The best thing about any software company is ‘the people’. Sure the software is important – but it is entirely a reflection of the people on the team. Ever since I have been involved in software I have seen this to be true and it remains the most important thing for me here at eOne.

When I started in software and implementing ERP – one of the most important things to the success of a project was the ‘ability of the project team to build relationships’ with the customer. The software itself was secondary. The better the implementation team and their ability to engage and build trust – the better the software solution that would be left in place when the implementation team had finished and moved on to the next project. You could take the exact some software – with a different team of implementers and get a significantly inferior result.

If we look at ‘cloud software’ you would assume that the success was purely software related and really did not need a ‘people’ focus. This could not be further from the truth in most cases I have reviewed. A company I have watched for a while is who sell online, cloud only recruitment management software. You would think a cloud CRM for recruiters would be a simple process of delivering software – if you check out their website you will find the number one catchphrase is “Support so good, You’ll want to hug it”. There is something about that statement that makes me want to buy the software – even though I don’t work in recruitment!

I was recently visiting with a Canadian partner that exemplified the people strategy brilliantly. This partner knew their customers – by that I mean they knew their business and they knew them personally. In a five minute period I was introduced to three of that partners customers. The conversations started like this:

     1. “Come and meet Martin. Martin this is Jenny – she has married and Australian from Bendigo and they started a restaurant together a few streets from here.”

     2. “Hey Michael come and meet Martin. He is showing off his SmartView product at 1pm – make sure you are there. It is perfect for your business and will solve some of those reporting issues. To which Michael replied “I will go and watch it – but I really don’t need to. If you tell me it is the tool I need then I’ll buy it!”

     3. “Jason come over here. This is Martin he owns eOne. I remember you had an issue  with connecting to the SmartConnect webservice – did you get that totally resolved?” As it turned out Jason did have some issues and I was able to help resolve them same day and getting him running smoothly. 

The point that nailed home for me was that this company was truly ‘service focused’. Everyone at this company had a service mentality. What this led to was:

     1. Customers buying more software in a shorter sales cycle.

     2. Customers being happy to pay for services – as they were only ever sold value.

     3. Customer who rightfully believed they owned really good ERP software.

     4. Customers who were happy to share with other customers – making a very strong ecosystem.

     5. A fun, caring environment where consultants and software people want to work.

     6. Consultants who were passionate about the software they delivered. Really passionate. WHY?  

Because they delivered value and knew that every new feature

they showed would make other peoples lives better. 

Now let’s compare this with some other software delivery models. I have also been watching Microsoft CRM Online sales closely. There is a model where you can go onto a Microsoft site – and sign up for CRM Online free trials (no pesky people involved other than a series of ‘upgrade now email messages’). The problem is that this is complex software – it needs implementing. It needs people who know how to hang all the parts together to make it work FOR YOU. So from all reports the conversion rate of those companies that sign up online and then go ahead and purchase is a long way from what Microsoft would have hoped. Complex business software needs expert implementers to make it successful.

If you run a software company the message is very simple– keep it people focused.