How many of us have, and use, Best Practice collateral, libraries or even standalone roles or departments? Some of the most commonly used Best Practice items are templates and checklists. These are great when you’re gathering or using standard information, but the moment you get into customer/client specifics, it’s a dangerous track to take and can actually lead to more work.
The handover from bid to delivery is a great example of this. While there may be a list of ‘usual’ steps to schedule or action, chances are not every client will need or do things in the same way. A previous firm called it the ‘100 day plan’, and key components included introduce the team, issue team chart, agree communication frequency/method, set up reporting, set up secure extranet etc.
At this level, a template/checklist works well. It can provide an aide memoire to the handover process, and can be shared across the organisation to ensure a new (or returning/refreshed) client is set up as per your protocols and learning.
However, what if we take it down a level. Would you set up a meeting agenda, or reporting template for example? This is where it becomes more of a ‘grey area’.
Take reporting. Most, if not every, client will require slightly different reporting based on their sector, product/service, organisation structure or even just personal preference. They may detail this as a standalone requirement during the bid process, or you may not know until you have that first meeting. It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all template in advance that would cater for every client.
Of course, you could create a basic report template to include in the bid, or – to really wow them – a more detailed version you’ve delivered for another client. However, are you making a rod for your own back? What if the basic template is “fine, but we just need a few tweaks”, and those few tweaks take your IT/MI/Finance teams as long to process as starting from a blank page? What if the client was expecting, and perfectly happy with, a basic report – until they saw the all-singing all-dancing version? And what if you’d worked with the previous client to develop that report, so there is shared IP?
What is more important is that your organisation takes the learning from the bid process into those first telephone calls and kick-off workshops. You can show the client you’ve really listened and understood them, and want to work with them to shape your relationship. Use a checklist as a springboard for the basics, by all means; but listening, learning and collaborating should be the best practice, rather than Best Practice templates for templates sake.