Keep it simple

Have you ever been asked to do something for a client where you think to yourself, “you can’t do that easily” but then your brain tells you, “I like a challenge” (or something similar)? You know, those questions that push beyond what you would normally build and may push things a little outside the norm compared to your usual client requests?

Recently I found myself in one of those situations. I was able to find a solution to the first request with a bit of lateral thinking and it felt good. The client was happy. A few days later they produced a list of new requirements, not scoped in the orginal work that pushed the envelope a more and more. Some of the requirements we straightforward, but a few were not. Is there something in the Office 365 PnP that will help with this? No. Has someone found a clever work around and blogged about it? No. Is the client willing to adjust there requirements? No.

I’m an experienced consultant and I would like to think my technical skills and knowledge of SharePoint are better than the average, but I started to feel a bit of anxiety creeping in. What if I can’t find a solutions? What if I do find a solution, but it breaks later? Is this a good idea? How do I talk to the client about it? I felt stuck, with no easy way forward.

I met with the client and decided to talk to them about their requests and why they were difficult to satisfy. The conversation started with the business requirement, moved to the technical challenges it posed. What do other people do they asked? We don’t want to do something wildy different if it is difficult to implement and support. I showed them an example and we agreed to get feedback from the end users of the solution. The result was a win-win, the end users had a much simplier solution than was described in the business requirements. We had solved the most time consuming part of their problem easily out of the box, it was the last 10% of the problem that was complex. They were very happy!

Reminding ourselves that sometimes our expectations of what a person is asking for may be different to theirs can help solve the problem. In this case the client really did want to Keep It Simple. If I had just said, “this is what you get out of the box” earlier, I would have saved myself a sleepless night and still had a happy client.

At the next project meeting, the client asked if I could help them come up with some rules for the do’s and don’ts of building their environment. “Lets stick with out of the box as much as possible”, I said, and they agreed. This is the advice I normally give, but the pressure of a long list of requests had helped me lose sight of my own advice.

I got there in the end.

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