Since earlier this year, businesses have been grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their strategy, operations and finances. For stakeholders, the need to continue to drive business outcomes is essential, yet delivering critical initiatives has become increasingly difficult.  

  • How do they begin to prioritize the right initiatives when facing so many unknown factors?
  • In light of all the uncertainty, how can the business manage risk throughout the project lifecycle?
  • As businesses deal with the financial ripple effects of the pandemic, how do they manage costs and prevent project overrun?

“Advancing projects means…adopting an agile posture, continually assessing risks, and adjusting operations.”  ~Mckinsey & Company

Stream the conversation as we discuss how organizations like yours can continue to drive change to achieve business outcomes as they navigate the unknown.  Hear real world examples of how business leaders and project stakeholders continue to move forward while minimizing risk, leveraging learnings and adapting to changing circumstances.

Here’s some highlights from the conversation between Kelley Curtis, John Keogh, Adam Storch, and Lisa Cavanagh:

Prioritizing and Initiating Business Projects with Agility and Alignment

Lisa Cavanagh: With respect to John, what you had said, when they [the client] first had the initial shock, they had to hit those quick wins. They had to really understand how to keep that organization running. And now they’re saying, “Okay, the way we are operating is forever changed.” So they’re really looking, to your guys’ point, to say, “How do we make the most of that?”

… Given this amount of unknown that you stated and given the increased risk, how are you applying with organizations today that concept of agility?

Adam Storch: How do I mitigate that risk? How do I address the fact that the unknown could happen? And, of course, that’s a key thing to say, the unknown. If it’s unknown, Adam, how do you know it’s going to happen? It’s more a matter of understanding what happens if things don’t go right. You know? So I will tell you before we spend time on that, not as much. What’s changed? More time spent on those kinds of things. People are not as much saying that could never happen. I know it sounds kind of whatever, but that’s the reality. So we end up in more conversations, a good way, about risk mitigation.

So I would argue that the systems now, maybe for the wrong reasons because of the pandemic, are almost more future proof or future-ready. I don’t want to say they’re bulletproof, but they’re more future-ready because more time is spent on what might happen. The other thing I would like to say is also part of the thing with clients, and this is expected.

John Keogh: I agree with everything you said, absolutely experiencing it. In addition to that, I like to think that we mitigate risk always, and we’ve always done that. Some of the things that I see that are different is alignment and communication. There’s an increased emphasis on this. And how do we, as our teams are remote, as well as our customers’ teams are remote, how do we keep everyone pulling the rope in the same direction and aligned? So increased communication, increased alignment.

Adam Storch: I will tell you, there’s definitely a lot more hyper-awareness of the alignment thing. And when John talks about alignment, remember this is everything from the people that might be touching keyboards to executives who are signing checks, and it’s that alignment of expectations up and down.

Managing Costs and Project Overrun – Post-Pandemic

Lisa Cavanagh: There’s also the looming challenge on organizations’ minds right now, which is cash flow and revenue. How does this approach help them manage that? Is there a way that it’s helping them navigate?

John Keogh: Whether it’s defined phases or not, the number one reason I see where projects’ costs go overrun is really scope creep. Some customers like to build a roadmap – multiple phases right out of the gate. Some like to do it over time on the project. We track cost pretty well. We try to talk to the customers about when things change, even if it’s scope change, but not a financial change. We want to track that as an approved change.

So over time, we can say, “Okay, we originally started to do this. It evolved over time, based upon the customer’s priorities, to look like this.” And it typically happens. And as long as they understand it’s going to happen or typically happen, that’s fine. If it’s a surprise to them, then they get worried. And then they start talking about overrun and out of control projects. It’s a different thing, so there’s a way of managing the increased things in scope.

Adam Storch: What you’ll hear from us, and it sounds weird, maybe the sales guys don’t like it, but when a change order situation comes up, John and I, believe it or not, and you’ll understand when I get to the end of this, we’ll fight the change order in the sense that can we get you “live” without the change order, and then do the change order.

So it’s like, let’s get it “live” and then add the stuff. And that, we find also helps mitigate the risk. We then go “live,” let’s do it, and then do more work. And that’s a big deal because we all know the quicker it goes “live,” the quicker the client sees value, and everybody’s happier. Up and down the line, everybody’s happier, and that’s why they got to go that direction.

 

Full Transcript:

Kelley Curtis:

Good morning. Thank you so much for joining us today for our webinar, Initiating Business Projects and Driving Business Outcomes During Uncertainty. We are really glad you’re able to be here with us today. I have here with me today, John Keogh, Adam Storch, and Lisa Cavanagh. They’re all executives here at Micro Strategies. So Lisa, why don’t I go ahead and kick it over to you to start the conversation?

Lisa Cavanagh:

Thank you so much, Kelly. How you doing, Adam and John? How’s it going today?

Adam Storch:

We’re living the dream. You know that. Come on. Come on now.

Lisa Cavanagh:

I know. You’re always living the dream, Adam. I wanted to start the conversation this morning. Really, just the fact that organizations at this point, I think, are over that initial shock that hit everyone with respect to COVID and the pandemic, and now they’re really faced with understanding that shifts to their business and their organizations, and how do they respond to those shifts. And they’re having to do that more quickly than they ever had before. So how are you working with organizations, and what are you seeing in your experience in working with those organizations as to how they are prioritizing what it is that they’re looking at as a result of those shifts?

Adam Storch:

Well, I think the most interesting thing, if you think about it, is the unknown. When you do a project, right, and you do mitigation of risks, hey, let’s go off and do this project. Alright? And then we look at the risks that are going involved and like that, and the unknown was always a really small part of that thought process. You know? It’s not like something crazy like a global pandemic had happened. You know what I’m saying?

So what’s interesting now is when we talk to clients and they work through the prioritization, the unknown becomes very large. In other words, it’s more prevalent or maybe something else or this could happen. And what we find ourselves is really working with clients to make projects or phases of projects, smaller, more quick hits. You hear the phrase, quick hit more. You hear, let’s embark on this, and then we’ll go to the next level because that unknown is quite possible. You know?

You end up in conversations when the prioritization happens, something with either a shorter payback, or something where value can be realized quicker, all of a sudden becomes a higher priority project than when they may have a much larger payback, but over a longer period of time. You know what I’m saying? So people aren’t, if you will, as patient to say, “Okay, in three years, we’re going to be rocking.” You know what I’m saying? Now it’s more like I’d rather get the smaller payback in the shorter timeframe. And that’s a lot of the conversations on my side, at least when we talk to clients. You know?

Lisa Cavanagh:

John, did you have anything else to add on Adam’s wisdom?

Adam Storch:

Easy with the wisdom word. Come on now.

John Keogh:

I agree, the time to value is important. It always has been, but there’s an increased emphasis on this. I also think there’s … I see customers that were initially well-prepared and those that weren’t initially well-prepared. And it’s interesting how quickly those that weren’t well-prepared have ramped up. They ramped up, but they didn’t have all the structure in place. So a lot of times they threw in tools like Team, or Zoom, or Go To, whatever tool they used to focus on collaboration.

And now that we’re into this remote working environment for some period of time, they’re figuring out how to better use those tools, and that’s where they’re looking for some outside help. One other point is they’re also looking at what’s really core to their business. Right? So the things that were less and refocusing on the higher priority projects that are going to help them right now. And this goes to the time to value stuff. So those are two of the key things I’ve seen here.

Lisa Cavanagh:

You guys brought up some great points. With respect to John, what you had said, when they first had the initial shock, they had to hit those quick wins. They had to really understand how to keep that organization running. And now they’re saying, “Okay, the way we are operating is forever changed.” So they’re really looking, to your guys’ point, to say, “How do we make the most of that?” And prioritizing those pieces.

The concept of this unknown, as you mentioned, Adam, and the shorter time to market has kind of been … The unknown piece has not been as big as you stated, but the shorter time to market has been a concept that’s been out there for a little while that businesses have been trying to do in terms of agility and trying to do the more agile method. And I know your team in the BPCS side also very much focuses, and has been adopting for many years, those types of methodologies when delivering.

So I guess my question to you is, given this amount of unknown that you stated and given the increased risk, how are you applying with organizations today that concept of agility? Is it different? Is there a different approach you’re taking, or has anything changed?

Adam Storch:

I don’t know if I’d say it’s different per se. I would say there’s more focus on that anti-fragility situation. Right? Because when we talk about the idea that says, when we go through a project, right, you go through a process flow, and you look at the risks in that process. What could go wrong? Right? I mean, the happy path is lovely, but what could go wrong? And testing those, what could go wrongs, that’s where we spend, quite frankly, more time than we used to. Alright?

So there’s more time spent on that risk situation, on the what could go wrong because like I said, not to overdo it, we never thought we’d be all sitting here having this conversation. You know what I’m saying, in terms of where we are now? So I would say that if you look at a pie chart, and you say, “Okay.” Adam, when you guys do your workshops, and you go through your business processes, and you analyze things, you go through that in steps. And you get that, okay, here’s my happy path, and now we break into where the risks are, right, there is more time spent on those.

How do I mitigate that risk? How do I address the fact that the unknown could happen? And, of course, that’s a key thing to say, the unknown. If it’s unknown, Adam, how do you know it’s going to happen? It’s more a matter of understanding what happens if things don’t go right. You know? So I will tell you before we spend time on that, not as much. What’s changed? More time spent on those kinds of things. People are not as much saying that could never happen. I know it sounds kind of whatever, but that’s the reality. So we end up in more conversations, a good way, about risk mitigation.

So I would argue that the systems now, maybe for the wrong reasons because of the pandemic, are almost more future proof or future-ready. I don’t want to say they’re bulletproof, but they’re more future-ready because more time is spent on what might happen. The other thing I would like to say is also part of the thing with clients, and this is expected. And John, I’ve been doing this for longer than we both want to admit. There’s always that piece when you’re dealing with a client about the analysis. You hear the phrase analysis paralysis, right? I didn’t invent the phrase. Okay.

That’s another thing we find ourselves doing with clients more because there is more concern in their head. There is more concern about, “Am I getting this perfect? Is this going to be exactly right? Are we mitigating every single circumstance?” And part of our role is also to help people get through that. I almost call it, I’m dating myself, we’re the Frasier Crane of ECM. We’ve got to therapeutically get them through some of this because it’s understandable. There’s got to be success. There’s a lot more focus on ROI. There’s a lot more focus on being successful, but there’s that fear that I don’t know everything, meaning the users.

So it boils down to saying more time spent on the unknown, working with the clients to respect the fact you still don’t know everything, and that’s okay. Let’s know what we can know and do our best to understand what happens if something goes wrong, that risk mitigation if you will. And it’s a biggie. I mean, we all know people who have lost their jobs because of COVID. Some people are more concerned about successive projects. So it’s really a matter of putting your arms around, okay, what could happen, and giving them a comfort level about what’s going to be in place for that risk mitigation. Okay? I know, John, you and I have done a lot of these things.

John Keogh:

I agree with everything you said, absolutely experiencing it. In addition to that, I like to think that we mitigate risk always, and we’ve always done that. So some of the things that I see that are different is alignment and communication. There’s an increased emphasis on this. And how do we, as our teams are remote, as well as our customers’ teams are remote, how do we keep everyone pulling the rope in the same direction and aligned? So increased communication, increased alignment.

We had a project kickoff yesterday. We had internal prep before that, just like we normally do. We talked about the customer, about how do we stay aligned with them throughout the project life cycle, so I think those are key things that we need to continue to focus on. And then the one other thing is setting the expectations during the kickoff. What are the deliverables making sure that success is understood for everybody? I know we get that in the contract, but sometimes it’s the interpretation of the contract, and the communication, and the real understanding with the customer about what they’re trying to achieve.

And the last part I say on that, or part of it is, things won’t always go right. So how are you going to address things when they don’t go right? So one of the things we talk about, and Adam and I’ve been talking about this word a lot of years.

Adam Storch:

Thank you for not dating both of us.

John Keogh:

So how do you escalate issues, and how do you identify how you do that? And it’s not something where it’s just a matter of course where, if 95% of the issues resolved at the project level, that’s fine, and that’s kind of normal. But when you do have to escalate, you don’t want to have to figure out who you’re going to escalate to in advance. You want to have that all structured so, at the moment, you can move things forward in a quick fashion, mitigating the risk.

Adam Storch:

Yeah. It’s funny you should say that because I know we always, in the communication plans during the kickoff, 100% right. I will tell you, there’s definitely a lot more hyper-awareness of the alignment thing. And when John talks about alignment, remember this is everything from the people that might be touching keyboards to executives who are signing checks, and it’s that alignment of expectations up and down. There’s always that assumption that they know, and I’ve attended presentations like that, but there’s definitely, on our side and with a lot of the clients’ side, more focus on that alignment.

Being remote, there’s a lot less casual conversations. There’s a lot less walk through the hallway, “Oh, by the way …” You know what I’m saying? So there’s a lot more structure that needs to happen to ensure that communication and ensure that alignment, very important stuff.

Lisa Cavanagh:

And to that question, the conversations with respect to alignment are great, just making sure that we’re all on the same page as far as where we are. And what about when we talk about delivering value more quickly and having them see the results more quickly? Are there different approaches that you’re taking with customers or maybe the same approaches you’ve taken in the past, to show them as you’re going along, the value and how it’s progressing, and making sure it’s meeting expectations?

Adam Storch:

You get smiles from both of us because, not to use overused phrase, but we are, if you will, an agile shop in terms of iterative development. Right? And every two weeks, based on what’s going on, we’re going to show them what’s going on. Right? We’re going to show them, “Okay, we did this. We did this.” I will tell you, there’s always a focus in showing them something to give them that cover of what’s going on. I would say there’s a hyper-focus.

So, in other words, whether it’s a document deliverable, or a code, or whatever, there is a much more heavier focus on seeing what’s going on every two weeks. You know what I’m saying? And that can take the form, again, it may be development that’s going on. It may be a screen, it may be a diagram. It may be a storyboard, whatever, but there is that hyper-focus on that iterative piece. Because, again, forgive me for beating a dead horse, those casual conversations aren’t there.

So that two-week interval, that may be it. That may be the only time that manager, that executive, that whatever, gets to see, “Well, Adam said there was going to be a diagram,” or “Adam said this.” You know what I’m saying? There is no casual. You know what I’m saying? So there is, because of the remote and a lack of the water cooler conversations, you know what I’m saying, there is a more hyper-focus on every couple of weeks, this is what’s going on. I mean, it’s definitely a lot bigger deal.

And for me, it’s a big deal, and for John, because we’re always dealing with both the users and the tech side. We’re both dealing with both sides of the equation. And making sure there’s that alignment on that regard is a big deal, and you just don’t have those casuals. You don’t have those. You go off to use the facilities if you will, and you happen to pass by somebody and have that quick conversation. You know what I’m saying? Now it’s only the structured piece, so you really got to think about ensuring the communication because that every week or every two weeks may be it. And that’s why it’s got to be more serious about that. John, I’m sorry. You know me, John. I won’t take the whole half hour.

John Keogh:

Progress previews, regardless of what the deliverables are on a more frequent basis, are only going to lead to more goodness. That’s it. And the customer is not going to get something at the end that they’re surprised by. Right? And that would be the worst thing possible. So that’s what we’ve done historically is just, to Adam’s point, there’s a increased emphasis on it, and both internally and with our customers.

Adam Storch:

And it could be, like I said, John, let’s be realistic. Let’s all be big boys and girls. I’d like to do that 100% of the time. It’s flawless every two weeks, but every now and then if there’s a mis-commune or whatever, at least corrective action happens much quicker. You know what I’m saying? So it’s like something’s going to happen, maybe a miss on this, or somebody didn’t understand something because it went from a piece of paper diagram to a screen, and that’s an evolution. So that continuous every two-week thing is a big deal. It avoids the thing going left, that kind of thing.

John Keogh:

The one thing we have to-

Lisa Cavanagh:

You had mentioned … Oh, go ahead, John. Go ahead.

John Keogh:

Just one thing we have to continue to help our customers with is, they’re adapting as well. Right? And there are various stages in their adaptation, and we have to meet them where they are and help them get to where they can be the most productive. Some of them are flawless, and some of them need more help than others. So how we manage that risk is an important thing for the success of the project. It’s not just MicroStrategy’s doing what we need to do. It’s how we work with our customer to achieve their objective.

Adam Storch:

Yeah, because we’re teaching them as well. We kicked off a project in, I guess, the middle of this whole thing, a startup farm. A great bunch of people, right? And they’re used to being on their own, on their own, and we architect the process like that. And all of a sudden, they’re not only dealing with the fact that, in a Zoom meeting, if you will, but now they’re also dealing with the fact that they’re not in front of us. So they got the technology thing going on, just the cultural thing has to change. And, oh, by the way, conveying the message.

So we become the educators as well as doing what it is we were hired to do. Educators and dealing with that technological situation, the cultural shift. Now I think some people are a little better, but let’s keep in mind, some people during COVID didn’t do any projects. So projects they have starting off now, kick-off as John mentioned, they haven’t done it so it.

So you’re in conversations with these people that used to sit in a conference room having this conversation, and now we’re doing this, and we’re doing whiteboards on our surface if you will. You know what I’m saying? Doing the diagrams of stuff, so it’s not just doing what we do. It’s helping them along. And you can’t blame them for being a little more stressed because it’s a change for them. People don’t do these projects for the heck of it. Helping them get through that process is a big deal. You know? So it adds a layer of, let’s just say excitement, to the project.

Kelley Curtis:

Well, so to that point, I would imagine that those bi-weekly touch points and being able to see the progressions being made helps with some of that analysis paralysis that you mentioned before because they’re able to validate what the thought process is, and then be able to also course correct in the event that they missed something.

Adam Storch:

Yeah, and course-correct doesn’t mean things went wrong. Course correct may mean, “Hey, two weeks ago when we did our conversation, I thought …” meaning the client thought this. Right? So Adam creates, or John, or Eric, or Jason, somebody creates a diagram of how it’s going to work. They look at the dagger, like, “Is that what I said?” And that could be of course correction. It doesn’t mean the world’s coming to an end. We’re not going to die a fiery death, but there’s a course correction. you know what I’m saying?

And that’s the thing that needs to be constant. That communication needs to be constant. And again, it’s that structured approach that needs to happen to ensure that conversation. A course correction could be as simple as, again, a mis-commute and a redirect, meaning redirect them back to that, or redirect us into the right situation.

Lisa Cavanagh:

Right. And it also could have been something potentially that they didn’t think about, to your point, because it maybe didn’t happen. And it gives them the opportunity to inject into the process, what may have come up versus having to get it all right coming out of the gate.

Adam Storch:

So the thing that John and I always know, and we tell users this in the beginning, and it’s very relevant. People listening got to know this, it’s all good. If you haven’t done a particular problem, we’re talking about VPCS right now. We’re talking about the document, it’s anything. It’s anything. When you embark on a new project where maybe you’re not a genius with the technology, as you give requirements, as you go through the process, you have a certain level of intelligence on what that project is going to do and how it’s going to work.

As the project goes along, you, the user, become smarter. You learn more. You hear the facilitator. So all of a sudden you’re thinking slightly differently than you did before the project started, and that’s expected, and that’s okay. And that’s what we try to tell them. So we may go four weeks into a project, and all of a sudden they think they had an epiphany like, “Oh my God, why didn’t I buy that a month ago?” Because you know more now. You know more than you did a month ago, and good Lord, that’s okay. That’s alright. You know? But that’s going to happen. They’re going to learn as you go through the project, and they’re going to come back and say something.

The key is say something. It’s okay. Not to sound like, see something, say something, but that’s the reality. Be comfortable that you’ve just learned because of the process, and now you want to change something. That’s okay, and that’s also the problem. Because we’re in structured conversations, sometimes it’s tougher. In the water cooler conversations, it was easier for somebody to say, “Adam, I don’t know what you said in that last meeting. Can you tell me what you said?” You see what I mean?

I mean, in order to do that in a room full of people, it’s a little dicier because there’s a worry about, I don’t want to look stupid. So that’s the other thing, it’s trying to get them comfortable. This is our structured conversation. It’s okay. You just learned. Tell us what you’re thinking. You know what I’m saying? And that, again, back to that environmental piece, in terms of, we’re not all together. We’re in this remote situation, and that’s a big one. They’re learning as it goes on. I saw John smiling because I know he can think of three examples in three of his projects.

Kelley Curtis:

I was going to say, John, you were smiling a lot.

Can you share what was going through your mind as Adam was sharing?

John Keogh:

A few, just a few. The projects that are most successful is when the customer is actually, and Adam’s point’s spot-on, when they actually realize that they’re learning along that, and that our intention is to help them on a path of self-sufficiency over time. And that where they start that journey, it’s okay, wherever they are. And that’s why, if we’ve done this project or this type of project, dozens, multiple dozens of times, we should know more with them. And Adam and the team, Jason, do a great job in helping the customer understand what they think they asked for versus what they really need. Right? And that’s continuous, right?

Adam Storch:

Yeah. What’s that phrase? I don’t know the whole thing, but it was towards the Night Before Christmas thing, a take on IT. But the ending phrase is just what I asked for, but not what I want. You know? And that’s not my phrase. I take no credit for it, but that’s pretty much it. And that’s part of the education to get them through that. You know?

John Keogh:

We said, “We don’t want a successful SOW project. We want a successful project regardless of what the SOW says.” Right? So we’ll make adjustments as needed along the way because that’s what really counts. Right? Yeah. Yep.

Lisa Cavanagh:

So we’ve talked a lot about risk and how we manage the conversations with respect to the delivery associated to risk. But then there’s also the looming challenge on organizations’ minds right now, which is cash flow and revenue. How does this approach help them manage that? Is there a way that it’s helping them navigate? They have to keep track of their cash flow, make sure that they’re navigating as best as possible. How does this process really help contribute and support that?

Adam Storch:

Well, I would say, as we talked about much earlier in the chunking, the smaller pieces, you know what I’m saying? The guys that do projects, they may have the budget X, the big budget, or whatever size adjective you want to use. They’ve got budget X, but in reality, they’re chopping that up because they’ve got to be cautious on that value. So that’s why, from our perspective, as you guys know on the call, and those of you who may have worked with us, we’re also not looking for that big SOW, as John said, to get the thing rolling.

We’re in this. We’ve got clients we’ve had for 15, 20 years. Okay? No, it’s not one project, but we’ve had it over time, and that’s relevant because we’ll do a little, we’ll go away. We’ll do a little, we’ll do a little, or we just take that big project and chunk it up. And as they see the value, we do the next, we do the next. Okay? So it’s really a matter from a cash flow perspective, just, they want to know where their money’s being spent, and they want to be comfortable where it’s at.

They don’t want to sign up for something, sweat for a year. It’s like, “How do we chunk this thing up?” You know? And that’s where we work with them. So I would say there’s been a lot more, if you will, smaller SOWs, not to be confused with smaller projects. Does that make sense? So there’s a lot, and we’re okay with doing SOWs, meaning multiples. But I don’t know if the projects have really gotten smaller more than the SOWs have gotten smaller. So we’re successful. They’re successful. They are okay with opening a little more with the purse strings. Okay, you did that. Awesome. Next.

I mean, if I look at this, we probably, I’m just thinking through my head, the last four or five clients, the last projects, yeah, overcoated, but a lot more, call them additional SOWs, or I’d say change orders, but it’s really adding more features. It’s like, “Let’s do this. We’re good? Now let’s do this.” And that’s okay. It’s also less stress on everybody, so the cash flow is chunking it up, so you’re seeing more value. It’s really what you see is what you get, but what you’re seeing in there is what you’re going to get, and then you move to the next.

And from a Micro [Strategies] perspective, we’ve been doing this for a long time. So we’re not looking to lt’s get the big SOW. No, we’re going to be around for a while so let’s do the pieces, build the building blocks, and get it going. I think it’s because I played with Lego as a kid. I’m just a little block. I don’t know. But anyway, it’s definitely more the building block approach, and that’s where they do it. So there’s not that big looming number, little numbers. So I don’t know, John-

Lisa Cavanagh:

Yeah, I was going to say from project delivery perspective, I mean, clearly, you’re very close to those costs, I imagine that. What have you seen in helping customers through that?

John Keogh:

Whether it’s defined phases or not, the number one reason I see where projects’ costs go overrun is really scope creep. Right? If a customer understands there’s going to be multiple phases, it’s easier. If we help customers like Adam said, go away, use the system a little bit. Then, once they’ve had some experience, then what they want to do differently may change than what they initially think they want to do differently. So some customers like to build a roadmap, multiple phases right out of the gate. Some like to do it over time on the project. We track cost pretty well. We try to talk to the customers about when things change, even if it’s scope change, but not a financial change. We want to track that as an approved change.

So over time, we can say, “Okay, we originally started to do this. It evolved over time, based upon the customer’s priorities, to look like this.” And it typically happens. And as long as they understand it’s going to happen or typically happen, that’s fine. If it’s a surprise to them, then they get worried. And then they start talking about overrun and out of control projects. It’s a different thing, so there’s a way of managing the increased things in scope. And some customers understand this right out of the gate, and they’ll carve a little portion for contingency. And they have a strong governance model in place for that contingency that helps make sure it’s metered out appropriately. It’s not just used because there’s more money needed for the project. It’s going to bring some specific value to the organization.

Adam Storch:

One thing I’ll say if I may add to that, and Fred, one of our project managers, does a great job. What you’ll hear from us, and it sounds weird, maybe the sales guys don’t like it, but when a change order situation comes up, John and I, believe it or not, and you’ll understand when I get to the end of this, we’ll fight the change order in the sense that can we get you live without the change order, and then do the change order. You know what I’m saying? Even more so now, because, to John’s point, as they learn, and I said earlier, when they learn, they want to do more. That’s lovely. We like more work. We’re a consulting firm. But the reality is, can we get live, the value there, and then do the change order?

Guys, we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be around. So you’ll hear that, and Fred, one of the PMs, does a great job of that. He’ll push back. Yeah, we want to do the work. Sure, we’re a consulting firm. But can we go live with what we’ve got, and then do the change order after? Because sometimes, that change order seems more valuable before the system goes live without using it. You know what I’m saying? And where I don’t want to be in a conversation is, “Geez, we did this change order.” And the client says, “Yeah, I didn’t really need that.” And I’m like, “Oh, that’s a fun conversation to have.” So that’s why we really want to get them live. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be around. All our COVID tests were negative, so it’s like, we’re going to be here.

So it’s like, let’s get it live and then add the stuff. And that, we find also helps mitigate the risk. You know what I’m saying? Because what we talked about earlier, the education thing, they think they need that change order now because of where they think their world is at in their head about the solution. As they use it, they may still do a change order, but maybe a different one. You know what I’m saying? One that would be more valuable by virtue of what they’ve learned. And that’s what John talked about, the cost line, that’s the other piece. I can go live, let’s go live. We then go live, let’s do it, and then do more work. And that’s a big deal because we all know the quicker it goes live, the quicker the client sees value, and everybody’s happier. Up and down the line, everybody’s happier, and that’s why they got to go that direction. You know?

Lisa Cavanagh:

And then they can think and see it, to your point. They can see how it operates in their environment and then make more informed decisions with respects to what really needs to change, if anything, as opposed to when you’re in that development cycle. So you guys have had some great thoughts today. I really appreciate the conversation. And I think it’s been really valuable for people to really understand what options they have when they’re trying to deliver, especially in this uncertainty, as you said. Can you guys each share one thing that you would love our listeners to take away from the conversation and really consider?

Adam Storch:

John, you go first.

John Keogh:

One thing. When you’re looking for external help, work with someone you trust and look at it as a relationship you can build over time. And that’s how we continue to build. Adam mentioned we have customers that 15, 20 years, we didn’t get that. We took that by taking a long-term approach and trying to do what’s in the best interest of the customer.

Lisa Cavanagh:

Thank you.

Adam Storch:

And I guess from my side, hey guys, when you start looking at your projects, don’t let the unknown paralyze you. Okay? We all have the unknown. Okay? Obviously, I’d love you to work with us, but if you’re not going to work with us, we’ll still love you to some extent. But say to yourself, when the unknown starts happening, don’t let that stop you. Understand that you don’t know everything, but you got to get to the finish line with that project. All right? That’s a piece I would say or give off to people.

Lisa Cavanagh:

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. It’s been a great conversation. Kelly, thank you very much for hosting us, and have a great Friday.

John Keogh:

Thanks everybody.

Kelley Curtis:

Thanks so much, you guys.

Adam Storch:

Take care. Stay safe and healthy, everybody. Bye-bye.

Kelley Curtis:

Alright, bye.