Get the most of your global IT supplier

Global IT players deliver reliable service. They have thousands of Siebel resources, many are very talented, especially, in the customer-facing roles. But it takes two to tango. You have to do your part well to deliver great results.
In each project's phase, you need to contribute different things. Here is a list of what often goes wrong and how to avoid it:

Deciding what to build

What to build
Business analysts without deep Siebel knowledge may write a functional design that meets your business goal but is costly to build and maintain. The worst part? Your experienced Siebel vendor will not question it. They will build it to the letter: because clients are always right.
Know Siebel well enough. You have bright analysts who translated business needs into requirements and functional design. But they have limited knowledge of Siebel. Is that a problem? Yes.
Calculate costs and plan maintenance. Siebel implementation is an art. There are several ways how Siebel can help you reach each specific business goal. You call them business requirements or functional designs. Every design will require a different level of Siebel configuration changes, which will drive project's costs and solution’s maintainability.
Get the right person to write your requirements. A vendor will likely treat your functional designs like a holy scripture: it is a source of absolute truth and no vendor employee will challenge it. After all, it is clearly spelled out in your contract. If you sign off a functional design that requires significant Siebel changes, you are likely in trouble.
Make it work in the long term. To get it right the first time, add a seasoned Siebel expert to your analysts' team. Together, you will identify several ways to reach your business objectives with Siebel. Then you will evaluate how much Siebel configuration each alternative demands and choose the best one. In the end, you will have a functional design that reaches the business goal and is easier to configure and maintain.

Deciding how to build it

Deciding how to build it
There is usually more than one way to build your requirements in Siebel. How will you know if your vendor's technical design isn't too complicated, expensive or hard to maintain?
Choose what’s right for you. You have the optimal functional design. Time to move to the technical one. Your vendor offers several solutions, each with its pros and cons. You want to get involved and choose the best one.
Don’t pay too much. Your vendor may provide a price estimate for you to accept. What makes up this price? You cannot tell, if you don’t understand the technical details. Only strong Siebel competence will let you challenge the technical solution chosen by your vendor, question the estimates to complete tasks or the necessity to perform them at all. You can drive down the cost without changing the scope.
Know how to support it. Often it is your organization who will support the solution once the vendor completes the project. You need to make informed decisions to ensure that your Siebel won't be difficult to operate, maintain and develop further.
Get good advisors. The Siebel expert you need working on your side must have two qualifications. First, many years of experience implementing Siebel for various clients. Note: ten years maintaining one Siebel solution are worth much less than ten years configuring Siebel for five or seven different organizations. Second, this person needs to know where Oracle is taking Siebel with each new Innovation pack. Check: does your expert have John Bedford as a LinkedIn connection?

Building it

Building it
No doubt, your vendor will build your solution and it will pass the UAT. But under the hood, it might be a mess.
To build the solution, your vendor will assemble a team from whoever is available to work on your project. The risk is that top performers are usually busy. Most of your execution team is likely to be junior or mediocre developers.
Here are some strategies to mitigate the risk:
  • Control your Siebel configuration changes. Implement configuration change process in your project and have your Siebel expert review the change log. Do some changes make you frown? Take your vendor for a talk.
  • Run configuration review. Once developers have built an important feature, examine how well they have done it. Give them feedback. If you doubt the work quality of a particular developer, tell your vendor why you want to replace this person.
  • Have a backup vendor. Hire another Siebel consultancy to work on a smaller scope in parallel, say, to implement changes in another Siebel module. If you run into issues with one vendor, discuss moving some development items to the other one. Having alternatives makes your negotiation position stronger with both of them.
Do you feel that you have enough Siebel competence on your side? How about adding a heavyweight Siebel champion to your team?
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