Connie Consultant smiled with great satisfaction as she left her client's site for the last time. The project had gone well, and the new customer relationship management (CRM) system she had implemented was top notch. "Great," she thought, "I'll be swimming in new CRM contracts before the end of the month."
But before she could return to her office, she had three phone calls from her client's staff asking how to retrieve complicated reports from the system. Her contract plainly stated that she was responsible for training only the top tier of managers. How could she keep this client from becoming a time drain without damaging the great reputation she had built?
TechRepublic member and IT consultant ketso may have been wondering the same thing when he posted his plea for guidance in our Technical Q&A. Ketso hopes to create a post-implementation sign off document that will "block any loopholes" that allow the client to continue using his services under the initial implementation contract.
Ask a question, post your advice
The Technical Q&A is a forum for TechRepublic members to query their peers about the day-to-day issues they face. Check out the open questions, post your advice and win TechPoints, or post your own question and get some free advice from your peers.
Advice from members
TechRepublic member Glen Maxfield, a project manager from Canada, posted a reply for ketso. A 14-year IT veteran, Maxfield advised ketso to create a post-implementation acceptance document that lists the deliverables agreed upon in the initial contract and discharges both parties from any further obligations for payment or support, except in cases where support was part of the original agreement.
"The post-implementation acceptance should be relatively straightforward: It should address your contract with the client," Maxfield said. "Your contract, or plan document, formed the basis of your engagement. Acknowledging that all contractual obligations have been discharged will formally close the contract."
He encouraged ketso to have a representative from his firm sign off on the document as well so that both the client and ketso’s firm acknowledge that the project is complete.
Member Tim Medhurst recommended an even more detailed sign-off, requiring each deliverable to have completion documentation, creating a paper trail for every step in the process. Medhurst, an independent consultant from Sydney, Australia, prescribes a final user acceptance document that verifies the client's satisfaction with the system and/or service and the results it provides.
Advice from an expert
We also contacted Nancy Bir, a professional services consultant with Ceridian Time and Attendance to find out what advice she had for ketso. Ceridian sells a variety of human resources solutions such as time and labor management, payroll, and benefits administration services. She said Ceridian uses a method similar to that described by Maxfield.
Bir has clients sign a detailed account of the hardware, software, and training they received. It takes the form of a checklist and clients must tick off each component to verify that they've received it, Bir said.
"If it's multimodule products, and they only buy a certain percentage of those modules, you want to document exactly what modules they've purchased," she said. "As far as training, we detail the specific areas of our product that they purchased and were trained on, and they verify that, 'yes, the training was completed.'"
Despite this meticulous post-implementation process, Bir said Ceridian often has clients call for additional support from its consultants. Such requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. For example, if the client has hours remaining on a contract, Ceridian works with them for the remainder of the time.
"If it takes longer than that, we would issue a new contract for two or three days, or whatever is needed," she said.
If the client doesn't have any hours remaining and doesn't want to sign on for any more, Bir said, company policy dictates that she offer them Internet or phone support and introduce them to a member of Ceridian's support staff. Bir said she often gives clients a little free advice to keep them happy with Ceridian’s service and products.
Help ketso and other members
Do you have more advice for keeping resource-draining clients at bay? Send us an example of your post-implementation documentation. If we think that other consultants could benefit from your work, we’ll publish it on our site as a download and send you 50 bucks!