Case Studies: Operations Strategy for Software Vendor Management
This engagement was in the software industry and a case study about operations strategy development. The client was a fast growing company providing software to the telecommunications industry. It’s management ranks where thin and they needed a consultant with broad skills and experience to assist the organization in its greatest areas of need, which were marketing, business development and professional services. We worked closely with the Vice-President of Marketing to strengthen the product management processes and deliverables and develop white papers, web content and presentation materials.
As a BD consultant, we worked with the Vice President of Sales and the CEO to support the development of new opportunities in direct sales and channel partnerships; responded to Request for Proposals, wrote boilerplate content and crafted the organization’s Pricing Guide. As a Professional Services consultant, we managed projects, instituted best practice processes, developed a professional services estimation model and provided project oversight and risk management mitigation strategies.
The objective of the engagement was to help the software vendor acquire market share in a highly competitive marketplace, double its revenues year-over-year through the acquisition of new customers and sustained sales to existing customers, while providing a positive, mature and professional image of the company to its customers and prospects.
The CEO’s primary reason for engaging me was to leverage my process-oriented consulting, management and telecommunications experience so that his entrepreneurial and at times, chaotic organization, could move to a more disciplined and scalable growth approach, ensuring efficiencies were harnessed whilst not hampering the creative and enthusiastic energy within the company culture.
Recommendations / Results
In the first 6 weeks of the engagement, we wrote a ‘Situation Analysis’ consulting report which focused on observations and analysis. The report laid out a series of 18 recommendations in the areas of sales strategy, marketing strategy, product management, competitive review, online presence and sales support.
The majority of these recommendations were implemented through my stewardship during my contracted tenure. We conceived, developed, and executed sales operations processes, procedures and tools that provided the means to respond to high volumes (100s) of sales leads and proposals in a timely, accurate and risk conscious manner; responsible for approximately 20 proposal submissions valued at $10 million.
We enhanced program management processes, tools and standards such as project reports, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), delivery methods, charters, project plans, Professional Services estimating models, Statement of Work (SOW) frameworks and boilerplate content, leading to measurable improvements in quality and cost control for the firm. The company achieved sales growth of 500% during my time at the firm, ranking the privately-held organization 8th and 4th in the Profit Hot 50 list in 2005 and 2004 respectively.
Case Study: Architecture Strategy Review for a Utility Company
Client Brief / Problem
Employed by a global consulting firm, this was a technology strategy engagement for a large energy distribution corporation. As a lead consultant, we led a team in creating and presenting a Future Network Architecture Guidebook.
The objective of the engagement was to:
- Understand the current state of Utility’s network architecture in the areas of Governance, Network Enhancements, Network Based Services, Security and Service Tools
- Compare the current state to the future state of the technology, associated standards & best practices models
- Develop findings and recommendations that aligned to the resultant future technologies and the corporation’s business strategy and drivers
Recommendations / Results
An interim report presented the results of the current state analysis, which identified the following major issues that needed to be dealt with:
Overall governance and its implementation to achieve the following:
- Formalize standards of target technologies and architecture
- Introduction/decommissioning processes
- On-going management
- Formalize define, document and monitor services levels for services including performance and availability, Capacity planning for all network related infrastructure,
Network architecture optimization in the following areas:
- Contact centre traffic
- WAN bandwidth based on application requirements
- Utilization of fiber where applicable
The Final Report entitled ‘Utility Future Network Architecture Guidebook’ was submitted and presented to the client. Along with the Guidebook, a network capacity planning tool that was configured and tailored to client needs to assist in planning and forecasting network bandwidth requirements.
The guidebook provided strategic recommendations for the evolution of client technology. A series of initiatives were suggested that would form the basis for a 3 year improvement program. Prioritization was applied to the initiatives, in which the following items were deemed to be the next steps:
1. Network Enhancements Transition
- Bandwidth Model – Site Application Detailed Analysis
- Resolve Core Network Bandwidth Open Issues
- Apply Model criteria
- Prioritization of sites based on needs & savings
Develop a high-level Execution Plan
2. Creation of Cost Models
3. Negotiation with telecom service providers to align to new service demands and needs
4. Implement and leverage Architecture Governance recommendations
5. Planning network initiatives for next fiscal year
Subsequent to the recommendations, the utility initiated a program to successfully implement them, providing a foundation for bandwidth intensive business applications and a flexible architecture to meet long-term requirements.
Case Study: Multimedia Customer Interaction Center (MMCIC)
Client Brief / Problem
The MMCIC project was one of three projects created under a Consulting Firm / Vendor alliance program. The rationale for the alliance was to combine the Consulting Firm e-Commerce expertise and vendor networking technology to create differentiated solutions to jointly target emerging Contact Center opportunities.
This project required the creation of a business case and the development and deployment of the solution. In the business case stage, our role was that of a Solutions Architect for the network solutions team, contributing in formulation and planning of a solution set definition and business case. Other teams in the project include Strategy, Customer Care and E-Commerce. All teams work in unison in developing the business case financials, benefits, risks and project planning.
In the deployment stage, we were designated the project’s Lead Architect. In this role, we lead four (4) design teams: Infrastructure, Call Center applications, Web applications and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Responsibilities included setting architectural guidelines, writing the marketing services descriptions, approving all design and test document deliverables, being an active member of the vendor selection team, providing project management leadership and responsibilities for technical content creation of marketing and training materials as well as delivering seminars and presentations to key stakeholders.
Recommendations / Results
This project’s objective was to identify and develop solutions for the call center marketplace that would web-enable customer service departments for small to medium sized organizations around the world, using 3Com technology and professional services.
The business plan projected that a capital investment of $US12 million dollars would provide an 18 month ROI of 92% from solution launch date. Three solutions were identified within the scope of the engagement. The first of these solutions, called IP Contact, was a new, turnkey efficient system capable of managing customer telephone calls, and harnessing the benefits of IP convergent technologies and Computer Technology Integration (CTI) services within a Contact center.
The second solution, called Web Contact, expanded upon the IP Contact solution by introducing Web-enabled customer interactions using the Internet as a new medium of communication. This package not only provided for the creation of a Customer Service web interface, but also provided other channels of service such as text chat and web collaboration.
The third solution, called Ultimate Contact, enhanced the Web Contact by offering complete Internet and CRM functionality. The offer provided integration of the Internet as a sales and service platform into an organization’s traditional sales and distribution channels. The solution also provided innovative software that revealed patterns of visitor behavior, and e-Business expertise that helped companies act on those patterns to become more profitable.
These three solutions were targeted for launch within 12 months from start of the engagement. The solutions were launched within the timeline and budget of the project, successfully tested in various labs across North America and Europe and sold to satisfied customers.