We are doing some advanced training for the field this week on how to sell ECM in the cloud now that all of the pieces are in place and customers are using it for real. At least that's how we advertised it internally: "advanced training". As I was sitting in the United lounge in DC waiting for my 6 hour delayed flight to Atlanta I got to thinking about the "advanced" part of that.
It seems that 12 months ago when we were embarking on this crazy plan I had this huge list of potential issues. I started to blog about them to bring clarity to the tasks. I was considering pricing, services, deployment models, geo-location-related issues, delineation of responsibilities, etc.
Now I struggle to remember what exactly the mystery was. We just educated a room full of experienced account managers with all of the things that they need to understand it in 2 hours. In fact, the only issue that seems to cause anyone any heartburn relates to reconciling the contract for the cloud services to the other contracts that customers have. The rest of it seems so straightforward now.
So what made it simple all of a sudden? IMHO, it was the completion of one document – the services brief. This is a document that explains all of the things included in the cloud offering. The components of the system, security considerations, connectivity into existing systems, the initial build information, roles and responsibilities, how upgrades are handled, details of HA and DR, support management, service level objectives, etc., etc.
All of the technical issues turned out to be things that we needed to solve but that our customers don't need to worry about. Once we created implemented everything in the services brief everything just fell into place.
- Return on Investment: we use the services brief to show the customer what they are getting for their money. They use this to compare the cloud costs to their internal costs.
- Contracts: we attach the services brief to the contract to show what is included.
- Security: the services brief shows all of the components related to security, DR/HA, audit, reporting, etc.
- Delineation of tasks: if it's not in the services brief then it's your problem Mr. Customer.
- SLOs (Service Level Objectives) : most of this is covered in the services brief although the contract forms a key part of the SLO because it is an official agreement.
- License ownership: ditto...you get the idea.
It's not the only document that you'll need, it does not cover everything…the system setup, pricing, terms of sale, etc. but once you have it everything else falls into place pretty quickly.
This document also serves as an important reminder that as a customer you don't need to worry about the "how", just the "what" you get. Armed with the services brief, a contract and a price you are good to go. Maybe there's some minor network config work, some setup or migration but basically the services brief is the core to your agreement with the provider.
Now I'm going to work out how to index my articles without the god awful table of complexity that I used back when this all seemed complicated. My next article..."Why on earth would anyone implement ECM on premise for a new deployment?" ;-)