FAQ

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If you can’t find what you’re looking for on this page or you’d like a more detailed response to a service-related question, please use our Become a Client page to send us a note. For more general inquiries, please submit a form using our Contact page.

What kind of company is Meridian?

Meridian is a professional services firm focused on helping progressive leaders and their organizations use data to make better decisions and communicate more effectively. To do this, our team brings together a unique set of capabilities that includes research, analysis, project management, advisory services, executive coaching and group facilitation.

By combining our capabilities with specialized information technologies and data from a variety of sources, our team works with clients to understand their environment, develop strategy and manage performance in new and powerful ways.

Who uses Meridian’s services?

Meridian’s clients are typically senior executives who want to take a rigorous, data-driven approach to specific opportunities or challenges they’re confronting or who want to build a fact-based decision-making and communication culture within their organizations. Whatever their role, we help these executives by improving the quality of intelligence that’s available to them, advising them on its interpretation and providing guidance about how it may be applied.

To learn more about Meridian’s clients and how they use our services, visit our Clients page.

What benefits do organizations receive by working with Meridian?

No matter how clients choose to work with our firm, they benefit in two different—but equally powerful—ways. First, our deliverables provide new fact-based insights into their organizations’ internal and external environments that can inform strategy, guide investments and improve performance. Second, the process itself presents unique, high-quality executive coaching and professional development opportunities for clients’ team members. When it comes to Meridian’s services, the journey is just as valuable as the destination.

Visit our About page to learn more about our approach.

What do you mean by “data-driven” or “fact-based” decision making?

We use the terms “data-driven” and “fact-based” to describe a thoughtful, disciplined decision-making process that uses evidence as the principal basis for understanding a situation, evaluating options and choosing a course of action. Executed well, this type of process helps protect decision makers and their organizations from a variety of cognitive biases that—unrecognized and unmanaged—can distort judgment and lead to unintended outcomes.

More generally, a “data-driven” or “fact-based” decision-making culture refers to a set of shared attitudes, behaviors and expectations that promote rigor in the way an organization uses information to guide investments, plan activities and manage performance. Organizational norms around analytical quality, action orientation, objectivity, transparency, self-awareness and respect for uncertainty all play a role in defining a decision-making culture.

How do we get started with Meridian?

Just send us an email using our Become a Client page or call us at (360) 727-8012 to schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session. During this session, we’ll talk about what you’d like to accomplish for your organization and whether Meridian is the right partner for you.

Great relationships start with great conversations. Even if we’re not the right fit and you don’t become a client, Discovery Sessions are valuable opportunities to discuss your situation and the outcomes you want to achieve with an experienced, knowledgeable adviser who can provide an outside perspective and perhaps offer new suggestions on the best path forward.

What’s the difference between a project and a program?

We use the terms “project,” “program” and “platform” to describe the different ways clients access our expertise and resources and manage their relationship with our firm.

Projects typically involve the production of well-defined deliverables on a specific timeline. While Meridian’s commercial agreements for projects may also provide for some level of close-ended support, projects have a beginning, a middle and an end. Clients often commission a series of related projects as modules within a larger development roadmap in order to manage adoption and spread out costs.

Unlike individual projects, Meridian’s programs provide ongoing research, analytics and advisory support. Deliverables are usually produced at set intervals (monthly or quarterly) as inputs to a client’s key management processes, such as strategic planning, business performance review and board updates. Our firm’s principals act as members of the client’s advisory team over an extended period of time, bringing an objective outsider’s perspective while providing relationship continuity that allows for effective two-way feedback and adjustment.

Why do programs require a 12-month initial agreement?

Programs (Strategic Planning and Performance Review, and Structured Communications) are a way for clients to make Meridian part their extended team and to include their adviser’s input in key management processes without contracting for individual projects. Unlike Meridian’s projects, which have a clearly defined end-point, our programs have an ongoing service component and deliver their full value over time. For this reason, programs require a 12-month initial agreement and client fees are usually paid monthly.

How long does a typical project take to complete?

The timeline of a project depends largely on the client’s level of preparedness and commitment. It is also heavily influenced by the amount of process or systems integration involved and the number of third parties who must provide timely input or support for the project to succeed. That said, most of Meridian’s projects (especially first-time projects) are scoped so that they can be completed within four to six weeks, with interim deliverables produced as soon as two weeks after kickoff.

When clients have larger needs, we often propose that they manage risk and maintain flexibility by undertaking a stream of modular projects that each create standalone value. This allows clients a greater degree of control over the timeline as well as resource commitments.

What exactly are data and analytics platforms?

Platforms are online collections of proprietary, industry-specific data and analytics that clients access on a subscription basis. Organizations also participate actively in client communities through a combination of managed benchmarking exchanges and special events.

What are benchmarking and advisory networks?

Benchmarking and advisory networks are actively managed communities of clients who contribute data, discuss developments and share best practices in areas of mutual interest.

As organizer and manager of these communities, Meridian works closely with network sponsors to define services, set agendas, manage relationships and develop relevant content to anchor member interactions. Depending on the operating charter of each network, membership may be either open or closed and subject to specific terms and conditions.

To inquire about membership in an existing benchmarking and advisory network or about launching a new one, visit our Contact page and send us a note.

How does Meridian use client data?

We want you to know that we take management of your data very seriously, particularly with respect to permitted use and confidentiality. Meridian’s general practices regarding client data are outlined in our Terms of Service and Privacy Statement. In addition, our use of client data may also be governed by project- or program-specific provisions of the firm’s Advisory and Business Services Agreement or by terms and conditions that apply to Meridian’s industry data and analytics platforms and benchmarking networks. If you would like to review our standard agreements or have questions about how we manage client data, we encourage you to submit your inquiry using the form on our Contact page.

What resources must clients provide to support a project or program?

Clients must provide appropriate access to any internal systems and/or data required to support a project or program as well as appropriate access to the executive sponsor and any staff members or third-party service providers whose assistance may be necessary or advantageous.

What kinds of information must clients provide to participate in Meridian’s data sharing platforms and networks?

Meridian’s Industry Data and Analytics Platforms and Benchmarking and Advisory Networks operate under the simple “give-to-get” principle. Each year we communicate with clients to set an agenda for research and analysis, determine the kinds of information we will collect and define the standards for participation. Our goal is always to balance clients’ desire for high-quality market intelligence and comparative management information with their concerns about disclosure of competitively sensitive data.

Prospective clients interested in learning more about the kinds of information we collect and the techniques we use to anonymize data and maintain client confidentiality may submit an inquiry on our Become a Client page.

What types of expenses are not included in Meridian’s project and program fees?

Meridian prices its projects and programs based on a combination of client requirements and estimated delivery costs, including “hard” costs (generally associated with acquisition, management, integration, analysis and presentation of data) and “soft” costs (usually related to client management and advisory support). Any project- or program-related expense beyond the fees described in our Advisory and Business Services Agreement must be approved by clients in advance.

In cases where clients engage our firm to develop a portion of their own management information or business intelligence infrastructure, our fees do not include ongoing, incidental expenses such as specialized software licenses, web hosting and data subscriptions. However, it is our practice to work closely with clients during the earliest design stages of projects and programs so that they understand any ongoing maintenance and operating requirements as well as costs that fall outside the scope of our work.

Do I need to have any special systems in place before I can work with Meridian?

No. Everything starts somewhere. The first step in data-driven decision making and communications is to have some data. If you don’t have the right kinds of information at your disposal, our team will work with you to collect whatever relevant data is available inside and outside your organization and make the best possible use of it. Then we’ll help you create a process for generating and capturing strategically important information in the future.

What happens if we want to make changes to a project or program that’s already in progress?

New priorities emerge, budgets shift and leadership teams are reshuffled. We understand that things can change and—when they do—our goal is to be as responsive as possible. Meridian’s Advisory and Business Services Agreements provide for project or program checkpoints and include change order provisions to accommodate unexpected circumstances.

Checkpoints are “built-in” opportunities for clients to refine or redirect our work within the agreed project or program scope. They typically serve both a quality assurance and decision making purpose. Clients review previously completed work and request any in-scope changes. They also provide any necessary input to the next stage of work. Once clients have signed off on a checkpoint, all previously completed work is “locked down” and any further revisions are subject to change order provisions.

Change orders are formal requests from clients to make modifications that would either require significant rework or expand a project or program beyond the previously agreed scope. Change orders are designed to give clients flexibility and control while providing visibility into the financial and timeline implications of mid-stream modifications.

What technologies does Meridian’s team use to do its work?

Meridian can use a variety of technologies–including specialized hardware, software and integration services–to help clients develop their data resources and apply them for strategic decision making and communication purposes. Depending on the nature of the work, our team chooses mainstream tools from across the functional spectrum of data collection, integration, analysis and presentation. We also design information flows and configure advanced reporting features within many popular end-to-end business solutions for accounting, customer relationship management, e-commerce and so on. When it comes to client-facing technology, our goal is to “meet clients where they are” so that they can focus on what matters most.

Does Meridian work with other third-party providers to deliver projects or programs?

There are three different scenarios that may involve participation of third parties in Meridian’s projects and programs.

Meridian routinely uses certain products and services provided by other technology and information services companies to delivery elements of projects of programs to clients. Whenever our choice of products or services involves ongoing costs or risks to the client, we will outline these within our documentation.

When it comes to projects or programs that benefit from (or actually require) coordinating with other professional services firms retained by our client, Meridian is committed to being a high-performing team player. Whether we’re leading an effort or providing key inputs to a broader initiative, clients can count on us to work effectively with their accountants, auditors, attorneys, marketing specialists and technology services providers. The only requirements we have are that the client abide by the terms and conditions of our Advisory and Business Services Agreement, assign clear responsibility for overall project or program delivery and provide appropriate access to project or program sponsors.

In cases where a project or program requires content expertise or technical skills that we don’t have within our firm (for instance, related to specialized regulatory compliance, applications development or systems integration), it is our practice to discuss the capability gap with the client and offer suggestions for addressing it. In general, the client will then have the option of either funding and managing outside resources directly or placing them within Meridian’s Advisory and Business Services Agreement.

Will Meridian coordinate with my bookkeeper, IT consultant or outside marketing agency?

Yes. Since our work almost always involves the collection and analysis of information from inside and outside a client’s organization, it is common for us to coordinate closely with third-party service providers who store and manage data on their behalf.

Does Meridian offer executive coaching or facilitation?

No. While executive coaching and facilitation are frequently included in the delivery of our research, analytics and advisory services, they are not standalone offerings.