Megan Miller is a senior product marketing specialist for Herndon-based Deltek, the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors, and can be found at www.deltek.com.
Avoiding a Single Point of Failure
May 29th, 2015 by Megan Miller
In the engineering world, we often use the term “single point of failure” to refer to an area that, if it fails, will stop the entire system from working.
When you think about your relationships with your clients, is there a single point of failure?
Some of us may have learned this lesson the hard way – when critical contacts have left clients or reorganizations have resulted in your project changing hands.
So let me ask you, if you look at your key client accounts, how many contacts and relationships do you have? If a power shift happens or even if someone just leaves, do you still have enough relationships to protect the account?
One of the key success factors of leading firms, as identified by PSMJ, is having multiple contacts within key – if not all – accounts. That way, there is no single point of failure; if someone leaves, you have other contacts within the client organization and work can proceed as usual.
How do you accomplish this? It’s more tactical than you might think: successful firms start by mapping out client relationships.
Ask yourself, who are your current key contacts? Where do you need to build relationships?
Through this mapping process, you can ensure that there are no accounts with a single point of contact. If one exists, you can build a plan to expand the depth of your relationships within the client organization.
But, the opportunity for a single point of failure isn’t restricted to the client side.
To effectively tackle this problem, successful A/E firms need to look at their own firm. If you’re not effectively training your employees, building their relationships with clients and delegating work, then you might be your firm’s single point of failure.
When mapping out your internal team, it’s important to identify any employees who have unique skills or areas of expertise, possess outstanding experience with a particular type of project or who perform key tasks within your business. Does only one person know how to run a certain type of report? Does only one employee ever meet with a certain client?
To counter this, it is important to establish mentor relationships and cross-training opportunities within your organization. Remember, by removing opportunities for internal single points of failure, you are also empowering your employees to learn new skills and grow professionally.
But, most importantly, you need the right tools to make this possible.
Whether you’re looking at the client side or within your own organization, an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help make this possible. The right CRM will help you manage relationships for the client as a whole, allowing you to track opportunities, proposals and contacts while also managing how your employees interact with clients.
Don’t allow a single point of failure to get in the way of your project success. Take a closer look at how your employees and clients interact – and how the right CRM can help you manage their relationships more effectively.