I have often found that Gary Larson’s “Far Side” cartoons succinctly capture the problems with communication. The cartoon that says “What we say to dogs” and “What they hear” is one of my favorites. In that cartoon you see the man telling the dog Ginger to stay out of the garbage or else, what the dog hears is “blah blah blah blah Ginger blah blah blah Ginger.” To see it on the web, use this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/apotheker/10830160/
In the treasury world we have seen a great disconnect in what Banks, Technology Vendors, and Corporates say to each other and what the other hears:
· A corporate asks for functionality; the vendor delivers complexity.
· Another corporate asks for an easier way to manage accounts; the bank delivers a website that requires 2 weeks of training, has 3 forms of identification required, and does not support work flow.
· A Technology Vendor says that implementation requires 3 weeks of the Corporate’s time; the corporate hears that they can implement the technology in 3 weeks while still doing their full time job.
· A bank says that their product will ease reconciliation; the Corporate hears that the product will do reconciliation.
As consultants we have seen many times when people inside their own firms have had this same problem. IT, Finance, Treasury and Sales all have languages and meanings of their own inside of Vendors, Banks, and Corporates.
You hear what the others are saying, but do you understand? Can you afford not to?
Some techniques to help:
· Spend time learning the processes and procedures that your products will impact at the client, not just generically, but specifically at each client. This is the client lens.
· Determine the client’s real goals for the next few years and determine how your product(s) fit. This is what it means to have a solution.
· Help the client identify the real future needs based on these goals. Again, how do(es) your product(s) and their development
pipeline fit with the client’s needs?
· Define your processes, procedures and current technology by documenting where information comes from, how it flows through
the systems, what decisions it supports, how it is used by other departments and when it is required. Someone will need to pay attention to the format, how it is transmitted, when it is transmitted and who controls or owns the transmission and data.
· Clearly identify the company and departmental goals for the immediate (2-3-year) and 5-year horizons. Articulate how you
intend to use technology to achieve this, and create a document defining your critical needs. Share this document with
your bank and technology vendors. Evaluate them on how well they understand and help you meet these stated
· Meet with IT, Accounting, and any other departments that you support—or who support you. This includes upstream and downstream ‘customers’ Identify how changing technology or technology transmission methods will impact them. Discuss timelines, expectations, and other users of the information.
This won’t eliminate all of the crossed messages and problems, but it will help keep Ginger out of the garbage!