Typically, a new technology company or business unit has two years to sell enough product to stand on its own. If you are not able to accomplish this, it doesn’t take long before you run out of money. Even worse, company leadership becomes anxious and erratic in their decision making while they struggle to keep the dream alive. This situation is far too common among start-ups and is usually the beginning of a downward spiral towards trying to sell the company or closing the doors.
The main reason behind these downward spirals is lack of enterprise readiness. In the beginning, a solution starts as a prototype or is acquired. At this stage, most people settle for just getting the technology up and running with bare bones functionality. This strategy gets them to market faster, but does not set them up to succeed long term.
Successful companies understand enterprise readiness. It is more than just building a set of product requirements. It is a combination of including requirements within the product and presenting these features to the customer in a way that instills confidence they require before purchasing your solution.
This understanding allows companies to set themselves up to succeed. First, they build their initial release so they can attain enterprise readiness within 12-18 months. This allows them to achieve their financial goals of sustainability. Then, they will structure their organization to provide the services enterprise customers will require to support and implement the solution.
Companies who do not adequately understand enterprise readiness fall subject to major delays and complications that keep them from attaining their goal. Lack of planning often causes companies to have to rewrite or re-architect major chunks of their solution. In most cases, these are major projects requiring several man-months in effort. Depending on the solution, these rewrites introduce complications around upgrades and migrations, as well.
When a rewrite is demanded (even if it is demanded by the market) a company’s management begins to show what they are made of. They need to quickly decide and prioritize doing these projects. In general, management teams struggle allocating resources for projects which do not gain them new functionality. They cannot drown out the constant screams of customers demanding more features. So, management teams easily fall into a state of indecision about what to build first. I have seen management teams take up to 2-3 months to get things all sorted out before they could move forward.
The training industry today limits our understanding of enterprise readiness by only focusing on it in the terms of a single technology (i.e. SQL Server, Active Directory, etc.). But none of the books at Barnes and Noble are going to explain how to meet your customer’s expectations when it comes to enterprise readiness. Instead, focus on how a user perceives your solution and how to present your functionality for maximum impact to the sales process. You will soon discover there is a big difference between building a solution that contains the core requirements of enterprise customers and building a solution you can sell to an enterprise customer.
In today’s technology game, you need every advantage to win. By staying focused on building solutions and services for enterprise customers, you let the expensive do-over’s be your competitor’s problem. And after the two years, you will be selling to enterprise customers and those competitors are looking at your solution wondering how they will ever be able to compete.