Imagine a simple knife; sharp, finely-honed, feeling just
right in your hand, and perfect for slicing into a sun-ripened
tomato. That’s great if that is all you ever want to do, but if
you also want to slice crusty fresh bread, snip open the cheese
wrapping, debone a piece of fresh salmon and remove the cork
from the wine that will accompany your picnic, your beautiful
knife is not enough.
If your core business is providing a service or product that
you produce, it’s easy to try and force a generic ‘tool’ on your
customers, and no matter how well-designed it may be, that
single tool is unlikely to actually meet complex and nuanced
customer need. And so their expectations are not met.
The situation changes, however, if your knife gets some close
neighbours – a bigger knife, can opener, tweezers, corkscrew
and many more – all tucked away, but ready for action when you
need them. All manner of devices are at hand, each addressing
a specific need, although not all tools are required at all times.
Now imagine that your Swiss Army Knife is your communications
vendor, and the various tools within the device are the products,
processes, solutions, services and technical partnerships that they
provide, as well as the engineering resources to develop new,
customer-specific tools for problems that current offerings can’t
quite meet. Other tools include partner companies and suppliers
– specialist providers whose product and service tools can meet
the most specific requirements.
The first and most important tool that Tait unfolds is
‘conversation’ – open, frank, and honest discussions with your
technical staff, end users and key stakeholders. To understand
precisely what you need from a communications solution, we
“All manner of devices are
at hand, each addressing
a specific need, although
not all tools are required
at all times.”
individual client requirement is specific enough to be measured,
verified, and validated. That means, for example, your test
documentation—plans, procedures, and responsibilities—are all
agreed and understood well before the new solution is provided.
Once the requirements are all agreed, we can then start looking
at the various other tools that we can use to design the best
solution. These tools can include products, solutions, services,
third-party products, even the customisation of existing tools.
The Swiss Army Knife approach means we can provide a perfect,
tailored solution. Our sales engineers and system design
engineers are not limited to a specific tool set, because there are
many other tools just waiting to be unfolded.
must first become very familiar with your current operational
environment, constraints and limitations, and understand what
has driven you to seek a new communication solution.
To develop a complete and comprehensive requirements
specification, we will continue to ask ‘why’ as many times
as necessary, to get a really clear understanding of your
communication challenges and opportunities. Just as the
perfect knife for a ripe tomato will fail to open a bottle of wine,
what good is a solution if it fails to deliver precisely what you
That’s why the next tool to reach for is the ‘agreement’ tool. This
tool reassures both parties that we both completely understand
and agree on what ‘done’ will look like. It is important that each