Management consultants and business intelligence, analytics and big data system integrations often use the terms accelerators, blueprints, solutions, frameworks, and products to show off their industry and business domain (sales, marketing, finance, HR, etc) expertise, experience and specialization. Unfortunately, they often use these terms synonymously, while in pragmatic reality meanings vary quite widely. Here’s our pragmatic take on the tangible reality behind the terms (in the increasing order of comprehensiveness):
- Fameworks. Often little more than a collection of best practices and lessons learned from multiple client engagements. These can sometimes shave off 5%-10% of a project time/effort mainly by enabling buyers to learn from the mistakes others already made and not repeating them.
- Solution Accelerators. Aka Blueprints, these are usually a collection of deliverables, content and other artifacts from prior client engagements. Such artifacts could be in the form of data connectors, transformation logic, data models, metrics, reports and dashboards, but they are often little more than existing deliverables that can be cut/pasted or otherwise leveraged in a new client engagement. Similar to Frameworks, Solution Accelerators often come with a set of best practices. Solution Accelerators can help you hit the ground running and rather than starting from scratch, find yourself 10%-20% into a project.
- Solutions. A step above Solution Accelerators, Solutions prepackage artifacts from prior client engagements, by cleansing and stripping them of proprietary content and/or irrelevant info. Count on shaving 20% to 30% off the effort.
- Productized Solutions. The main difference between Solutions and Productized Solutions is that the latter require a dedicated support team. These are mostly non-client facing resources that are responsible for enhancing and maintaining the solutions. Productized Solutions will get you 30% to 50% into a project.
- Products. Products have an SKU, which you can buy with or without professional services. Just like any product from a software vendor Products have a fully dedicated, non-client facing R&D staff, help desk and a release and upgrade cycle. Similar to any other packaged off-the-shelf apps Products will still require professional services for integration and implementation, so count on saving 50% to 75% of a project effort.
We recommend using the above definitions to separate hype and fiction from reality when evaluating consultants and system integrators responses to your RFIs and RFPs.
As always I welcome suggestions, comments, and constructive criticism.