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Old Blog :S

I know it’s been a while, but work is very good at getting in the way of blogging.

I’ve just finished the first major sales presentation of the past few months (well, just finished a few beers after the pitch…[ok, actually this happened last week but I’ve been equally busy this week]) and it’s a really good feeling to be done. I’ve spent the last few weeks working on a Proof of Concept, creating a demo for PerformancePoint Server which I showed today. It was to an insurance company who will be doing some financial and commercial planning with our software. It’s the first time I’ve really used the software ‘in anger’ – against a real-world problem rather than test data – and I have generally been impressed with it. More technical details are to follow, for now I’m going to talk about my experience…

It’s the first time I’ve really been let loose with my own ‘project’ and although I’m not responsible for closing the sale itself I feel like I’ve been able to see my part of the sales process through to the end. That’s really important to someone in my position, i.e. fairly new to this, as I feel like I’ve had an impact. Words of advice to any future managers: give your new charges a big challenge, and let them see it through to the end. Getting broad experience is good but the sense of completion after something like this is ace. (Also, managers, be prepared to support them if they need it, I had a number of offers of help which, although I didn’t take them all, were a good safety net).

The guys from my team that have been involved have been really great here. We spent the first week of the PoC getting to understand this insurance company’s data, and had some fantastic help from Paulo to do so. Paulo, Andrew and myself then had to learn exactly how PerformancePoint coped with being screwed around with to fit the (Excel-based) models that the company currently uses.

This time last week, I was getting ready to go to Munich for a week’s training and I knew I had to leave Paulo to finish one of the models without me. I had confidence that he’d be able to do it, but I had to pick up his work this morning and learn the changes he’d made while I was away, ready to present it this afternoon. Not so easy. Apparently it’s called an ‘exploratory demo’… <Click> "Ah yes, now this shows blah blah".

But it went well. Really well. The audience was really tough, not because they had difficult questions but because they gave absolutely no reaction whatsoever. I had been prepped to expect a thorough grilling so when no-one jumped in with questions I was pretty surprised… However, our advocate there gave me a great review in our debrief and even used the word ‘perfect’ 🙂 Doesn’t mean they’ll buy the stuff but it’s over to the sales folk to close out now…

<Wednesday morning>

Just on the way back to this customer for our executive presentation. It’s scary to be going up in front of CxO-level people (the last time I did this was January 12th – the Friday of my first week…) but it’ll be the same presentation as Monday so looking forward to it. Blog-based debrief to follow.

OK, that wasn’t so bad 🙂 We’d been warned that this COO was a bit of a wild one, and I was expecting lots of curve-ball questions, going off piste a lot etc. And she did provide a couple, but nothing the 3 of us from MS couldn’t manage. Still, glad I wasn’t on my own…

All in all, this has been a manic 4 weeks. I’m not sure if I’ve learnt more about PPS, doing Proof of Concepts or (dare I say it) myself (ha)… Either way, it’s been incredibly good experience and, tho rather stressful at times (panic set in when only 1/3 of it was complete, there was a week left and I was going to Munich for 4 days), I have enjoyed myself.

[Edit: 13th Dec]
Just found out that we’ve won the bid, I finally get some revenue against my name 😀

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