do with the sales process and less to do with the needs of the customer.
When a vendor engages with a customer it is often on very tentative grounds – yes, the customer has most likely identified an area of the business in which improvements can be made, but the initial engagement is always speculative – so a vendor will pull out all of the stops necessary to demonstrate the best version of the system and service so that they stand out from the other vendors.
Now, as I discussed in my previous article, the regulations and industry expectations already give a robust framework for developing the core functionality for a safety database system which results in a normalization of that functionality across products. So, in order to stand out, vendors often focus on the “Bells and Whistles” – even if these are ultimately not the best fit for an organization.
At the same time, the additional software, hosting and consultation revenue generated by these added extras can be very attractive, especially if the vendor is a very sales-driven organization.
Of course, let’s not be naïve. Sales and revenue must be significant factors in vendor-delivered projects and services, but they don’t have to be the defining factors.
And there are times of course when a customer already has a very clear deliverable in mind and the vendor is there purely in order to fill the resource or technical knowledge gap, and in that case asking “Why?” is not necessary or productive.
However, in situations where an organization is looking for a vendor to partner and collaborate closely together with in their journey – to not only perform the tasks, but also provide the expertise – then the vendor should look to both question and propose alternatives where products or functionality that may not be fit-for-purpose or expose the customer to financial or operational risks are evident.
Asking “Why?” is the start of a conversation to understand what you wish to achieve. Once that is established, we can then determine how that impacts additional factors such as functionality, cost, capacity and capabilities. Finally, when all of that is taken into consideration we can determine if it is worthwhile or achievable within the project now or in the future.
At pharmasol, we consider asking “Why?” a fundamental part of us not being just a vendor selling a product or service, but a partner across your safety database system lifecycle. It forms part of our bigger concept of Right-Sizing.