Updated: Mar 22, 2018
Do details matter? In IT and in all things in life, absolutely. In the hyper-competitive world of IT and technology do the details really make a difference? Are they still important and should you obsess over the small things? In short: more than ever. Not only are the details still critical, but I believe it is the details that a firm brings to the table that are their competitive advantage. I’ve seen it in our industry for years where some firms (solution providers and VAR’s) think that the details become less important as time goes on. I would argue that they would be wrong. Let’s explore that a bit this month.
Do details matter? In short: more than ever
When I am referring to “details” what do I mean? Let’s put it this way: if you needed to get a task done, either in your personal or business life, do you care about just getting the task done or do you care about how that task is done? I would bet you care about both. I know I do. I take pride in not just getting the task done, but in how I accomplish that task. I’m sure you do as well. Where's he going with this, you ask?
Let’s carry that over to IT. If you have an IT project or service being delivered to you by one of your partners or solution providers, do you, using my analogy above, care about just the results or about how those results are accomplished? I like to think the answer to that one is clear.
Do you care about just the results or about how those results are accomplished?
If the result of the project is to provide a completed XYZ (whatever that is) and you could experience two outcomes: 1) the entire process was smooth, the solution provider was very communicative and responsive, met deadlines, built trust throughout the process and provided a smooth handover or 2) it was wrought with challenges, lack of communication, missed or moved deadlines and questionable work effort, which would you be happy with? Again, the result might be the same in accomplishing XYZ, but the big difference in how you got there. Which would you choose? A bit of a rhetorical question posed here. The journey to these results is where the big difference lies. This journey is all about the details.
Might this be an extreme example? For sure, and that is precisely my point. If you have a contract with an IT firm or solution provider, do you want them only living to the letter of their contract to you or do you expect them to provide more, to go above and beyond? Not contractually, as the “letter of the contract” is what you expect, but the in how they would go above and beyond. That's all about the details. Are the emails, letters, invites and communications you receive from them stellar and precise or are there less than you’d expect? Are their status or project reports and updates crisp, to the point, and exactly what you need, or better yet, better than what you’d expect? That’s the details. The details and the small things matter. At times these might seem to be intangible things, but they do matter. A lot. Your service providers should be obsessing over these details.
The details and the small things matter
These details will drive your decisions and behavior in what solutions you choose and with what firms you will choose to work. Much more than people may realize. I’ll give you two personal examples of how the details helped my own decision making around technology:
I was using a backup utility for my PC’s and external hard drives at home. Used it for years. The pricing was a bit more than others, but I liked the platform and continued to use it. When I started to have issues and had questions about upgrades (I needed more capacity), I reached out to them, and their customer service was less than stellar. In fact, they were very much, not helpful in addressing my issues and questions. It made me think that I was such a long-time user that the details didn’t matter to them. That I wasn’t going to leave them just because I was a longtime customer. Right or wrong, that that’s how they made me feel. So, what happened? I explored another platform that was cheaper and the customer service and the people talking to me were outstanding. Absolutely stellar. Others who use this service have said they are always that way, not just to woo me as a customer upfront. The details matter to keep your customers happy, even if the result might be the same.
Another example is a security camera that I use in my house. I use one brand for outside my house and one for inside my house (don’t ask, long story). The one I use inside my house was having issues. Turns out the manufacturer got rid of their support phone number so you can only open tickets online or via email. This for a service that I pay for via a yearly subscription. When I went online and opened a case, it took them five days to get back to me, where a year ago when I had an issue I called on them on their 24x7 number and they fixed my issue right then and there. Does that affect how I see them? Of course it does. Makes me rethink why I am using (and paying for) their service. The details matter. A lot. This is a great example of how much they do matter.
Many would say on the surface that the details do not really matter. But they do. I’ll state it again: if you have an MSP or service provider that only lived only to the letter of their contract with you in what they provided would you be happy? You might be satisfied, but happy? Maybe or maybe not. I would bet, probably not. We’ve seen it time and time again. If you received sloppy or stellar work for the same outcome or results and you had a choice, which would you prefer?
Some would say that price would at times justify this behavior on not focusing on or overlooking details. Fair point, but not always correct. Our industry is so competitive that pricing is generally about the same for similar products and services, as our customers well know. What’s the differentiator? The details and the firms that obsess over them: the people, the willingness to go above and beyond, the things that make them different from others, that's what. Again, it’s the details that do it.
What does that mean to you? When making your decisions on your partners, vendors, and your service providers, look beyond just the thing they provide or offer. What are those intangibles they provide that make them different that will help make you different in how you run your IT and run your business? Those are the details. That’s what you should be considering when making these decisions (when all else is equal) and these details will become very apparent, very quickly to you. As you can see, this is a long post to talk about “details”. However, the details are much more than just IT. I'll repeat it: the details do matter, a lot.