Businesses, Just Turn It On. Go with My Favorite Persona — Turn-Key

Andrew Karpie

Along with the other analysts at Spend Matters, I've been grappling with this question: What is my favorite SolutionMap persona? Within our current set of  buyer personas (Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator and CIO Friendly, along with Optimizer for sourcing providers and Global for CW/S vendors, I wanted to find and adopt a persona that could be misunderstood, scoffed at and wrongly shunned by organizations that might think it beneath them.

My esteemed colleagues Jason Busch and Pierre Mitchell, respectively, went with the Deep persona and the Configurator persona. But I’m going with the modest Turn-Key persona, and here’s why.

turn-key Persona
My organization: Outcome-focused; TCO approach to implementations; Often risk-averse and skeptical based on previous experiences
We Need: A combination of software capability and supporting services to contractually deliver results and a defensible ROI; Pre-loaded capabilities, content, and know-how

When considering a technology solution, businesses trying to maximize their objective functions almost always face trade-offs among different factors, including costs, capability, speed and risk. Businesses face varying levels of constraints on those trade-off variables and experience varying degrees of freedom.  In some ways, their core problems may be similar, but their feasible solution spaces are very different (for example, constraints on  cost, time-to-value, or deployment risk may narrow the solution choices). 

Businesses that feel the pinch, in terms of resources, time and risk tolerance, must look very carefully at the solution capabilities of given providers, subject to their business’ tight and immoveable constraints on cost, time and risk. As satisfiers, they must ask (perhaps using an 80/20 or even a 60/40 rule) if a solution not only gets them what they need (and perhaps some of what they want), but also if it will do so predictably based on a series of nearly identical trials (i.e., the provider has a history of successful implementations).

While efficiency may be the most significant value proposition of a true Turn-Key solution, predictability is at least a close second.

Of the objective functions associated with all the other SolutionMap buyer personas, Turn-Key’s is the most stable. What you see is what you get, and the buyer mainly must make sure he/she can tick off all or nearly all of the core business requirements. The solution provider’s track record supplies the rest.

The Turn-Key persona is likely to correspond to mid-sized businesses which lie within the 50th percentile of spend volume and and which are often very focused on a relatively narrow set of specific products/services, well-defined target market segments, speed to market, low-mid double-digit growth rates and, last but not least, predictable cashflows and sustainable profits. Businesses that are represented by the Turn-Key persona are typically not sprawling, complex mega-businesses, nor are they relatively young high-growth companies.

What I admire most about Turn-Key is its realism. It knows it has a spend management problem that requires a solution. But it is also realistic about the organization’s resource constraints and ingrained aversion to wasted time and the risk of financial losses and operational disruptions. It knows the problem must be addressed, but in the simplest, most straight-forward manner. It understands what it is needs and what it doesn’t. It is not willing to invest in non-core capabilities or “futures.” Nor is it willing to  risk a potential run-away deployment. At the same time, it is not willing to accept a solution that does not address all or nearly core capabilities out of the box.

The Turn-Key persona is cognizant of what might not be the lowest possible lifecycle direct costs of a turn-key solution, but it also is very aware of the additional costs of externalities and the swampy costs that can arise from unexpected turns as the solution is implemented. The Turn-Key organization is mostly concerned about the next 6 to 8 quarters of solid growth and profitability and understands that non-strategic solutions should be seen, not heard.

The Turn-Key persona is the realist, “the responsible one,” grounded in reality. Its motto might be: Do the business today that you might not do tomorrow.

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