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Someone once told me that 70% of all technology projects fail. Regardless of whether the statistic is true, it stuck to me like glue. As an engineer I always asked myself what I could have done differently to have made a project more successful, although it seemed the failures had much more effort put into them than the successes. When I joined Acquia as a consultant, I was surprised to see that many organizations were also experiencing the same anomaly.
There are many factors that contribute to the failure of a project, but a common ingredient is the mismanagement of expectations. No matter what technical accomplishments are achieved, they are not viewed as successful because the initial expectations were not met. I have always argued that most projects fail within the first handful of client meetings due to either unintentional misunderstandings or cognizant product misrepresentation that set unreasonable expectations for the team implementing the solution. My experience as a consultant has only strengthened this belief.
One of the reasons I chose to work for Acquia is that our company policy is to do right by the customer. In the spirit of this mantra, we have a small group of pre-sales consultants who provide initial architectural assessments before a project even begins. The result is a customer with a more accurate understanding of what it will take to accomplish their goals with Drupal thus setting expectations accordingly from the onset. Because I feel so strongly about the importance of this position, I have decided to move on from the Professional Services organization so I can focus on the earliest phases of client engagement.
The aspect of the pre-sales consulting I am most excited about is being on the front lines of driving Drupal adoption deeper into the enterprise. Open source is experiencing an increasing number of attacks from proprietary vendors in an effort to scare companies from leveraging platforms like Drupal, but I take a different approach and focus on what Drupal can do as opposed to the shortcomings of our competitors. By being brutally honest about the strengths and weaknesses of Drupal, prospective clients can accurately gauge risk in addition to realizing the flexibility and cost efficiency that a Drupal solution provides.
Our community is maturing at an incredible rate, and technology alone won't get us to the next level. I look forward to the challenges in front of me and hope my contributions will guide successful Drupal projects in new and exciting markets.