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Q&A with Chad McDonald, Director of Professional Services at Imperva

Q&A with Chad McDonald, Director of Professional Services at Imperva

For this blog entry, I want to discuss something new from one of my favorite parts of the Imperva organization, our Professional Services Team.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of our customers on a variety of exciting projects, many of which happened during my tenure on the PS Team.  Although every engagement was different, there were some similarities that I’ve noticed over the years, particularly when it comes to customer readiness. Some customers dotted every ‘I’ and crossed every ‘t’, but some customers preferred a non-formal, shoot-from-the-hip approach.  Regardless of which approach an organization follows, there are some things that can be done to ensure the engagement is successful, reduces risks, and makes the most economical use of the consultants time.
One of my esteemed colleagues, Chad McDonald, is the Director of Professional Services-Strategic Accounts, and has mastered the art of prepping customers for engagements. Over the years, he’s collected this information and formalized a program that allows customers take advantage of this wisdom and knowledge.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chad, the content of our conversation is below.

  • What is the Customer Readiness toolkit?

The Customer Readiness toolkit is a product specific Excel Workbook that provides a unified document to track all relevant information for a Professional Services engagement.  The toolkit gathers information such as business drivers for the project, network information, stakeholder information, and logistics information.  Having all of this information ready at or prior to the start of the engagement ensures that our Consultants can move efficiently through the project.  This also helps to ensure that the customer is getting maximum return on his consulting dollar.

  • Do customers have access to it or is it an internal tool?

All sales teams have the various toolkits and are encouraged to share it with customers as Services becomes a relevant part of the discussion.

  • What’s the advantage of leveraging the toolkit for Professional Services engagements?

The bottom line is that the readiness kit helps our customers get well prepared for an Imperva Professional Services engagement.  Prior to the toolkit we had a number of engagements in which the customer did not have some resource or information that was critical to our ability to move the project forward.  Professional Services has since become more proactive in our readiness efforts.  Consulting dollars are hard to come by for most customers.  We want to make sure that they get the most value for their dollar and ultimately that SecureSphere helps the customer to achieve their security or regulatory goals.

  • What are some of the things you look for in the toolkit? How does it work?

Beyond all of the network information, I look for completeness.  A customer that has taken the time to work through the entire kit, has thought through all of the issues that can delay or derail a project.  Ideally, I prefer to have an opportunity to review the toolkit prior to the engagement so that I can clear up any questions before we start the project.

  • What information can a customer put together to help you prepare for their Services engagement?

The customer should understand why they want SecureSphere and be able to articulate their reasoning clearly.  I want to see that network addresses have been allocated and hostnames are defined.  I prefer that we have firewall and any relevant switch configurations already addressed.  Life is easier when we already understand the relevant regulatory, security or business drivers for the project.  Sometimes storage space for archives and backups is a long lead item.  When these are pre-allocated, a lot of delay can be eliminated.

  • What advice can you give to customers preparing for their Services engagement?

Plan, plan, plan.  I’m a big advocate of planning.  Regardless of whether you’re a small business or a Fortune 50 organization, planning is going to make your project more successful.  Above all else, a customer should have a very clear picture of what they want to accomplish with SecureSphere.  If there isn’t a clear picture of the target we should aim for, we’re going to have some challenges hitting the mark.

  • Are there any major pitfalls that customers should be aware of?

I wouldn’t say that there are exactly pitfalls.  There are things that we frequently see that slow down a project.  Network information such as IP addresses, certificates, missing firewall rules or switch configurations can certainly slow down a project though.  Ultimately, Imperva Professional Services can move as fast as a customer allows.  The more prepared the customer is for the project, the more efficiently we operate.
Customers looking to leverage the Professional Services Customer Readiness Toolkit can start by contacting their Salesperson or Security Engineer, or by contacting