Posted tagged ‘PSA’

Five Service Technology Things I’m Thankful for This Year

November 24, 2014

Here we are at the holiday season once again. When I was a kid, it seemed that Thanksgiving and Christmas were always a million miles away, but as I get older, time accelerates, and it feels like I just put the tree and decorations away a few weeks ago. This week we all take some time to think about what we are thankful for, and I truly give thanks for my personal and professional existence. But I thought it would be fun to write a post about what I’m thankful for this year as a service technology analyst. Here goes!

  • I’m thankful for new KM insights. This was the first year that I conducted TSIA’s knowledge management survey, and instead of focusing just on metrics like days to publish, I dug into KM potential, culture issues, adoption of emerging technologies, and the “rip and replace” problem. The data was very impactful, and has really informed my research and conversations. Though I cover a lot of technology topics as an analyst, I’m the most passionate about knowledge management tools and processes. It is great to have data-backed talking points about where companies struggle and pacesetter practices for success.
  • I’m thankful for rising PSA adoption and interest. The first few years I was the technology analyst for TSIA’s new professional services practice, it was the easiest job in the world–no one asked me about anything. Boy, has that changed. Today Professional Services Automation (PSA) is my #2 or #3 topic by inquiry volume. I’m seeing PS organizations become more sophisticated in their use of technology, including automated scheduling, analytic-powered dashboards, and automated billing, and core PS metrics like utilization rates and billable utilization are rising as a result.
  • I’m thankful for managed services. In my industry it seems almost politically incorrect to say anything negative about the cloud. But I hear from large enterprises every week who jumped on the cloud bandwagon, usually to save money on a CRM deployment, and are finding the tools are not as sophisticated or feature rich as their legacy solution, and often with abysmal usability. Managed services is rescuing this, offering the sophistication of onpremise technology with none of the ownership headaches or cost. According to George Humphrey, TSIA’s Senior Director of Managed Service Research, “It’s becoming less important to the customer where the product resides. It is becoming crucial to the customer that, whoever sells them the solution, that it is managed. It doesn’t matter if the technology provider is an SI, SP, VAR or the manufacturer selling direct. The expectation from the customer is that it is a fully managed OpEx solutions. The MSPs that are offering this type of solution are seeing explosive revenue growth in MS (many seeing triple digit growth).” For 2015, I expect to see some unhappy cloud customers moving to a managed service platform that better fits their needs.
  • I’m thankful mobility has moved beyond trend into serious business impact. Back in my CRM days, I was the product manager for a WAP CRM product, which I don’t think anyone ever used. The WAP interfaces were so klunky they really didn’t offer huge value for field employees. Early in my Forrester career I wrote a research report about mobile CRM, calling it, “The Next Big Thing That Hasn’t Happened Yet,” because all the vendors were releasing WAP products but no one seemed to be adopting them. The latest round of mobile solutions are a huge improvement, and as a result, we are seeing wide adoption and real business benefits. Here’s a chart with some data from our Field Service benchmark survey, which asks field service organizations what sort of business impacts they have seen from mobile initiatives. The value is clear and documentable, and I’m thrilled to see this “next big thing” is finally having the impact we all envisioned over a decade ago.

FS Mobility

  • I’m thankful NPS is losing some luster. I’ve gotten in trouble over the years because I have never been a fan of net promoter scores. I totally understand the importance of repeat business and referrals, but too many companies asked the “would you recommend us” question once a year, of one person at the account, which in my opinion is a totally useless way to gather real information on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Let’s be honest–many NPS programs are only designed to allow executive bonuses to pay out–not to really measure customer sentiment. Over the last 6 months I’ve heard many companies talk about how shallow their NPS program was, in retrospect. The new focus on customer consumption, customer experience, and now customer effort scores seem to be measuring much more actionable information than a single NPS score.

Wishing each of you a wonderful holiday season. And as always, thanks for reading!


Changepoint Acquires Daptiv, Adding Cloud PPM and PSA to OnPremise and Hosted Portfolio

August 21, 2014

Today Changepoint announced their acquisition of Daptiv, adding pure cloud solutions for professional services automation (PSA) and project portfolio management (PPM) to the Changepoint portfolio of OnPremise and hosted products. Changepoint, a long time TSIA partner and advisory board member, has been the top installed PSA platform for the last two years, according to my annual Global Technology Survey, and this acquisition will give them even more reach into PS, IT and development organizations wanting a SaaS solution.

PSA has three main modules: resource management, project management, and project accounting, and is used by professional services teams to automate the staffing of projects to maximize utilization rates, as well as providing dashboards so managers can track project status, costs and margins, identifying problems early enough to step in and correct the problem before the customer or project is impacted. PPM offers similar capabilities for IT and development project teams, matching skills and experience to projects, tracking project milestones and deliverables, as well as total costs for internal projects.

Changepoint’s PSA offering, available in OnPremise or Hosted options, is ideal for large organizations needing sophisticated capabilities. I’ve praised them in the past for their innovative approach to analytics, imbedding IBM Cognos into a release last year to deliver real-time management dashboards. However, with IT departments being downsized, more companies want at least one pure SaaS provider on the short list when evaluating PSA vendors, and Daptiv gives Changepoint a competitive edge, since they now can compete in deals for any deployment model.

Daptiv has been receiving good reviews for their technology, including a strong position in the Leader quadrant in the 2014 Cloud PPM Magic Quadrant from Gartner. Gartner even notes that Daptiv has been moving upmarket, with their average deal size now more than 200 seats, meaning they are competing with traditional players for large enterprise deals. Interesting, Daptiv has also imbedded IBM Cognos into their application for sophisticated analytics and dashboards, which provides a nice consistency across the Daptiv and Changepoint product lines.

Congratulations to the Changepoint and Daptiv teams on the deal! And as always, thanks to you for reading!



2014 TechFUTURES: What will Service operations look like in 2019?

May 5, 2014

Today I have the pleasure of opening Technology Services World with our TechFUTURES event, kicking off at 11am. TechFUTURES takes us forward in time five years, to the year 2019, for a look at the state of the industry with special focus on the impact of services technology. TSIA TechFUTURES focuses on three topics identified as primary change agents within the industry. The three topics are:

  • Analytics. “Big data” is not only a buzz phrase, it provides a solution to the explosion of enterprise data: harnessing the power of analytics to glean critical information from multiple, real-time streams of content. As an example, professional services organizations have historically run their operations using spreadsheets, only to find out at the end of the project that major milestones were missed, the project ran over budget, and customers are not satisfied with the outcome and are pushing back on payment. Today, we are beginning to see real-time dashboards that can pinpoint projects in trouble immediately, giving supervisors the opportunity to resolve problems and put the project back on course. With increased sophistication coming to analytics every year, what will big data look like in 2019? How will proactive dashboards evolve over the next five years?
  • Collaboration. There are many drivers behind the growing budgets for enterprise collaboration tools by technology suppliers. Younger demographics entering the workforce prefer to share ideas and collaborate on problems. Mobile devices provide mechanisms to ask questions of peers from any location, on any device. The rise of expertise management is making it easier to identify the expert on any subject—or any line of code. The growing number of remote workers means collaboration can’t happen over cubicle walls—enterprise collaboration tools are required. Looking ahead to 2019, with collaboration becoming the default communication mechanism for employees, how will this change the way we work? Looking beyond just employees, what is the role of partners and customers in collaboration?
  • Service Channels. The way we interact with customers has seen dramatic changes over the last decade. The shift from call centers to contact centers was forced by customers rapidly adopting emerging channels. First was email, offering a way for customers to thoughtfully describe problems without a phone call. Next was self-service, then chat, and today, rising adoption of social media channels means technology firms are interacting with customers via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more. Looking ahead to 2019, what will be the dominate interaction channels for customers? With the Internet of Things allowing every device in your home and office to be online and interconnected, how can we further streamline and automate technology support to leverage the new always-connected customer?

TSIA has identified three technology partners to paint a vision of the future state of services, focusing on the topics defined above. The presentations will take us forward to 2019, and focus on “a day in the life” of Bob, a highly social, collaborative, connected, and data-savvy customer, as well as June, a high-tech support executive, responsible for consolidated service operations. How will the combined forces of analytics, collaboration, and evolving service channels impact June’s people, processes, and technology, and what new challenges can we expect from our future customer, Bob?

  • Changepoint: Analytics 3.0 (Data + Analytics) = Business Opportunities. Analytics 3.0 is the heart of the next phase of global transformation—it’s where big data and analytics join forces with strategic operational and decision processes to create new accelerated opportunities and revenue streams for businesses, giving rise to the Data-Driven Economy. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Changepoint futurist Larry Kading takes you on a journey about how all organizations—not just the large online pioneers—can compete in the Data-Driven Economy. However, while new business opportunities and revenue streams abound as a result of this global transformation, they only exist for organizations that understand how to get there. Larry will share the secrets of how June can exploit the opportunity with game-changing, analytics-based products and services. Control the data or it may control you.
  • Jive Software: Collaboration. The human brain is as powerful as 300 supercomputers, but excels at a certain kind of intelligence: creativity, innovation, and intuition. It is limited by its isolation and access to information, and because of its limitations, we have all adapted our behavior to machines much better at crunching numbers. Today, we are starting to carry devices more powerful than the original supercomputers with us all of the time that are always connected: the laptop, the tablet, the smartphone, smart watches, Fitbits, and wearable HUDs. In the next five years, the time may come when all of us will complement our own intelligence with hundreds of tiny, connected supercomputers that are able to instantaneously perform staggering analytics, expanding our concept of collaboration by presenting us with the right information, conversation, or access to expertise in the moment that we need it. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Chris Morace, Jive’s chief strategy officer and New York Times best-selling author, explores how much better it will be to work together in 2019. Find out what work will be like when we are empowered by powerful technology, and not tethered to it.
  • Service Channels., Inc. is a leading provider of cloud-based services and software that enable technology support for a connected world. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Amy Millard will discuss how the Internet of Things will continue to create new opportunities and challenges. We live in a world where our devices monitor, track, and connect the physical world, and this will only increase in the years to come. As device interconnectivity begins to touch every phase of our lives in both the business and consumer worlds, the stakes rise higher and higher for a seamless customer experience. Amy will share how tech support teams can rise to meet these challenges.

Please join us for this fun event to get your TSIA experience off to a great start. And as always, thanks for reading!

Recapping 2013: Hottest Service Technology Trends

November 27, 2013

Is it too early to start recaps for 2013? With the end of the year barely over a month away, I’ve been thinking about what I heard this year that was new and interesting, and trying to put these trends/innovations into useful categories. Based on my member inquiries and partner briefings, here’s a stab at the hottest topics to emerge in service technology over the last year:

Large enterprises embrace cloud applications. Small and medium-sized businesses were early adopters of cloud applications, and as many OnDemand suites are much less sophisticated than their OnPremise counterparts, the lighter-weight tools met the needs of SMBs just fine. But this year I’ve talked to service executives of some the largest tech companies in North America and Europe who were in the midst of a migration from a legacy CRM system to a lower cost cloud suite. As I’ve written about before, large companies moving to cloud tools have to streamline and consolidate processes as the applications don’t support heavy customization. Unfortunately, about 3 months after the move to the cloud, I start getting calls asking about functional gaps they did not anticipate. Your cloud CRM tools probably do not include support for complex entitlement, automating renewals, or knowledge management beyond a list of solutions. With the move to the cloud all but inevitable, there is some heavy lifting that must be done to achieve extreme efficiency with the new technologies.

Knowledge management evolves beyond support. I first published a report back in 2009 about knowledge management being a cross-discipline (support services, field service, education services, professional services, managed services) subject, with convergence needed to leverage existing tools and processes across the enterprise. But it wasn’t until this year that I started receiving numerous KM inquiries outside of support. PS asking for best practices to capture and share lessons learned across project teams. Field service wanting to know how to best leverage mobile tools to access corporate knowledge from the field. Education services interested in how to define KM roles, as demand shifts from teacher to librarian. And, as I heard at our recent Las Vegas conference, support may have their KM practices well-defined, but other groups see support’s approach too slow,  too complicated and too focused on experts instead of collaboration. I think what we consider “KM best practices” is going to radically shift, and I also expect to see more Knowledge as a Service (which I’m going to call KaaS) providers entering the market. Too many companies have re-implemented KM tools and jump-started KM practices every 3-4 years for the last 12 years, maybe it is time to try a new approach?

Professional Services Automation (PSA) is the new MUST HAVE application category. I’ve always joked that professional services teams were too busy implementing technology for their customers to ever use any for themselves. PSA, which includes modules for resource management, project management and project accounting, is still not that highly adopted (according to my 2013 Member Technology Survey, 58% of PS members are using PSA). But, spending is on the rise, with over half of PS members (54%) having budget for new or additional PSA in 2013-2014. And as a proof point, my inquiries on PSA have risen to become my third hottest topic, after CRM and KM. I just published a new report, Five Key Criteria in Making a PSA Decision, based on dozens of these conversations over the last year. If you are still managing your PS operation using spreadsheets, now’s the time to make a change.

Video in Service: Here to stay. A couple of years ago I gave a conference presentation about the future of video in service, and received more than a few snarky comments saying it would never happen. Never mind that even then, was using video chat tools with premiere customers, and the use cases for incorporating video into trouble shooting were many and varied. But video in service suddenly became a very hot topic recently when Amazon released the Kindle Fire HDX, and featured a video chat option, called the “Mayday button“, in print and TV advertising. The ads show a customer linking to a live video chat agent for help, with the agent able to take control of your device and even write on the tablet to illustrate how to do something.  Remote control of mobile devices isn’t new (checkout LogMeIn and Bomgar), but seeing it used along with video chat introduced a whole new user experience. That one commercial is going to convince consumers this is an option they need, so get ready for your closeup, Mr. DeMille.

“Core” is shrinking fast. I’ve written before about how service is constantly re-evaluating core verses context, realizing that less and less of corporate operations really are key to their success. Even outsourcing technical support was a bitter bill for many B2B companies to swallow, though I’ve talked to many who now realize they should have looked to partners for assistance a decade ago. But over the last year, with more companies trying to boost revenues and cut costs in the face of all the realities described in B4B, I’m seeing more and more options on the table for outsourcing. First it was technical support level 1, then level 2/3, field service, and now maintenance renewals, managed services, social media, online community management–there are no more sacred cows. As I alluded to earlier, I’m predicting 2014 is the year Knowledge as a Service emerges as a viable approach for more companies.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be thinking about how these hot topics will drive trends for 2014, and you can expect to see some of these ideas again when I publish my “state of the industry” reports in Q1. Stay tuned. And as always, thanks for reading!

Compuware Changepoint 2012 Release: Usability, Embedded Analytics, Doc Management, Mobility

March 27, 2013

I attend a lot of vendor briefings, usually an annual update or to hear what’s new in the latest release. Last week I had an opportunity to catch up with Lori Ellsworth, SVP & General Manager for Compuware Changepoint, a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution which is one of the top installed PSA products by TSIA members, and one of my top recommended solutions for large enterprises. Lori gave me an overview of the Changepoint 2012 release, and there was so much to love I decided it was definitely blog worthy.

In my 2012 Member Technology Survey, 54% of PS members had budget for new or additional PSA technology in 2012-2013, and the early results from my 2013 survey (open until 3/31) show similar results. Companies are getting serious about moving off spreadsheets and enforcing processes for PS that bridge the gap between CRM and ERP. According to our benchmark data, companies that have adopted a PSA solution have improved metrics in many areas, including hot metrics like utilization rates and rate realization.

With this as a backdrop, the Compuware Changepoint 2012 release has a lot of differentiating features, including:

  • UI overhaul. The new version of Changepoint has more of a web 2.0 look and feel, including support for a wide range of browsers. The app looks better, the user controls are updated and intuitive, and they also make great use of browser space to minimize scrolling.
  • Mobility. Making use of technologies like HTML5, Changepoint now offers mobile device support for a wide array of devices, including features for time and expense tracking on smartphones, and real-time management dashboards available on tablet devices.
  • Offline capabilities. We like to pretend that staying connected 24/7 is easy, but the truth is that life is filled with pockets with no cell reception (like my neighborhood), and places where connectivity isn’t allowed (hospitals, airplanes). Compuware Changepoint has been brave (if you’ve ever helped develop an offline synching application you’ll know what I mean–it ain’t easy) and introduced offline capabilities on the laptop using an Excel based expense template, with a typical use case that a PS consultant can enter their expenses offline while flying home from a project, and the expense report can be uploaded as soon as they reconnect.
  • Embedded analytics. Last year I published a report about how service organizations were leveraging big data, and what I found is that few service organizations have a standalone BI tool, or the expertise to use it. The companies getting the most value from analytics have adopted platforms with “best of breed” analytics embedded in the platform. This is the route Compuware has taken, embedding IBM Business Analytics (Cognos) into the  Changepoint 2012 release. The release includes a library of real-time dashboards, and that library will continue to grow with each new release. With business user-targeted controls, PS groups can now start doing real analytics–no data scientist involved.

  • Document generation. Another OEM partner included in the Changepoint 2012 release is Intelledox, providing smart forms and automated generation of business documents and reports. Using a wizard-like interface which prompts you for needed data, Intelledox shortcuts the creation of statements of work, complex project bids, etc., increasing accuracy and saving hours of time per report. The rumors I’ve heard from the field is that existing customers can’t wait to get their hands on this integration.
  • eLearning. Compuware Changepoint has developed a library of training courses–all designed to be consumed in 5 minutes or less–to help new users get up to speed quickly. As an example, there are 40 lessons alone for working with the project worksheet. Contextual help is also available, linked to every part of the application, including an option to personalize the online help and eLearning  to contain company specific information.

I thought I would share Lori’s responses to some of my questions:

John Ragsdale: When I look at a PSA platform with as much sophistication as Compuware Changepoint offers, I’m surprised that so many companies–including many large ones–have yet to adopt PSA. But with high planned spending, luckily this is changing. Among your customers and prospects, what do you see as the catalyst that forces them to finally move to a PSA platform?

Lori Ellsworth:  While the timing may be different for every organization, we see a couple of catalysts for investment pretty consistently:

  • Revenue  growth – either it is already underway or is planned near term,  with an expectation of sustaining that growth rate.  Organizations need to drive growth while maintaining or growing margins, which they cannot do while “flying blind”
  • Greater dependence on services for adoption and delivery of an organizations product
  • Changing services portfolio – need to optimize core services and build higher value add services
  • Global expansion
  • Planned resource growth
  • Managing mergers and acquisitions

John: The Changepoint 2012 release is hitting on some very hot trends. One of those is mobility. What are requirements or use cases for mobility you frequently hear from PS customers?

Lori: We see the two most prevalent groups pushing to work in a mobile environment are executives and services consultants.  For the executive who carries their device everywhere, we are delivering real time visibility into key business metrics and dashboards on the tablet.  For consultants or anyone “on the road”, the advantages of tablet and smartphone access is about time and expense management , and participating in business process – making it easy for them to do both so that they can focus more of their time on billable projects.

John: Another trend you are leveraging in this release is embracing big data, and you can’t do better than an OEM of IBM Cognos–one of the most popular BI products available. Could you talk about how real-time dashboards can help PS management become more proactive?

Lori: It is essential that services leaders are able to have “real-time” visibility into the health of their business, because as you suggest, they need to be proactive. Whether they are looking at dashboards for utilization, rate realization, margins, performance by line of business etc. anywhere access to data allows them to operate their services business better by identifying issues and trends while there is still time to have an impact!

John: I’ve been wanting to see a demo of the Intelledox integration since I read all the buzz about it on Facebook when it was first announced. I have to think with budget cuts being a common theme for 2013, this is a “must have” integration. What sort of time savings are your early adopters seeing?

Lori: Our expectation is that this solution is all about saving time – we have a wealth of information captured in the Changepoint solution for every part of the business.  Our Intelledox partnership allows them to leverage this information to build real time critical business documents, and get them quickly out to the customer.  Think about a Statement of Work for a services organization, which must contain standard legal info, terms and conditions and customer specific pricing and detail, all in a professionally presented document.  With the Changepoint/Intelledox solution, dynamically choose the template and text need, insert customer specific data from Changepoint and publish the document in multiple formats.  The alternative is to do this manually – very labour intensive and error prone.  This is one very specific example and there are many others, but the savings from this can be enough to justify the investment!

I’d like to thank Lori Ellsworth, and the rest of the Compuware Changepoint team, for the briefing and demo, as well as for entertaining my questions. And as always, thanks to you for reading!

Storm of the Century: How Did Your Cloud Providers Perform?

November 1, 2012

Boy oh boy. Hurricane Sandy made a real mess of the East Coast, and the effects will linger on for some time. For some companies, it was a great scapegoat. When my home land line and internet service went down on Tuesday, Verizon told me it was due to storms in New York. I know it was a terrible storm, but was it really responsible for knocking out DSL service for 24 hours in Los Gatos, CA, 3,000 miles away? I doubt it.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one experiencing an unplanned outage. I received this email from a TSIA member at 5:30am PT on Tuesday:

“My cloud PSA solution is completely down today. They made no provision for a backup data center, despite having a week to prepare for the storm. They have not communicated anything about the situation to their customers. It is our quarter end and my core business system is completely unavailable with no word on when it will be restored. If I could move off of this product tomorrow, it would be at least a day too late.”

That stings! Especially for companies that take disaster recovery seriously, finding out your cloud application vendors didn’t prepare a fallback plan is unacceptable. At least for this PSA vendor, I suspect considerable customer churn is right around the corner. I am obligated to pass along this outage information to any members evaluating solutions in the future, so there are impacts to future prospects as well.

I was working for Giga Information Group, an early analyst firm, when September 11th happened. Reeling from shock, we tried to do something useful in the days that followed, and the research organization published immediate reports about disaster recovery planning for every area of technology Giga covered. Hopefully, Hurricane Sandy will similarly force tech firms to create a realistic plan to keep systems running regardless of weather.  In light of the enormous shift to the cloud, it appears that many companies have launched cloud initiatives without much thought to emergency situations.  I have to agree with the above email about the PSA solution–this wasn’t a freak earthquake that no one expected–companies had nearly a full week’s notice that this “storm of a lifetime” was brewing, and any cloud vendor in that vicinity that didn’t immediately plan for a backup server farm on the other side of the country seems downright negligent.

Apparently, someone needs to state the obvious: if you are going to make money by assuming the complexities of your customers’ deployments via cloud hardware and software, you darn well better make sure you have recovery plans for every conceivable emergency…and even some inconceivable emergencies. Your customers have placed their trust in you. When your systems go down…and you don’t even have the common decency to reach out to customers with updates…you probably won’t last long in this marketplace. There are too many competitors who pay attention to the fundamentals.

So if you are being pushed to launch a cloud alternative or a managed service offering this year, I hope you take a lesson from Hurricane Sandy. A single data center isn’t enough. Multiple data centers in a single region isn’t enough. And you better have a plan in place when the unthinkable happens on how to contact customers and keep them updated. Radio silence is not acceptable.

Just my 2 cents.


Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member Randy Mysliviec, RTM Consulting: Importance of Resource Management

December 14, 2011

TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.

Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members. Today’s interview is with Randy Mysliviec, CEO, RTM Consulting. A long time TPSA and TSIA partner, RTM works with consulting, professional services and shared services organizations to improve operational efficiency and revenue.

John Ragsdale:  I’d like to thank Randy Mysliviec from RTM Consulting for joining me today, and agreeing to participate in this blog interview. Randy, I know you were a founding member of the TPSA, now part of TSIA, and have served on the TPSA advisory board before joining the TSIA partner advisory board. Would you give us some background on RTM Consulting and the types of projects you help TSIA members tackle?

Randy Mysliviec:  Hi John, glad to be here. RTM Consulting provides strategic and operational advice to help technology companies increase revenues and grow margins by leveraging services more effectively. We specialize in Global Resource Management and Services Business Optimization, helping IT hardware and software companies, pure consulting businesses and support/shared services organizations get better at what they do.

In the past we have worked with many TSIA members including Adobe, Bullhorn, Compugen, EMC, Informatica, Mentor Graphics, MicroStrategy, NCR, TriZetto and others assisting with improving services strategy and operational performance.

John:  We are hearing from many members that there may be some belt-tightening ahead in 2012 due to risk in the economy. When professional services organizations talk budgets, one metric always drives the conversation: utilization. Why is utilization such a key metric for PS teams?

Randy:  In a professional services organization, the largest cost line item by far is people.   Therefore efficient utilization of that resource is paramount. We have done literally dozens of resource management assessment and transformation projects, and we find most organizations continue to struggle with some aspect of getting the right person in the right place at the right time. And the issue is much larger than just cost efficiency – proper resourcing impacts project timeliness, profitability and quality in a big way. Interestingly, most PS teams have invested in a quality method, and a Project Management methodology, but not a Resource Management (RM) methodology. We think the industry has it up-side down. An RM methodology should come first, not last. If you cannot resource a project correctly, what’s the point of tracking quality and PM status – the outcome is quite certain!

John: So let’s talk about effectively managing those expensive PS resources. One of RTM’s specialties is resource management, and I know you have a practice built around Just-in-Time Resourcing® (JITR), including a YouTube video on the topic.  Can you give us an overview of JITR?

Randy:  We introduced Just-in-Time Resourcing® (JITR) solutions to help companies with the complex task of getting the right person in the right place at the right time. It is our brand of human capital management solutions. JITR provides a systematic and disciplined solution to managing human capital in a hyper-efficient manner, while enabling more productive application of PM and quality methodologies. I believe that over the next decade, growing competition and marketplace change will continue putting unprecedented pressure on service providers to rapidly adapt and innovate in every facet of service delivery. Effectively and efficiently sourcing and managing resources will be the new high water mark for the industry and by utilizing Just-in-Time Resourcing® companies build the right set of capabilities to accomplish the most efficient use of human capital.

John: Do companies have a difficult time transitioning away from the old project schedule approach? What are some of the common problems you see regarding resourcing with TSIA members?

Randy:  The industry in general still views RM as the last priority vs. PM and quality methods. It should be their first priority. There is so much waste in PS process spending today! Getting the right person in the right place at the right time does require substantial sophistication in human capital management, but given that it’s by far the largest line item in their budgets, it’s a no brainer investing in an RM methodology and solution.

John: With the recent launch of Consumption Economics, TSIA has a big push around making products more customer centric so technology is more easily adopted and time to value is accelerated. This is a topic RTM Consulting has been discussing for some time, with your Value Realization Framework. Can you talk about the link between user adoption and company revenue?

Randy:  You’re right John, we have been discussing this very trend for some time and it’s something we feel very strongly about. Today’s increasingly complex technology solutions are making it more and more difficult for customers to adopt all of the available features and functionality and achieve maximum value from their investments. Ultimately, this diminishes client satisfaction and loyalty, threatening client retention and future revenue streams for technology vendors.

As with most challenges, this trend represents a tremendous opportunity for services organizations within technology companies to increase their value by aligning their services portfolio with their clients’ most pressing need – achieving real value from the product. If these companies evolve their services teams from product implementation and support to valued advisors, they will drive user adoption – the most critical element in growing company revenues. Services is the key!  Shortly after J. B. Wood released ‘Complexity Avalanche’, we introduced a very comprehensive methodology designed to help companies improve value realization for their customers.

John:  We’ve focused on professional services so far in this interview, but before we close, I wanted to be sure our readers know that you also have a lot of hands-on experience in the customer support and outsourcing arena. What sort of projects are a good fit for RTM Consulting on the support services side of TSIA’s membership?

Randy:  At our heart we help technology companies make services work better for them in every respect. We know as much about Work Force Management (WFM) for support services as we do about Resource Management (RM) for PS teams. This is true for every other aspect of running a support or education services operation. For support service providers we can help with customer acquisition, retention, revenue management, work force management, channel strategies (contact optimization), infrastructure support, or overall support service strategies.

John:  Thank you for taking the time for this interview, and for providing such excellent content!

Randy:  Thank you for the opportunity John. It’s been an absolute pleasure serving on the TSIA Partner Advisory Board.

Automating Quote to Cash: End-to-End Process Automation Improves PS Utilization and Profitability

September 26, 2011

I just completed a joint research paper with NetSuite on the subject of quote to cash and the impacts on professional services (PS). The paper will be making the rounds in the weeks and months to come, but I wanted to highlight some of the report since this was a new topic for me and a fun project overall.

Quote-to-cash is the macro-level process for enterprise technology purchases, encompassing the acquisition of customers, the sales process, implementing technology purchases, ongoing support for customers and, above all, timely and accurate billing and accounting, including the initial purchase, add-ons, as well as renewals. In the past, automating the quote-to-cash process has been an unreachable goal for most companies because the number of technology components and required integrations were too complex and too expensive to justify—if even possible with existing customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools.

Fortunately, this is changing, as industry consolidation has created viable end-to-end solutions, and on-demand suites with highly scalable Web services components are making integrations faster, easier, and less expensive to deliver to customers. Companies that automate and streamline the quote-to-cash process see advantages in three primary areas: more precise advanced resource planning and revenue projections; more timely and accurate project accounting, which can increase the revenue stream and reduce days sales outstanding (DSO); and ultimately, higher service levels for customers, which drives satisfaction, loyalty, and repurchase.

The new joint research report defines quote-to-cash, identifies the required components and integration points to automate this macro-process, and explains the advantages of automating quote-to-cash in regard to professional services and overall company profitability.

Automating quote-to-cash involves streamlining processes across three separate enterprise applications.

  • CRM. Customer relationship management, or CRM, provides software to manage the customer life cycle, including marketing automation, sales force automation, and customer support automation. At the core of CRM is the “360-degree view of the customer,” a single view of the customer including every contact and interaction they have with your company. CRM is often referred to as a “front office” application, meaning the tools are customer facing.
  • PSA. Professional services automation technology, or PSA, allows professional services teams to more effectively plan, manage, and execute customer projects, providing tools for resource management, project progress and utilization tracking, project billing, and reporting and dashboards to measure operational success.
  • ERP. Enterprise resource planning suites, or ERP, integrate internal and external management information across the enterprise, embracing financial administration, managing accounting and DSO, as well as manufacturing and supply chain tracking. ERP is often referred to as a “back office” application, meaning the product is not customer facing.

The Quote-to-Cash Process

The report includes some best practices, ROI analysis, a discussion of “quote-to-cash in the cloud,” and a great case study from NetSuite. The report will be posted to the white paper section of our website in a few days and I will post a link when ready. I hope you all will check it out!

As always, thanks for reading

Leveraging PSA for Education Services: Resource Management

November 15, 2010

Earlier this year we launched our new Education Services discipline, and the TSIA Education Services Advisory Board is now live, with more than a dozen education executives from companies including BMC, Red Hat, HP, Kronos, SAP, and others. A big shout out to my research team member driving education, Maria Manning Chapman, who is doing a fantastic job building out the discipline. My contribution to our education members will be covering the core technology used by education services, and in anticipation we added a category for learning management systems (LMS) to the 2010 Member Technology Survey so I already have some information about what tools companies are using and how satisfied they are with them. In 2011, I will be working on a market overview of learning management technology, which covers a wide array of tools including content development and management, knowledge management, video and screen capture tools, remote delivery/distance learning, etc. Look for this report around mid-2011.

The first inquiry I received from an education member was not about LMS, however, but more on core resource management. What do large companies use to manage education resources? Are there specialty tools, are do they rely on an existing resource management tool?

To answer this question, keep in mind that education services are part of professional services in many companies, with administrator and/or end user customer training part of the total package of services typically sold in a deal. Today’s professional services automation (PSA) suites are sophisticated enough to manage complex scheduling scenarios, making staffing recommendations and warning about resource shortages using analysis tools that factor in consultant skills, training, certifications, location, salary costs, etc.

To get some real-world examples, I contacted Compuware, whose Changepoint PSA suite was named a Recognized Innovator last month in Las Vegas. Today I had a chat with Kirstin Roberts, Lori Ellsworth and Rick Morreau from Compuware, who confirmed that their PSA customers frequently use Changepoint to manage resources for education, making sure the right resource is allocated for any training class, and alerting in advance of training classes scheduled with no clear instructor resource available. It sounds like lots of things are making education resource management more complex these days. As an example, remote/distance learning means that a single resource can teach a class for the East Coast in the morning and for the West Coast in the afternoon, all from their office with no travel required.  With this level of flexibility, resources can be scheduled for multiple projects in a day.

Education customers use more of PSA than just resource management. The integration to billing systems and ERP means attendees can be entitled, tracked and billed correctly. The Compuware team offered several examples of how education services are using Changepoint today.

  • One company uses Changepoint, integrated with their online registration system, to track class sizes, manage training resources, and even generate invoices for all the people registered for a course.
  • Another company tracks each training class as a separate SKU within Changepoint, which are sold as packages to customers along with other consultant services. Delivery of all services, including training, are managed by the product manager as part of their deployment methodology.
  • Another customer integrated Changepoint with their LMS to handle training “credits” and track cost.

I clearly have a lot to come up to speed on for our new education services members, so if you have any cool examples of how companies are leveraging innovative technology for the process of education customers, let me know! And as always, thanks for reading!

Compuware’s Product Portfolio Management Approach Trumps CRM

February 18, 2010

There are a lot of problems with the traditional philosophy of CRM, i.e., marketing, sales and service organized around the customer.  One critical problem: where’s development in this picture? In a Web 2.0 world with customers demanding more influence and transparency regarding products, not emphasizing and enabling the customer:development relationship could be fatal.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot after spending time with Compuware last week to better understand their Changepoint solution,  which in effect enables companies to organize around the product–not the customer–yet still actively involve customers at every step. Compuware’s Product Portfolio Management (PPM) view of professional services (PS) and professional services automation (PSA) fills the void left by CRM, and for B2B companies in particular, seems a much more effective approach. Instead of marketing/sales/service, the Changepoint macro process is New Product Development > Release Planning > Project Execution > Product Support.

I was already familiar with Compuware’s PSA expertise; their PSA solution is highly adopted by TSIA members with strong satisfaction scores. But I didn’t know they offered a full suite of tools for development and technical support, including detailed bug and enhancement tracking, development project management, support incident management, customer self-service, and customer input on products a la idea storming. And, the product offers richly customizable dashboards to view everything.

Changepoint Development Project Dashboard

So much of TSIA’s view of the industry involves service and development working more closely together.  Making the product easier to support. Adding features to enable remote monitoring and maintenance. Prioritizing bugs and enhancements in order of customer impact and cost to support. Adding maintenance tools or industry versions to cut implementation project time.  On and on.  None of these problem will be solved by CRM, but incorporating an PPM view of customer management could.

For companies who don’t have their support incident or PSA software integrated to their development tools, you should really look at an end-to-end demo from Compuware to understand the value of viewing customer engagements and interactions in context of product development. It was certainly eye opening for me.

I’m doing a webcast with Compuware on March 4th at 10am PT, here is a link to register.  Please join us for a look at linking practices to business results and learn more about the Changepoint solution. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions.