From the early days until now, OCM has been perceived as a nebulous process. However, the discipline has grown exponentially from being known as the “soft stuff” to a tactical mechanism to achieve project implementation success and business results. Yet today, there are still challenges with OCM being widely accepted and embraced as a necessary practice for a vast amount of IT projects. Oddly enough, the challenges I have personally experienced have not been related to OCM execution. I have had great success with clients seeing the value of OCM engagement throughout a project’s life cycle. They often wonder how they have gone for so long without an effective way for dealing with the human side of technology implementations.
So, in my opinion, the biggest challenge OCM practitioners face today is executives not putting OCM in the budget process when projects are being considered. What I have seen recently is key decision makers who purchase the bare minimum of OCM services with a hope and a wish that their internal resources will be capable of executing OCM plans when the consultant is gone.
There are two aspects of this challenge I would like to focus on. One is getting these key decision makers to really invest in what has been proven to make IT projects more successful. Second is getting sales teams to truly articulate the value of OCM during the pre-sales process. OCM cannot be positioned as a nice-to-have or an add-on. I liken the experience to purchasing a car. You go to the dealership, find the car of your dreams, begin negotiations with the salesman, and reach an agreement on the deal. Then, you get to the finance department, and we all know what happens back there: add-on after add-on until the cost you thought you agreed to is now way beyond what you intended to spend. So now you decide to forgo those add-ons, or you purchase the bare minimum to feel like you are still getting a good deal. What I am saying is that OCM can’t and shouldn’t be a back-office add-on that isn’t a part of the original deal. It needs to be positioned as an essential part of the deal that makes the car perform the way it is designed to, and without it you won’t get the full extent of what you paid for.
Therefore, two critical mindset shifts need to occur to address this challenge. First, sales teams must position OCM as a necessary component of the project. It must be positioned as the high-tech fuel that makes the car reach optimal performance. Just as important, key decision makers must see the value of OCM and not leave it off the table just to save a few dollars. If you buy a Ferrari, you expect it to perform like a Ferrari. You wouldn’t skimp and put regular unleaded gas in it because you realized just how much the car cost and want to save a buck or two. You want to get the most out of your purchase, and you want that car to perform as designed and expected. So you use the highest-octane fuel you can get at the pump to meet those goals and expectations. That high-octane fuel is OCM. The value is there. It has been proven time and time again through countless studies and surveys. Sellers just need to sell it, and buyers need to buy it. During the deal negotiation, both parties need to agree that it is essential to the IT solution performing at its best, as if it were a high-end sports car ready to hit the road.