Aspirational vs. Operational

The first step in every consulting project I’ve been involved with starts with is defining the needs and the goals of the project. The needs are typically the business objectives the client hope to achieve. For my clients who are retailers these are a few objectives that are common:
– Upgrade in technology
– Software to better manage their retail business
– Ease of use
– Ability to access and customize data
– Capability to connect digitally with my customers
– Support the BOPIS process allowing customers to buy on line-pick up in store
– Computed aided purchasing
– Mobile shopping features
– Affordability
From these general objectives which are aspirational the next step is to provide potential vendors with a document that details the functionality and features their systems needs to support these objectives. From a consulting perspective it’s necessary to determine how your client defines these aspirational objectives. These are the guideposts that they will judge the success or failure of the project in the long term. My job is to bring in vendors whose systems have the features and functions to meet those objectives.
The most successful outcomes for projects is blending both the aspirational and operational objectives and finding a solution that supports all the functions and features needed and is forward looking to meet the ever changing retail landscape.