STAY IN YOUR LANE – 5 Lessons Learnt from Hertz-Accenture $32 million lawsuit

By Lidemta Kawira

Tue May 28

 

 

Many successful people are masters at learning from their successes and failures, as well as the success and failures of others.

The truth is – there is plenty of mistakes every entrepreneur makes. Some are huge and hurt our ego and budget more

 and some have a lesser impact. The biggest ones stay engraved and we learn the hardest lessons from them. Or, so it should be.

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself” Samuel Levenson

Studies have found that adults learn differently than children. One of the three main ways adults learn is andragogy i.e. learning from past experiences – ours or those of other people.

As marketers, our job is prone to us making mistakes but when we can learn from the mistakes of others it surely helps us cut through the noise and fine-tune our approach when faced with a similar situation

Last month, I am sure many of us were scratching our heads as we looked on in amazement at the fiasco that unraveled between Hertz and Accenture over a colossal web design failure.

But I also took this opportunity to reflect on similar mistakes I’ve made in business and was inspired to share with you 5 lessons learned when you don’t stay in your own lane.

  1. Never Over Promise and Under Deliver.
  2. The Importance of Investing In the Right People.
  3. The Importance of Tracking and Reporting Project Progress
  4. The importance of focusing on customer delight.
  5. The importance of risk assessment and management.

 

In business, your drive and ambition are key to your success. However, it’s possible that the very ambition that helps you achieve your goals can become a detriment. Over-promising, inspired by the desire to please a potential client or make a sale, is an easy mistake to make.

Creating the right expectations about the outcome is crucial.

What are the effects of over-promising and under delivering?

Your client: Clients, especially like Hertz who are spending millions of dollars on your product or services, hire you because they have a problem they need to be solved. They do their due diligence to ensure they hire the best personnel to solve their problem.

In the example above, Hertz requested for proposals from several leading technology service providers. After reviewing the proposals, they selected Accenture ‘relying on Accenture’s claimed world-class expertise in website and mobile application development”.

Accenture’s delivery of seriously deficient work product cost the client over $32 million, time wastage because of delayed deadlines, stress with the court case, loss in revenue and missed business goals.

Your business: A major side effect of overselling your business is the damage it causes your business reputation. It damages your standing with your clients, lowers the possibility of getting rehired and also makes it harder to acquire new clients.

Over-promising may lead you to you spreading yourself too thin and dealing with tighter deadlines which are likely to lead to loss of quality.

On top of that, over-promising may cause a breach of contract and your business could face losses and possible legal ramifications, seriously damaging your reputation.

Personal: Beyond the mental and emotional stress which can possibly take a toll on your health, it’s a sure way to lose trust and damage your relationships, both in personal and business life.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey.

At the end, nothing can match the glory of under promising and the benefits of over delivering. People will be surprised by that. They will be closer to you for a longer time, trusting you and believing in you as a leader.

“People really are everything in business” Jesse Jacobs

The importance of having the right people in your team cannot be overemphasized. It’s worth the extra effort to find the right investors, employees, and vendors who believe in your company’s mission and passionately desire to contribute to it.

The true cost of replacing employees can be twice their base salaries depending on their wage, role, and experience. The cost of replacing high performers who often deliver 400 percent more in productivity than their average counterpart can be higher still.

The importance of having the right people in your team couldn’t have been better demonstrated than in the case of Hertz vs Accenture featured above.

‘These technical struggles were worsened by Accenture’s project management failures. In the midst of phase 2 of the project, for instance, Accenture removed some of the most significant team members, including the product owner and the micro-services architect. They were replaced, but their replacements did not have the same level of experience, and a good deal of knowledge was lost in the transition. Accenture acknowledged that its delays and difficulties resulted, at least in part, from the departure of “key resources” during the project.’

 

One of the best project management practices for success is tracking and reporting project progress regularly.

You can keep your project on track with status reports and also by using agile software development. These are important tools used by producers and project managers to keep clients, team members and stakeholders up-to-date.

By using these tools, you will notice some red flags in time. For example:

  • If the number of open issues continues to rise.
  • If contingency plans are used faster than the rate of progress on the project.

In my own experience taking advantage of these tools avoids missing deadlines and saves resources in the process. Our team uses Team Work to manage our client’s projects and tasks and Slack to discuss any pressing issues.

Following best practices cannot guarantee a successful project but they will provide a better chance of success. Disregarding them will almost certainly lead to project failure.

 

Simply put, customer delight is to please your customer. It’s exceeding a customer’s expectations to create a positive customer experience with a product or brand.

By delighting your customers, you can foster an emotional connection and sense of good-will that will make them more likely to be loyal to your brand long-term.

So how can you please your customers?

Some ways by which you can please your customers are by:

  • Listening to them and answering their questions comprehensively
  • Solving their problems
  • Helping them reach their goals
  • Being timely.
  • Listening to their feedback.

From the statement below, Accenture clearly did not delight their customer, and are now paying the price.

‘Accenture decided, of its own accord and without telling Hertz, that it would disregard the fundamental requirements and specifications of the project. Accenture developed an architecture and code that deliberately was not extensible’

 

As we know it’s virtually impossible to work risk-free.

Risk management is the term applied to a logical and systematic method of establishing the context, identifying, analyzing, evaluating, treating, monitoring and communicating risks associated with any activity, function or process in a way that will enable organisations to minimize losses and maximize opportunities.

Risk management is as much about identifying opportunities as avoiding or mitigating losses.

Risks will vary for each project but the main risks to a project must be identified as soon as possible. Plans must be made to avoid the risk, or, if the risk cannot be avoided, to mitigate the risk to lessen its impact if it occurs.

Not managing risks effectively is a common reason why projects fail.

Have you ever found yourself operating ‘out of your lane’? Which lessons did you learn from that experience?