I have put this in SE-PM as in my eyes, it affects Project Managers the most.
I have just landed a role as a product engineer for a software product in a mid-sized company (around 100 staff across about 6 offices).
After nosing about with the marketing, sales, support, licensing department, developers, implementation teams, I am shocked out how disconnected the whole company is, not only by team, but also by regional office.
For example - I asked for a list of all the people that have our product and no-one could give an accurate answer. To me, that's ridiculous.
Our Sales team will go and sell the product to clients. There will be an invoicing system somewhere, but even their prospective customers do not appear to be centralised.
The implementation team will install the product and store docco (not consistently) on office servers showing the architecture of the install and other key info.
Support team use one system, but never catalog what version of software they have or details about their environment each client has, so have to keep asking the same Qs each time they raise a call.
The license team also gets license requests for the product and these also come into a separate system. Evaluation licenses are also recorded here, but no follow up for Sales to chase them after.
I could go on.
When I ask each of the departments about the need for a centralised document mgmt system they all agree, but of course its someone elses job to implement.
I know our IT team is also messing about with SharePoint and I know we have some client information in SAP as well.
I want to know:
What course of action would you recommend I take to get upper mgmt to see how things could be improved and that this will result in happier clients and a ROI?
Does anyone have any good evidence or backup (perhaps workflow diagrams, or case studies with software like SharePoint) to help strengthen my case?
Please let me know via the comments if you need more info, or if the Q needs re-phrasing.
Edit: Not sure if it's deemed ok to edit my Q so long after asking it. But based on your advice and some further research I have put together a document, highlighting some struggles I have had with gathering key client info, and made some recommendations on how to proceed (meeting with some key people to share notes, internal survey, bring in an expert, etc).
I was wondering if this email sounded ok, aimed at some upper mgmt:
Its early days in my new role as Product Specialist. I have spent much of the first week talking to the different departments and trying to find out some more information about our clients.
In all honesty - it has been quite hard to gather up some key client information - not because of people - but because of how we record information about our clients, and how our systems are setup to pull that information out again. Just as an example, no-one can give me an accurate answer to 'Who are our clients?' - This is critical information that should be easy to retrieve and 100% accurate.
I imagine a lot of time has gone into the design of the current systems, and they seem to work fine otherwise we would not be where we are now. I fear that I may be seen as being too critical too soon - so please bear in mind that I am new to the role, and it might just be that I need to familiarize myself more with these systems.
With that said, I would like you to take a read of the attached document which documents my struggles with answering some basic questions about our clients. - Although I am looking for answers to these Qs, the main point of the document is to provoke some discussion if we should perhaps be looking at improving how we store information about our clients. (i.e. A Customer Relationship Management system).
My main intention here is to make internal workflows more efficient, better internal sharing of information, and as a result of these = happier clients.
I hope I have not overstepped my mark putting this report together – very happy to discuss on the phone.