Jun 12, 2023

Hitting the Easy Button for APS Software Implementation

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When it comes to implementing an advanced planning and scheduling software solution, there are various questions and concerns that arise. In this live event, featured guest, John Buglino Director of Sales and Marketing at Optessa, addressed some of the common questions raised by manufacturers worldwide. John sheds light on the implementation process and challenges faced by both Optessa and its clients. As you dig into the video, you will gain insights into how Optessa works closely with its customers to maximize efficiency and overcome obstacles along the way.


Event Summary

Question: Who is Optessa and how can you help? 

Answer: Optessa, we are an enterprise software solution, looking to speak with manufacturers all over the world, looking to increase efficiencies in their operations. 

Question: What does that implementation process look like? 

Answer: The first step is really articulating the needs, right, we have to understand what we're there for and what we need from the customer. So I think that's a big piece of it is really making sure they know that we know that this is probably not the top of their list, even though they say it is, and making sure that we work together on the timelines and make sure we work together on getting the data we need.

Question: How long does your production scheduling implementation process take? How long does it take from start to finish on average? 

Answer: It definitely varies. So to answer your question, we can say that we will be there. And we'll support an aggressive timeline of three to four months, what usually will happen is that we're pushed out at least six months, because of seasonality. So I think that's where if you're not ready to dedicate at least six months of your dedicated resources, your people and the time and the facility, it's going to take even longer.

Question: What are some of those data pieces that you need to know during that initial process? 

Answer: So the bare minimum that we need, we need to know your systems of record or your system of record. So that could be an ERP, it could be a spreadsheet, it could be some homegrown in house system that's been in live use for you know, years.

Question: What are some of those common challenges that you're facing during implementation, that the client is facing? And how do you address those when they happen? 

Answer: the team involved in this implementation has a day job, like they are not here to be at our beck and call, we have to maximize our time with them. The other piece is that we have to make sure we understand that things are gonna go wrong when we're implementing the software, right? So there's going to be firefighting that's going to be done. We're going to see firsthand what the problems are. And we have to make sure we can relate back what's happening to the customer through how we're viewing it. 

Question: To recap, the common challenges are just time, lack of time, lack of resources Any other challenges?

Answer: Another issue that we have is that we're not getting the full story. If you're holding something on a whiteboard, or there's tribal knowledge, sitting with some engineers, somewhere, we need that as part of it. So we have to make sure we get that full picture from the client as well. This way we can then deliver the right solution and the right output based on what they're telling us.

Question: How do you handle the challenges of unclear or non-existent processes during implementation?

Answer: Simple, we leave them out. The software can only understand things that are digitized, or things that can be sent to us or transferred back and forth at scale

Question: Who do you recommend, be involved in this implementation process? From the company side? What from a resource perspective who in the company is ideally suited? Best to be in the room? When implementing the software? What do you recommend there?

Answer: So you have to bring everyone in, to really understand what really is going on, or what the priorities are for the business. Because everyone's gonna look out for their gaps.

Question: What are some of your recommendations in dealing with or addressing their technical debt? 

Answer: So the answer, to put it simply, we try to take as much of the lift off the customer as we can, during this process. So if they tell us, say for example, they have an ERP or even if they have an Excel spreadsheet, we will let them know and coach them on how to get that software, how to get that data into our software, and we'll do it for them. 

Question: How would a business be able to measure the success of their production scheduling implementation?

Answer: So at every phase, even before we get a sign, like a signature wet signature on that PO, we're helping and delivering back to the customer. Because there's so much that comes down from having these conversations and meeting them at that vulnerable point. But there'll be a lot of other little micro conversions and micro successes along the way, that kind of come free of charge. They just will help you your business process, your improvements, will align your team increase the efficiencies, it's all going to come out over that span of that implementation,

Question: What do you do with these companies who give a lot of resistance? How do you manage that?

Answer: One of the biggest misconceptions with our software is that they feel like we want to rip out what's there. So some of these clients are like, also, you're going to take away our ERP, or you're gonna take away our CRM, it's like, no, no, we're going to complement what you're doing there. 


Full Transcript

Curt Anderson  04:28

So let's just dive in. Talk to the folks, who and what is Optessa?

John Buglino  05:01

So, Optessa, we are an enterprise software solution, looking to speak with manufacturers all over the world, looking to increase efficiencies in their operations. We've been doing this for over 20 years. We have commitments for customers for the next decade and again, it's going back to just the relationship building side of it, and just being where the customers need us to be, and what our customers need us to do. 

Curt Anderson  05:44

Nicole, what do you think about this little party that we're having about the easy button software solutions? It's overwhelming. It's daunting, challenging? What are your thoughts as far as hitting this easy button on software implementation?

Nicole Donnelly  06:16

Oh, man, anytime you're going through any sort of digital transformation it's a massive investment of time and resources typically. So I guess my question for you, John, is, as you are working with your new client, your new customers, and they're having to implement this new software and really, honestly take a look at their process and figure out how they're going to, you know, move that process and have this software kind of understand all of the variables that go into creating production planning, right? What do you guys do? What does that implementation process look like?

John Buglino  08:24

I think that the first step is really articulating the needs, right, we have to understand what we're there for and what we need from the customer. So we have to drive it, right, because the customer doesn't know what they don't know. And we have to just ask the right questions, to then get the data or get the inputs, we need to then help with the implementation process itself. And that itself, is a long conversation. Because like I said, the customers and you've mentioned it are so complex, and if so many people are involved, from the end users. And the other really big constraint that we're going to talk about a little bit is these people also have a day to day job. And implementing software is the last thing they want to do. So that's, so we meet them there. And we make sure we know that. And they know that as well as that we're trying to be as easy going as possible. While also understanding that they also have other things to do on their day to day. And we've been now that we're out of the, you know, the COVID piece of it, we've actually been going on site. This way, we just make ourselves available. And we're not relying on meetings happening or meetings being delayed by an hour and losing an entire day. Now we're in the offices where the implementations are happening or where the people are working out of. So we can really just be there for them when they're ready. So if it gets delayed two hours, fine. We're sitting in the conference room, or we're sitting off and we're at the hotel still. Right, then we Just come and meet them when they're ready, and then we start to go to work. So I think that's a big piece of it is really making sure they know that we know that this is probably not the top of their list, even though they say it is, and making sure that we work together on the timelines and make sure we work together on getting the data we need.

Nicole Donnelly  10:19

Love that sounds like it that the first phase is just making yourselves really accessible to them, by being on site by really understanding what their process looks like very deeply, so that you're eliminating as much as possible that friction of like, not knowing or not having context, first of all,

 John Buglino  10:38

Yeah, we get that foundation done. And then from that foundation layer, that's when all the questions start. That's when it'd be great if or what if we call that scope creep, because once we start having the conversations and the pains really start coming out, now it's a matter of just pulling things off a little bit. So for example, we might be brought in by a customer that has an issue with inventory, right? They want to make sure they maximize the use of their inventory, whether it be finished goods, or raw. But then we would say, well, we can also layer in your labor, and they go wait, you can actually take our shift patterns too. And it's like, hold on, we'll get there next. But it's a matter of getting that foundation done, making sure we have what we need, and then growing from there, and keep that scope creep a little bit further behind. And make sure that we take things as they come. And everyone stays focused on what's needed. So we're there to talk about inventory, we have to exhaust all the channels, all the systems, all the data inputs, all the people around those inventory constraints before we start layering in other items or other departments.

Nicole Donnelly  11:49

I see. So it sounds like you've taken a phased approach. And really, you're kind of trying to tackle one constraint at a time. So you are working with inventory constraints first, and how are you going to build the system to manage that? And then you move on to labor, for example? And how long does that process take? Like? How long does your production scheduling implementation process take? How long does it take from start to finish on average? 

 John Buglino  12:22

It definitely varies. So every customer, either watching this, or everyone that's involved in these types of processes, want it 90 days, three months, will sign with you, as long as you're in and out. And within three months, and we're live, that has yet to happen, because of issues that have come up from the customer side of things. So like I said, we're on site, and we're there for a week, and we don't get the dedicated time we need. We just lost the week, right? And that's just something that we just, we're not mad about, it's just a fact. So to answer your question, we can say that we will be there. And we'll support an aggressive timeline of three to four months, what usually will happen is that we're pushed out at least six months, because of seasonality. Like I said, these people are already busy, vacation time and planning things. So we're dealing with our own constraints of rolling out our own software. Right. So I think that's where if you're not ready to dedicate at least six months of your dedicated resources, your people and the time and the facility, it's going to take even longer, right. So it's great to know that they want to be aggressive, we meet them with the aggressive side of things. But then we still were blown out six weeks or six months, if you will there. But again, we have to get that foundation piece of it, we have to get as much as much data as we can. And as much as we can, during the conversations this way, we're not wasting anyone's time. This way we can move to the next phases of the implementation where we start actually delivering software to kind of look at

Nicole Donnelly  13:56

What are some of those data pieces that you need to know during that initial process? Like what are the data elements that you're capturing so that you can really make sure you're architecting this solution for them in the right way?

John Buglino  14:05

So the bare minimum that we need, we need to know your systems of record or your system of record. So that could be an ERP, it could be a spreadsheet, it could be some homegrown in house system that's been in live use for you know, years. So we have to understand where the bulk of the data is coming from related to the problem we're looking to solve. So if it's related to we'll stick with inventory, we need to make sure we understand where all those inventory numbers are currently, and where they're going to be coming from whence once we have the implementation done, so some of our clients want to do manual, some want to do share tables, or some want to do API and write directly to it. So we need to understand where all that data is coming from. And we also need to understand the capacities related to it, and also the constraints or your business rules that you want to adhere to or what's being done. What's the whole purpose for the software? So if you say you want to make sure you pay attention to safety stock levels, or you want to make sure you use your partially finished goods before you tap into raw material, that's all stuff that comes out in the conversations.

Damon Pistulka  15:15

I mean, I have been part of more than one ERP implementation. And when you try to do them all at once, it's just a mess, man. It's just a mess. And you have to break it down. And compartmentalize, like you said.

John Buglino  15:47

So if you're not being fully transparent, or you're forgetting a system, what good is it's only the system and the implementation, and the software is only as good as the inputs. So if you're missing 50%, then the quality is going to be 50% less than what it was because you're not giving us everything we need.

 Curt Anderson  16:14

I love how you've broken it down, meet the customer, where they're at.

 Nicole Donnelly  17:08

Yes. So okay, you talked about some of that you just talked about sometimes there's delays that happen, right. And usually, like, some things happen on the customer side, I think that's one of the biggest things I think we should talk about is what are some of those common challenges that you're facing during implementation, that the client is facing? And how do you address those when they happen? 

John Buglino  17:42

Yeah, so in no particular order, so I'm just gonna go based on the top three. So the biggest thing I think I mentioned earlier, is the team involved in this implementation has a day job, like they are not here to be at our beck and call, we have to maximize our time with them. So what we do is we make sure if we have, say, a four hour block, which I know sounds like a lot of time, which it is, it's a half a day, for some of these, you know, individuals involved, we make sure we tell them what we want to cover, and also what we're not going to cover. This way we prepare them ahead of time again, where the experts are coming to the customer. So this is where our 20 plus years of knowledge of what we need for our solution comes to play. So we said we need four hours, here's what's going to happen over the next four hours. And here's what's also not going to happen in the next four hours. So we lay that out with the customer. And sometimes we can even shorten the meeting, there may be internal resources that they can send us or there might even be someone else that can answer those questions for us. So we have to be very clear around what we need and why we need it. The other piece is that we have to make sure we understand that things are gonna go wrong when we're implementing the software, right? So there's going to be firefighting that's going to be done. We're going to see firsthand what the problems are. And we have to make sure we can relate back what's happening to the customer through how we're viewing it. So again, if they're having problems in inventory, when we're there for a week or two weeks for the implementation, we might see a real case come up when something might go wrong with a supplier or something might go wrong with the machine or something might go wrong with “insert problem here”. So we're going to be on the ground with them and see it firsthand. I think another thing with the implementation where it really goes wrong is that you try to do too much and nothing gets done. Right. So there's the beauty of saying no to the customer. So you have to be able to tell them no. So if again, if our project manager lays out an agenda for the meeting, we don't have time for you to say but what if no We will take that into consideration for another meeting. But here are the steps we need to follow. So we have to be a little bit, I'm gonna say harsh, but we have to be a little more. We can't get to it. Right? If it's for ourselves, we're going to do the four topics, anything outside of it, it's got to be delayed, or it's got to be pushed through another meeting. So we have to make sure that we keep control over the whole situation.

Nicole Donnelly  20:23

Yeah, I love that, because you're working with ops leaders, you know, high level executives that are part of this, and their time is so critical for them, they don't have time to beat around the bush. And so I love that you're really focused on making sure that you have a plan for them, and that you're guiding them through it so that it's very clearly articulated what needs to happen. 

John Buglino  20:44

We're there for a reason, we will see the problems firsthand. Right, we will see it, we will live it, we will be a part of it. And again, that's part of what we need to understand. If there's especially a data gap, or there's something that goes wrong or something so we can understand how the team reacts and who gets involved and how long it takes them.

Nicole Donnelly  21:04

Yeah, so the common challenges are just time, lack of time, lack of resources is a big one and how to manage that. Okay, any other challenges? What are the others?

 John Buglino  21:18

So the other challenge with the implementation process is, again, like I said, they try to do too much with what they have or what they need. And dedicating the time to the actual implementation itself. Right, I think the other piece of it is, again, not too “bad mouth” the customers like they don't want to show you all their cards, which I think is another issue that we have is that we're not getting the full story until things really hit the fan, right? Because they don't want to show you how bad it is. But at the same time, we want to be there for them and establish that relationship, because we need to know how bad it is to truly fix it. Right? You don't get into an ERP and say, Everything's just great. Everything's working, we're so good, we're there for a reason. Just lay it all out, because the end result is going to be dictated by what we do to set things up. So like I said, if you're holding something on a whiteboard, or there's tribal knowledge, sitting with some engineers, somewhere, we need that as part of it. So we have to make sure we get that full picture from the client as well. This way we can then deliver the right solution and the right output based on what they're telling us.

Curt Anderson  22:35

So what I love there, John, a couple of things, you know, just kind of recap is, you know, communication is absolutely critical. And I know, like, you know, from an E commerce standpoint, what we found is like, you know, it's just purely out of inexperience, or I hate to use the word ignorance, just, you know, customers don't know what they don't know. Yeah. And even if you come in as a subject matter expert on your software, you don't know their processes, the way that they know their processes. So it's like, that's where the missed expectations sometimes fall when there's just a misalignment there. And it's, I don't want to say it's anybody's fault or non fault. It's just like, how do we just, you know, really try to prevent those things from slipping through the cracks. And lastly, what I absolutely love that you said is like, when is too much too much. And as that subject matter expert, you're coming in, where sometimes you have to be like the parent, or the school teacher, where you've got to be a little bit firm, and say, Hey, guys, this is a little too much right now we just, you know, that might be phase two, or phase three, let's say laser focused to get into the end zone. Now, Damon, any comments on your end?

Damon Pistulka  23:38

Yeah, you hit one of them is that just because the technology will do it doesn't mean you're gonna do it, right, you gotta start, you gotta crawl, walk, run the basics. And the second thing that we see a lot when we're automating stuff in Ecommerce companies is that we don't do the automation, but we're working on the project, right? If you don't know all the situations that are going to cause something to air out, not communicate back and forth, right, all these kinds of things. So you might go on a Tuesday at two o'clock when our system updates this way bla bla bla bla, bla, take it, it stops, dies, right, for some reason, or spits out the wrong data. Or for some reason, after, you know, 1000 things, or one of the things if you get into high volume applications that we found is like, if you do 1000 of these in 10 minutes, it only processes 200 at a time. Well, that's a big problem. You know, there's all these situational things that with you guys on site, you can see those and go, Oh, this is what we got to change, we got to change. It's like the difference between getting an API description. And then the API is actually working together. Right, two different things.

Curt Anderson  24:50

How do you handle the challenges of unclear or non-existent processes during implementation?

John Buglino  25:14

Simply, we leave them out. The software can only understand things that are digitized, or things that can be sent to us or transferred back and forth at scale. So if there's something that, for example, we've had a couple customers that use time cards, like physical timing, you know, stamp the timecard, to let me know when someone starts their shift, that we can't get that input into the software. Because that timestamp machine is not integrated with any system that's going to then talk to our solution. So the other, the only way to really do it is we will backburner that, because that is something that we will not prioritize, because that's something that's going to take away from the other parts that are digitized and ready or ready to rock and roll. But we will take that and say the solution will be to enhance the future state based on time cards, or based on labor timings in and out if you will. So we have to be very clear about what we can get versus what we will get versus what we cannot get. And I think that's what comes out in the conversations when we look at the tech stack. So if we're working with a customer that has an ERP, a CRM, and MRP spreadsheets in how systems, what lives where and what data is coming from, where, and that's a big discussion, this way we understand where the inputs are, what we do have, and then also, once we have that, then it's understanding, okay, which systems are tied to the problem, that is the core of why we're here. And then we prioritize that system, to your point Daymond to make sure if it's an API, or a shared table, or a manual piece, how do we get that data to talk to and be with our software to then look at that problem specifically, and then everything else trickles after that. So I think that's the old piece of it is if it's unclear or non-existent, it's not a priority. It's a future state, and we'll build and grow. It's a long commitment to work with us, it's a three year you no commitment, which might sound like a lot. But if we're using six to 12 months just to implement, that's only two years working with the software. They're still training, they're still utilizing, they're still getting in generating ROI, we will grow with you and mature with you. And we again, will take the notes of what are the future state aspirations and work with the team.

Nicole Donnelly  27:46

I love that because in the spirit of hitting the easy button, you're simplifying this whole process and like you said, meeting them where they are, so that it's reducing the Oh, anytime digital transformation, so overwhelmed. It's reducing the overwhelm significantly for them. And so I really love that approach a lot. I think it really helps them to feel like okay, sheesh, I don't have to have 10 billion things figured out, I just need to make sure the data that I do have gets into their hands, the process that is, you know, set up and, you know, documented and in place, that's what we need to work with. And then we can, you know, visualize, move on to the next more complicated part of this right for us. So I love that. That's awesome.

Curt Anderson  28:29

Okay, I have to interject, we had multiple mic drop moments. And Nicole, thank you for recapping but that was really a saver moment. So John, for everybody out there, you have to go back and hit the rewind button. And to just savor what John just laid on us right there. Dude, that was just preach worthy. 

Damon Pistulka  28:57

When it's time to when you're thinking about what you can do, right? We need people like John that says, we're here to build the house. We don't care about the swimming pool in the yard. Right? That's later. And that's why it's so important to do that because every time you go in there and you know, there's people that like to talk about that stuff. And that's great. There's a time for it, but focusing on what you have to get done. And the reason why you're here today is so critical. And you guys giving people that is huge. Yeah.

Nicole Donnelly  29:56

Yeah, so maybe just going along with that. It sounds to me like that you guys are just so flexible, right? That's what I've seen in terms of you're going to meet them where they are, depending on what ever up test is a very downstream solution, right? It's all you, it's based on whatever existing ERP CRM they already have in place, right? So it sounds to me and maybe talk about this a little bit is, you know, whether they're working only with Excel spreadsheets, or whether they're working with a whiteboard, or whether they have a really advanced ERP. It sounds like Optessa is there, you guys are just going to come in and just meet them with whatever software that they're using? And how does the process differ depending on where they're at? Do you know what I mean? Like, if they're only using a whiteboard, versus they have this complex ERP?

John Buglino  30:46

Yeah, they still have to articulate the problem, right, they can still tell us what the gaps are, or where the gaps are or what they are aspiring to, right. So again, we do, we meet you where you are, and we get you where you want to be, that's really, the end of the day, that's what we want to do for all of our customers. So if they're using in-house systems, or they're using other software that just isn't supposed to be generating optimal plans and schedules, like we can be bold enough and say you're doing it wrong, here's how we need to go forward together. So we have to make sure we have enough data, and we have a big enough problem with the customer for them to then utilize us. Right. So if they don't have their customer orders, their constraints, or their capacities to where we can pull them into the software, we can help you like that's the bare minimum. And there's other providers that ask for three or four times that we try to peel all the way back to just the bare minimum to generate that optimal plan and schedule. Because we've noticed that those three bare minimums are also the end result of other solutions that say they can do optimal plans and schedules or advanced planning and scheduling for a customer. So if an ERP is how you're utilizing, or to generate these plans and schedules, you're getting that our jump off point is your end result with them. So where they end, and say we're doing everything we can for you is where we just get started. And we say that's just our jump off point. And let's add on later on. So we'll meet you where you are, we'll work together to get you where you want to be. And we just have to be very open, honest and transparent. And we'll get there together.

Nicole Donnelly  32:39

So let's talk about being open, honest and transparent. And just like who do you recommend, be involved in this implementation process? From the company side? What from a resource perspective who in the company is ideally suited? Best to be in the room? When implementing the software? What do you recommend there?

John Buglino  33:00

Anyone that wants to help? It really is. And I say that, because we've been involved when the CEO was involved, the CEO wasn’t involved, the CEO and COO didn't get along, and they didn't understand, you know, the different gaps between the two. So just like when you're selling to the companies, you deal with different priorities. And they mean, you probably know, you get different stories of what good looks like or where the gaps are, where the leaky bucket is. So you have to bring everyone in, to really understand what really is going on, or what the priorities are for the business. Because everyone's gonna look out for their gaps. At the end of the day, the CEO wants to make sure it's a healthy bottom line, the CFO wants to spend a little amount of money, and the CEO wants to make sure his team is efficient. How do you get everyone together? And the answer is you do that you get everyone together that's involved in the process. And we have an ID ideation session where we interview every single person and say, Tell me what's going on. Tell me in your own words, where we can improve, tell us where you feel the gaps are, and then we get everyone together. And we basically put it on a whiteboard, and we talk about it. And we understand the priorities we understand, you know, just with that Venn diagram, where you look at everyone and see where everyone's meeting and you meet them there. But we really need everyone to be open, like I said, transparent to be involved. If the person that's having the problem isn't involved in the process, you're never going to solve the problem. If the person that's involved with the inventory isn't giving you all the numbers related to inventory or giving you the issues coming from suppliers, what good is it we need to make sure we have everything we need to give you the solution that you deserve?

Curt Anderson  35:00

I got a great question from Karen here, going on Nicole's comment about overwhelming the customer and meeting them where they are, what are some of your recommendations in dealing with or addressing their technical debt? Again, so they don't get overwhelmed. Karen, thanks for joining us. Great question. Yeah,

 John Buglino  35:17

That's an awesome question. So the answer, to put it simply, we try to take as much of the lift off the customer as we can, during this process. So if they tell us, say for example, they have an ERP or even if they have an Excel spreadsheet, we will let them know and coach them on how to get that software, how to get that data into our software, and we'll do it for them. Right, so we just say, this is where your system of record is, or these are your data points. Okay, we'll get into the software. We'll do it manually right now. We'll make sure it gets in there. We'll take that lift. So again, it's we have to meet them where they are so if they're not mature from a digital standpoint, or if they are mature and that systems are talking to each other we will work to bridge those gaps and take on more of the lift for that customer on their behalf of that

Nicole Donnelly  37:26

Let's keep this going. This is great. So what if I'm a business, and I'm thinking about, you know, investing in the software, and I'm like, man, I gotta, I gotta get something better here than what we've got. How would a business be able to measure the success of their production scheduling implementation? Like, what are some? Like, if you're going through the process? What does success look like for a company? Who's, who's going down this path?

John Buglino  37:59

Yeah, success. I mean, we want to, we want to address the main problem. And there's sometimes successes, before we even get started, right, we might even be able to help you with your business process gaps before we even implement the software. And I said, asking the right questions during the first phase of our implementation to understand if data isn't where it needs to be, or there is not enough data or the data quality just isn't there, it forces the business to make a change, to grow and mature at that point of it. So at every phase, even before we get a sign, like a signature wet signature on that PO, we're helping and delivering back to the customer. Because there's so much that comes down from having these conversations and meeting them at that vulnerable point of okay, we understand that you're broken right now. But we'll work together to help that. And ultimately, we'll help you fix your problem or your inventory, fix the problems of what happens if something doesn't come on time from your supplier, we'll get there. But there'll be a lot of other little micro conversions and micro successes along the way, that kind of come free of charge, right? They just will help you your business process, your improvements, will align your team increase the efficiencies, it's all going to come out over that span of that implementation, each phase that we have, and that we go over, there's going to be wins and there's going to be peaks and valleys, but there'll be wins and ways to grow throughout that process.

Nicole Donnelly  39:32

Yeah, I love it. Because through the implementation, you are really forcing them to really be thoughtful, and try to figure out how they can refine their processes. So that's, that's, you know, from my experience, just doing any sort of digital ecommerce project with with some of the clients that I've worked with, change is really a big huge deal, especially for manufacturers, you know, they are so there's a lot of fear, I think, and they're used to doing things a certain way. And they say, this is how I've always done it. So, you know, one of the things that, you know, I got advice from Tony, our friend, Tony Martin Eddie, who came on the show. And he gave some really great advice. He said in the show, I'll never forget, he said, You have to like it, anybody who's going through change, there needs to be you need to preserve some kind of like the original part of whatever process business or whatever they need to take that with them into the change. They're not like, letting go completely of whatever they built in the past. So maybe, could you talk about that a little bit? Like, what do you do with these companies who maybe just like, get you, they give you a lot of resistance? Once you get into it? Right, what they thought it was ends up being, like, a lot more involved than what they were expecting? How do you manage that? And what do you do to help preserve kind of like, I don't know what they already have?

John Buglino  40:56

Teah, well, one of the, one of the biggest misconceptions with our software is that they, they feel like we want to rip out what's there. So some of these clients are like, also, you're going to take away our ERP, or you're gonna take away our CRM, it's like, no, no, we're going to complement what you're doing there. So we don't want to change how you go about your day to day. That's also why during the implementation, we understand where the data is coming from this way, we can mirror it in our software, because the last thing you need is another layer of a manual process or a process for you to learn something new. So if you have a 25 character sales order, that's how it goes into our software, we're not going to say, Oh, it's 25, we're going to make a 30. Because we have to add our own little code to it. Now we're going to give you exactly what you need. Because we want to make sure that you can hit the ground running as soon as possible. And we want to make sure if you have gone back to earlier, if the data doesn't exist, we're not going to shoot on it, we're not going to pretend it's there and say we'll get to it. If it's not there, we're just going to move past it. And we're going to develop the solution based on what we have. Right? That's another piece of it, as well as that. The companies will say, well, let's wait a little bit until we implement over here or do something over here or have this happen here or we change all for the supplier numbers. No, no, let's take it for what it is now. And then add on later on. Right? Because if you say all we're changing our good one is labor management system, right? They're switching providers, and now they're going to be able to digitize timecards. Well, we can if you don't have that data now, if there exists somewhere now where it's manual, let's just keep that where it is. And then as you implement that new software six months later, then we'll come back and we'll implement that and connect that and figure out how to leverage it right right now, or at that point, we don't have to delay something because you're in progress with things. Take it for what it is now. And let's grow and extend together. Because there's no no reason we can't at that point. So we don't want to rip anything out, we just want to be very clear on what the expectations are and what we need. And then we can move forward together on this old software journey that will go on.

Nicole Donnelly  43:21

It doesn't need to be perfect, right? 

John Buglino  43:29

And that's why that's why we phase it. Because the first phase, the first phase, we develop a rough cut. Second phase, we develop a little bit more of a fine tune based on results of the UA T, right, all this data in a pass in right or this is in here or what happened to this. So we continue to fine tune until we get to the point where it's like everything's where it needs to be, we can go live and we full on implement and, and push the button and say okay, you guys are not alive. But if it takes six months for you it takes six months for you at like we're not going to hold you to a firm date because we know things are going to change. Right and we know things are going to be modified and go on like that's just what we have to do and be a part of. So we have to phase these things out. We have to have checks and balances in place. This way we're working at this together because if we deliver something that's half, the results are going to be half and then you're not gonna be happy. So we have to make sure we get everything dot the i's cross the T's. 

Nicole Donnelly  44:31

I love what I'm hearing because I think it's just so true about any digital transformation is there's never really truly an end it's always an evolution right. And I think if customers go into this understanding that like your when your eCommerce store launches, that's just the beginning right or when you when you first when you implement your production planning software. This is just the beginning and so like it's the more people can shift and see like this is we're continually growing evolving. There's an Never gonna be an end goal. Maybe it takes less of the pressure off for them to feel like it needs to everything needs to be set up perfectly first in order to do this, because we got to get you know what I mean? So that's, that's really I love that approach.

Damon Pistulka  45:13

Here's a great example. We used to just use use these to talk

Damon Pistulka  45:23

And if you didn't answer you just had a call back later.

 Nicole Donnelly  45:26

Right? Right. Can you imagine what Steve Jobs was trying to get it to what it is now when he first started it way back when?

Damon Pistulka  45:36

it's just, it's just, it's so right in this that you know, because each step, each stage, when you start, you start testing, you learn something, we didn't know this, but now we know this. Now we want to we and you just keep going. And it's a continual process. But that's why it's so cool. Because you just keep building that foundation, it gets stronger and stronger. Right? Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole Donnelly  46:00

This is wonderful. Well, guess what? I'm out of questions.

 Curt Anderson  46:05

You're out of no way. Oh, man, we got plenty. But I know we're coming in and time I want to be mindful of everybody's time, as we start winding down. John and I, you've covered a ton. And forgive me if this is kind of an overlap. See, if you took like, you know, if you were to score an implementation on one to 10, one being, we have a lot of improvement to go 10 being like, Man, this was a home run. What common characteristics? What do you seen in your tents? What do you see? Like what what, you know, prep, you've mentioned, communication, expectations, laser focus, you know, distract the squirrels and the shiny objects. So like, you know, from your experience, what do you see are like hardcore tense, where you're able to hit the ball out of the park?

John Buglino  46:51

Yeah, the biggest thing I know, I've said a bunch already is, if the team dedicates the time to articulate where the data is, and what they want the data to do, those are the 10s. If they just give us that time, it could be an hour, it could be two hours, it could be four, you know, we just need to have the time for them to articulate all that to us. And then we take it and run with it. Right. At the same time, like I said, Where are the experts here, were being brought in to solve a problem, we know what we need, the team just has to meet us at least halfway to give us the time, and the ability to understand where that's coming from, and then we go off, right, so we won't always need the C suite involved. But when we deliver something to the C suite, it's going to have checks and balances in it, it's going to have, we're going to be able to itemize out what we're going to show and also what we're going to show future state, right, so the expectations will be set. And we will make sure the project plan goes off the way it needs to. And if there's bumps, we articulate that back to the business as well, right. So for example, if we're an implementation, and one of the lead operations, team members goes on vacation, we have to put that off to the side and say that's something that we're going to grow to. And here's the timeline for when that's going to be delivered. So the time and the the resource on the customer side is paramount to everything that we need. When it's a one, it's really, it's really rests on that if we don't get the time and the and the energy and the resources from the team. We can't make this stuff up. Right? It's based on your data. So if we don't have all the information, or you won't give us the information, or the time they get us the information, what good is it at that point? And then everything in between? Right? Of course, there's gonna be some that they have the light information, but they don't know really what it's saying. So the 10s, they have to be able to dedicate those time and resources to get us the data and help us understand what that data means. And then we go off and do what we need to do.

Nicole Donnelly  48:57

Yeah, and it seems like, you've got to create a place of drop the mic. Let's take a moment to drop. Like, let's, let's let John drop the mic. John, how many mic drops that we have this episode?

Curt Anderson  49:09

Oh, no, I'm up. I'm up. I'm up to 13. But I got so I got caught up in a few. So I might have missed some but I was wrong. I'm around. I keep low marks on my notebook. I'm around 13 right now. So

Nicole Donnelly  49:21

we might be making this might be a record John Buckley no could be. I was gonna ask a follow up question to that just around. You know, that requires a lot of vulnerability and humility on the part of the customer to be honest, because you're getting into their like, all the mess. This is like the mess of their business and you have a lot of pride in what they built and how they built it. And so when you have someone coming in and saying and asking for all this information, I can see like, there might be a lot of like, ego hesitation, all of that. Is there anything specifically that you do to help people feel Safe to kind of share, and let let like be vulnerable, because you know, that does take some trust for people to be able to get there, I think. So they can get you the information that you need.

John Buglino  50:13

Yeah, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. Just what it is like you have to do and you have to write and like I said you, if you won't be transparent with us, then we will deliver a subpar solution. And then it's going to come out. And it's gonna be like one of those things where you don't you bottle up like, like anger or fear and then just explodes out of nowhere, and you're just uncontrollable. That's what happens when we don't get everything we need from the customer. And then we deliver a solution, they go, Well, that didn't answer any of the problems. And then we go back to all our notes and say, well, here's everything you gave us. And then it's, then they just lose it. So to your point, we have to understand that, like, we're there for a reason, right? It's like going to a car dealership and going, I'm just gonna use my bike. You know, you're there, you're there. Like, it's, you're bringing us in to solve a problem. How grand The problem is, we've seen the gamut. Like I said, we're 20 years yours, you know, we'll deal with larger customers, like, you're not going to scare us the volumes, the loss, we know, like we already it's just a matter of when are you going to really fully realize it and actually see why you have these problems. Right? So yeah, it's a safe space. Right now, like I said, everything's documented everything is, you know, taking care of and like I said, if they're not open in the beginning, they can't get mad at us at the end when we don't deliver what they wanted. So it has to be a two way street. 

Nicole Donnelly  51:48

At that point. You know, with transparency, you are transparent with them about what you need in order to be successful for them. You start to lay it out and say, Look, we're here to help you be successful. So yep, that's great. Transparency. builds trust.

John Buglino  52:02

Absolutely. That's one. There you go. There's your mic drop.

Nicole Donnelly  52:06

I can't take credit for that. It's from Marcus Sheridan. And he coined that term. I heard it like five years ago. And I swear every day, it's in my brain transparency builds trust. So Marcus, Sheridan, wherever you are, I know you're not listening to this, but you're the master. Go ahead. Curt.

Curt Anderson  52:24

Okay, so we need to start wrapping up here. So John, And bottom line, you know, when it comes down to you know, expectations, communication, what's too much transparency? You know, like, really, you're selling one word, in one word only? You know, it's hope. It's like, you know, why, Damon, we just had this conversation on your live stream last week, right? I'm hoping Why would I? Why would a company let you into their business? Right? It's hope that I'm going to be better than I was yesterday. I'm hoping that you're gonna make my life easier. I'm hoping that I'm going to be more efficient. I'm hoping I'm going to look better to my boss, I'm hoping my company is going to be more profitable. You know, and like Nicole just said, it's all about trust. Because if I don't trust, it's like any relationship could be marriage, friends, your children, what have you. It boils down to communication. 

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