The bank holiday weekend gave me opportunity to read Steve McConnell’s book ‘Rapid Development’. One area that caught my attention was the phase of a development project which he describes as the Fuzzy Front End. In essence, if you consider the life of a project as extending from a glimmer in someone’s eye right through to live, the Fuzzy Front End is the part from the glimmer to the official commencement of the project itself. The point Steve makes, is that this part of the project can take a significant amount of time primarily because of a lack of perceived urgency, or assigned responsibility.

Steve’s observations resonate with what we see on a day to day basis with CRM deployments. Most spend the vast majority of their life meandering through the pre-commitment phases, but are suddenly plunged into a sprint for the line when the project gets sanctioned. While there are plenty of pitfalls and precautions to consider in order to keep a project on schedule and on budget once the implementation gets underway, the simplest way to reduce the time to deployment is to cut back the Fuzzy Front End. Reductions in time to deployment can in turn result in an accelerated return on investment and significant competitive advantage.

Though we might not have described it this way prior to reading Steve’s book, several of our service offerings are built around truncating the Fuzzy Front End. In particular our CRM planning services, where we move a customer swiftly through the preparatory stages of business case development, budgeting and identifying appropriate technologies and vendors, can add momentum and focus to a project. For many of our clients, particularly those up against larger and less agile competitors, speed is a key weapon.

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