Celebrating On-Site Champions – A Lesson in Partnerships

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When I’m in project meetings or chatting with our customers, I find myself consistently asking,: “Who is the champion here? Who do we work with and empower?”

Success in software implementation often hinges on the presence of a true champion on the ground. These individuals, with their enthusiasm and commitment, bridge the gap between expertise and real-world dynamics, ensuring projects not only succeed but thrive.

This question is something I often ask as it’s drawn from an experience on one of my first fully fledged software implementations in Maputo, Mozambique.  It was long enough ago that ODBC connections still existed and I remember that landing in Maputo thrust me into a city buzzing with life, where our job was to establish a service desk at a new aluminum smelter. The temporary office we arrived at was based in the city center, surrounded by the everyday energy and occasional chaos of urban life. The local cuisine, especially the Prego rolls and fresh chicken, gave us a taste of Mozambique’s rich culture and community spirit.

It was here I connected with our local contact, a person whose enthusiasm and commitment matched mine.  His method of transporting servers out to the smelter —strapping them into the back seat like VIP passengers for a bumpy tour of Maputo’s most “adventurous” roads—was really about  embracing a ‘MacGyver-style’ ingenuity that set the bar for our project’s can-do spirit.
Dealing with ODBC connections during the late ’90s was a challenge, reminiscent of navigating a complex maze. Yet, working through driver compatibility issues and configuration complexities that crossed multiple domains of expertise taught us the real value of on-site collaboration. Success hinged on our combined commitment and our drive to tackle each problem head-on, a lesson that has stuck with me.
This experience underscored the essential role of on-site champions in bridging the gap between our expertise and the unique dynamics of each organisation. It was a partnership that not only achieved operational success for the service desk but also fostered a sense of ownership and engagement within the team.
Today,  although the software has changed considerably, this lesson remains timeless and influences how I approach new projects. I look for those eager hands raised at the mention of new technology—those are the champions we empower and support. It’s a strategy that goes beyond completing tasks; it’s about building relationships and defining clear responsibilities to ensure collective success.
Our partnership approach isn’t about feel-good rhetoric; it’s a practical, effective strategy for ensuring everyone knows their role and how to succeed together. It’s become a core aspect of our values, emphasizing collaboration and clear communication for successful project delivery.
Have you been an on-site champion, or worked alongside one? I’m keen to hear your stories, as they affirm the vital role these individuals play in our industry’s success.

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