Products and solutions are changing at an increasing rate in the technology industry. These changes often require professional and technical service teams to implement a comprehensive transition throughout the business, across channels and through delivery and support, in order to ultimately safeguard the end customer or user experience.
Professional and technical service teams are a group of individuals who each contribute specialized, specific knowledge and expertise. These loosely coupled teams (oftentimes spread across many geographic regions) may be part of a configured project to meet a specific goal, or to deliver a contracted set of services to ongoing service customers. Increasingly, these loosely coupled teams are formed specifically to plan and implement change for example, a change in target markets, channel roles, business models, solution architecture, data organization, or communication channels.
Each of these loosely coupled, dispersed professional and technical service teams today share a single overriding performance measure: the need for speed.
Why is Speed Such a High Measure of Excellence for a Services Team?
From the service business perspective, speed increases the odds that a project will be successful. If we are slow, people and requirements change. Technology may shift, partners may merge, buyers may switch or outsource, or the customer may find another way to do the same thing. Latency can bring about business risk as well. Funds might dry up, sponsors might lose interest, or costs might skyrocket as we are forced to do certain processes repeatedly.
On the other hand, moving faster, together as a team, drives an upward spiral of momentum, a more focused effort, and an increasing confidence in one another, which, in turn, leads to a growing trust that others will have in us.
Methods For Speeding Up Your Service Team
Professional and technical services teams are learning to define and deliver complex services more quickly in today's business landscape. For example, a project manager might assign a specific function to each geographic location of a dispersed team, or perhaps he might assign each location a team leader trained in the overall process in order to help the teams that share culture and time zone to work and solve problems as quickly and independently as possible.
Or perhaps the project manager will adopt regular weekly rhythms, for example, near-term goals reviewed and adjusted every Tuesday morning, a review of project touch points on a daily basis, or progress checks and test results on Fridays. The drumbeat keeps the overall team in sync, even if they are widely scattered geographically.
In the broader picture, web-based collaboration and mobile apps help even the most complex, dispersed teams coordinate service for faster response to rapidly changing technology and business needs flexible, adaptive service goes beyond process flow diagrams, shared guidelines, or thorough searches of past e-mails. It's really all about people. Today's successful service program and project managers tend to focus on clear, consistent role definitions and work to keep track of people who have the knowledge and experience for each role.
Social media and collaborative platforms help people move between teams and assignments without loss of continuity. From one service delivery or project to the next, people can find both the historical records, and the connections to the people who have filled pertinent roles.
What is Driving This Need for Change?
Business models are changing. Service providers now can choose from an increasing variety of service revenue streams, including engagements, subscriptions, consumption by device or user, online community membership, and on-tap access to experts and consultants. Many of these emerging service pricing and delivery models are inherently more flexible, responsive, and efficient than the old engagement agreements based on negotiated configurations or renewable annual contracts for predefined offerings.
Services that introduce products, integrate platforms, expand capability, empower end users, or make useful information more available have a direct impact on end-user productivity and customer line-of-business performance. Faster service translates into faster time to market, faster time to revenue, increased market share, and most of all, a great customer experience for long-term growth and sustainability.
To that end, many service teams are opening up channels of people-to-people communication with end customers, end users, and consumers, including their third-party and channel delivery partners. In each industry sector, they find shared values and priorities from their end users for value-add across market sectors.
Across the board, there is more product and solution integration and complexity, which increases the value of professional and technical services that more directly touch the end customer or user. What really adds value and margin in a complex, fast-changing world are the trusted relationships between technical and professional service people and those they serve across the delivery chain. Flexible, efficient, consistent, and responsive relationships between people from the first sale, on build the trust, loyalty, and reputation necessary for survival and growth.
At next week's Technology Services World (TSW) Best Practices conference, we will hear real-world examples from businesses that use new service environments to speed service time to market, as well as service response and delivery. We'll explore emerging business models that involve service teams who often work across companies, functions, and technologies. We'll see how service teams increasingly stay in contact with their customers with a constant flow of learning that adds value and competitive advantage to both their customers and to their own services business. We'll find complex teams meeting the need for speed.
About the Author
Carol Blanchar is founder and CEO of Conexo, a Silicon Valley company focused on the business analysis of emerging professional and technical services across high-tech delivery chains. Since 1991, the company has modeled the business value of collaboration across delivery channels and service delivery partners, and innovated shared delivery platforms to coordinate partner and customer teams for complex infrastructure solutions.
Conexo currently works with Silicon Valley organizations and strategic planners to define sustainable, profitable service business models that provide one seamless service fabric to the end user. Carol may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.