Archive for September, 2008

Why US companies are worldwide leaders (continued) – Project management software, the implementation phase

In the last post I shared my observations regarding how US-based companies make enterprise software purchasing decisions in contrast to companies operating in other parts of the world. In this blog, I will share our experience regarding enterprise software implementation projects at US companies versus similar projects executed for companies in other countries.

Once the contract is signed, US companies, in general, are intent on sticking to the project timeline. The client-side resources that were to be allocated to the project at kickoff are indeed made available immediately and dedicated to the project’s success. On the other hand, a Canadian, UK or Australian company is more likely to experience some sort of ‘resource crunch’ where people are shifted to a more urgent matter that delays the project from the outset.

After seeing this happen several times and looking at the facts of each situation, my conclusion is that US companies hire people for more focused well-defined roles, and they fight hard to keep their resources on track. If a new emergency or opportunity comes along they are more likely to hire new resources or allocate other available resources specifically to the new task. They are less likely to saddle existing resources that are already assigned to other projects with multiple new projects and tasks of differing priorities. Non-US companies seem to prefer asking their existing resources to multi-task as much as possible which results in slower response times, slower growth, and higher project failure rates.

Along the same line, US companies are more likely to “keep the core and outsource the rest”. US companies tend to leverage outsourcing more as a strategic advantage. By outsourcing, they reduce internal multi-tasking and invest more in their employees to get specialized in a few key vertical knowledge segments or skill sets. In contrast, non-US companies try to do more things in-house using their own full time employees along with a lot of task juggling.

In the next blog, I will discuss my observations regarding how project scope change is handled as it relates to companies in the US and other parts of the world.

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Why US companies are worldwide leaders

I have been involved in the project management software business for more than thirteen years. Over the years one consistent pattern has been the glaring difference between the decision making efficiency of our American customers versus that of virtually any of our customers in other countries.

After studying this for years, I can comfortably say that an American prospect is highly likely to make a purchasing decision (go/no go) 3 to 4 times faster than a UK, Canadian or Australian prospect. And, an American customer is much more likely to quickly move forward with a project even if there are some unknowns and timeline risks, based on a mutual trust and commitment to the project’s success. Whereas a Canadian prospect, for example, may procrastinate, over-analyze and hesitate to the point that any momentum or enthusiasm for the project is long gone.

This pattern is more evident in times of trouble. American companies seem to invest even more aggressively in tough economic times. In the last 4 quarters, while the rest of the world has started to tighten their belts and reduce software spending, our American customers have actually increased and accelerated such investments so that they can outmatch their competitors.

This type of decision making process and speed makes American companies far more competitive and capable in comparison to their peers in other countries. There are a lot of challenges for the United States of America, healthcare, debt, deficit, war against terrorism/extremism, … but from my observations, on the innovation front, the United States is by far, the absolute global leader.

In the next blog I will talk about my observations regarding enterprise software implementation projects at US companies versus similar projects executed for companies in other countries.

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