What Makes TSIA Strategic Services Different from Consulting?

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Phil Nanus TSIA Strategic ServicesOften, TSIA members will ask us what the difference is between a traditional consulting engagement and TSIA Strategic Services. While we are always excited to share the many benefits of TSIA Strategic Services, the best way to fully understand the difference is to ask someone who’s experienced both and offer their unbiased perspective. I had the pleasure of speaking with Byron McDuffee, VP of Global Strategy for CDK Global, who recently wrapped up an advisory engagement with us. Here is what he had to say about his experiences and how they compared to traditional consulting.

Q: How did the TSIA engagement differ from others you have conducted with more traditional consulting entities?

Byron: What primarily stood out to me is the deep domain knowledge and expertise we received from you, Thomas, on organizational structure, as well as from Julia Stegman on offers, and Phil Nanus on customer success. This deep knowledge was the real differentiator for us in terms of getting the detailed information we needed on the topics of offers and customer engagement, which is what set the TSIA model apart. We don’t have junior people that we can involve in these engagements, so we’re pretty selective in who we choose to interact with, and I feel this gave us what we were looking for.

But without question, this was the most if not the most efficient and effective consulting engagement we’ve ever had, to the point that we believe in terms of cost and duration, were probably reduced from a similar engagement by about 50%.

One of the best things TSIA brought out in our engagement was not only making sure we were aligned on the outcomes that we’re trying to drive for our customers and ourselves, but also the underlying cause-and-effect relationships that would impact our outcomes. For us, that was extremely powerful, and we’ve never seen that before.

But without question, this was the most if not the most efficient and effective consulting engagement we’ve ever had, to the point that we believe in terms of cost and duration, were probably reduced from a similar engagement by about 50%.

Q: What were the specific goals you were hoping to achieve through your engagement with TSIA?

Byron: Primarily, we wanted to produce better customer outcomes, improve the overall customer experience, reduce churn, increase application attach rates, and improve renewal rates. We knew that TSIA’s thought leadership and their exposure to leading best practices across the technology sector would help lead us to accomplishing these goals. 

The great thing is, you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the whole business right away. There are some shorter-term tactical things that you can do to begin realizing or invoking new benefits to your customers and economic value in return.

We’re still just getting mobilized for future state and establishing alignment on a common end, and there’s certainly a lot of work to do as we strategically transform ourselves over time with future state. But, in terms of the offering, we’re less than 60 days of our engagement and we’re actually going into market with new commercial offers that were collaborated on with TSIA.

The great thing is, you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the whole business right away. There are some shorter-term tactical things that you can do to begin realizing or invoking new benefits to your customers and economic value in return. So, to summarize our top outcomes so far:

    • We have future state vision for our customer engagement model
    • We have defined a pilot to implement several components of the future state
    • We have delivered a business case to support the next phase

This engagement also forced us to think about the organization a little bit differently, and we’ve made some shorter-term organizational alignment changes which will allow us to drive these offers more effectively and efficiently in the marketplace. This was largely due to the data and perspective that TSIA gave us during the engagement. 

Q: How did the TSIA frameworks and industry best practices help you accelerate decision making to align executive leadership on your goals? 

Byron: Because TSIA is clearly the expert in this space, they were able to help educate both our executive team and our extended team on our key initiatives. They got them aligned on the problems we needed to solve, prioritize those problems, and identify potential root causes while sharing similar experiences from other industry players. As a result, executive leadership was able to identify a dedicated team to engage with TSIA to design the future state, build transformational offers, and design a customer success function.

The ready-to-use frameworks TSIA provided helped us assess our current state, and their thought leadership and data allowed us to co-create a North Star on the actual future state. So, the deep domain tools and frameworks really made this engagement extremely efficient.  

TSIA was able to establish credibility with our executive leadership team right away, all because of their use of data. We see anecdotes and false perspectives all the time, but using data to support their theories really solidified their credibility with our team.

Q: What advice would you give to any company thinking about transformational change and how TSIA Strategic Services can help them?

Byron: It’s definitely a challenging time for all tech companies out there, and no matter what vertical you might happen to be in, my advice is that you have to get started and begin moving now, and you should start with TSIA. They will give you rich insight that will increase your likelihood of success and reduce your risk better than any firm in the industry today. 

More specifically, a good place to start is to bring TSIA in for an executive briefing. We carved out 3 hours with Thomas prior to our engagement, and he was able to educate us on how the industry has evolved and where it’s probably going next. He was also able to surface several pain points that we shared a lot in common with the industry as a whole, which ultimately helped us get alignment with our executive team around the problems we needed to go solve, which is what led to our engagement with TSIA. 

It’s definitely a challenging time for all tech companies out there, and no matter what vertical you might happen to be in, my advice is that you have to get started and begin moving now, and you should start with TSIA.

You’ll want to engage and educate your executive team to get everyone on common ground, and your engagement with TSIA can help you do that. This will allow you to work together in assessing the current state of your customer engagement model, paving the way to designing your future state, as well as new offer designs and the staging and sequencing needed to help make it come to life.

The bottom line is, you have to get started now, and that’s one of the things we’re most concerned about. You can’t settle for a “tomorrow” strategy, where you know things are changing but you’ll worry about it next quarter or next fiscal year. These changes are hard, but the sooner you get chipping away at them, the better, and TSIA can help.

About the Author

thomas-lah_80x100

Thomas Lah is executive director of TSIA. Since 1996, he has used his incisive analysis, strategic thinking, and creative solutions to help some of the world's largest technology companies improve the efficiency of their daily operations. He has authored several books, including, Bridging the Services Chasm (2009), Consumption Economics (2011), B4B (2013), and Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business (2016).

Thomas frequently writes about these topics:
Customer Outcomes | B4B | Outcome Engineering | Customer Success | Customer Adoption

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Topics: consulting, customer outcomes, TSIA Strategic Services, outcomes

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