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Thought-Provoking Commentary for the Lawson Software Community
As you know, LawsonGuru.com and Decision Analytics have absolutely no affiliation with Lawson Software. Which makes for a sometimes contentious relationship with Lawson.
Yes, I do “tell it like it is” and occasionally rant about issues that need to be addressed by Lawson, but, as your self-appointed Lawson ombudsman, I feel someone’s got to hold them accountable.
I know a lot about their products and promote their use. I have frequent contact with Lawson’s clients through my consulting practice as well as LawsonGuru.com and the monthly LawsonGuru Letter. You’d think Lawson would understand the value in establishing a formal relationship. Yet, I have very little direct content with Lawson. I can’t get any information directly from Lawson, but only by working through a client. I can’t be certified on their products, nor can I attend a training class. I can’t go to their annual CUE conference. (And yes, I do offer to pay.)
Before you misinterpret this as whining, let me again reiterate that I’m one of Lawson’s biggest supporters. As I explain to numerous people from Lawson, I am an independent consultant; my practice is primarily focused on Lawson. Most of my work is done independently, although I also work for or alongside of Lawson and their partners.
Despite my repeated pleas and urgings, Lawson just fails to realize the value of the independent consulting community. The independents are Lawson’s "grass roots" sales force, out there spreading the word about their latest-and-greatest products. Sure we compete in some ways, but we certainly not out to steal business from Lawson. Believe me, there’s plenty of work for all of us.
Ideally, I’d like to see an ISV-type program from Lawson (much like the partner/consultant arrangements I have with Microsoft, Oracle and IBM),where we can buy and install limited-use software, purchase training, get marketing assistance, etc. Our goal as independents is to stay on top of the latest releases from vendors, and try to stay at least one step ahead of out clients.
Maybe Lawson can learn something from IBM. As an IBM Business Partner, I recently received an email reminding me of why they are successful—because they get it. I just love this part:
As an IBM Business Partner, you are a key player in IBM’s efforts to help our clients transform their business during these challenging economic times. The ideas are limitless. Now is the time for us to join forces and target key opportunities, to help companies around the world grow and profit through technology and business transformation. Your expertise and skills will make the difference.
I was surprised to hear about your not being able to attend CUE or Lawson training, etc.,!! Has anyone ever considered the idea of having a true Lawson user group – – one not controlled/sponsored by Lawson and so with no Lawson strings attached? It’s what other software groups do and would put more control in the hands of the users about what’s covered. I’ve been working with many software companies over my past 25 years in IT and am amazed at the “secret closed society” Lawson seems to be – – – and get away with being!!
Lenny, thanks for commenting. I had toyed with the idea of hosting my own independent user conference, by renting out the QE2 [get it–CUE2 ?!?!] and sailing around off the US coast.
For the most part, the local/regional Lawson users groups have been able to remain relatively independent, and continue embrace non-partner consultants. In exchange, we do quite a few presentations/sessions, sponsor meals/refreshments/events, and give away door prizes, etc. at their meetings. They appreciate objectivity and we appreciate the exposure–it’s a win/win. It’s not as bad as Business Objects, where I they will not even show up or sponsor the meals/refreshments if there is a non-partner on the agenda!
I think the better question is “what does Lawson want to be when it grows up”. IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft are all an order of magnitude larger then Lawson. These Blue-Chip IT companies understand the key to their long-term business success is their customers.
Supporting Lawson systems in the past 10 years, there were many occasions when we needed consulting help. We would always start by asking Lawson for one of their consultants, most of the time, we were told there is a 8~12 weeks wait time before someone is available or there is no such person with the right skill set to help us. We have also turned to Lawson’s ‘brand name” partners. These so-called partner consulting firms such as Deloitte, the former Arthur Andersen, etc. proofed to be costly but ineffective.
Independent consultants have served us well because of their broad knowledge and in-depth know-how. Independent consultants provide tremendous value for Lawson’s customers. Why? Independents HAVE TO be good if they want to survive.
For Lawson to “grow up”, it needs to take a long-term view of its future rather than chasing short-term profits. Allowing your customers to use Lawson certified independents will improve Lawson’s long term business sucess in multiple ways. Here are some examples:
1. Happy customer, no matter how they become happy, makes better references for new customers.
2. An existing customer will be more willing to purchase more modules if they know there is someone to help them.
3. Certified independents can augment Lawson’s own consulting services; perhaps shorten the install to go-live time. The sooner the customer starts to use the software, the better!
4. If Lawson certifies independent consultants, they can also weed out those that are not good, protecting the Lawson brand as a whole.
In addition to IBM, Lawson can learn from many other companies. Feb 19th ‘BusinessWeek, the main story was about customer service, especially in an economic downturn. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_09/b4121026559235.htm
MTFF, thanks for your comments, these are all good points.
I would like to see a real user friendly Lawson knowledgebase.