Many of our clients engage with their customers through custom/bespoke service offerings that are designed, engineered, costed and commercialised on a deal by deal basis. Time is never on the service providers side and rushing introduces more opportunities for error. Obviously, this is not a scalable approach and introduces a significant amount of risk through the quote to cash process.
Many have identified the problem and wish to move to a more standard and modular service model, but at the same time they do not want to lose the flexibility they currently have in designing solutions. We think you can still be standardised and flexible and:
Reduce Operational Risk. Designing a custom solution over a three month sales cycle that you need to support for 36-60 months means you really need to get it right-first-time. We all want to ensure what we have sold can be delivered to the expectations of the customer. Standard services is understood by operations, repeatable and more scalable through tooling and automation.
Maintain Sales Flexibility. Standard does not need to mean fixed. Standard to us at servicePath means modular services that pay a role in delivering solutions through interdependencies and relationships. in combination they provide more value than the sum of their parts with “variability” clearly understood through business rules and logic. We think it is achievable to have a high degree of variability in a portfolio whilst reducing operational risk.
Reduce Administrative Overhead. Without question, every provider wants to remove administrative overhead across their cost to contract process. Reduce the number of service SKU’s, maximise the amount of re-use, ensure more consistency in what/how services are contracted. By doing this we can reduce time-to-quote and time-to-revenue delighting leadership and customers.
With that said, we hope the next question is “great, how do i get started?”.
Investigate your portfolio and identify which combinations of products are used together. In turn, establish relationships, dependencies, limitation and constraints. This was a key drive for us to develop “Product Parameters” in the platform.
With common elements identified, you can identify duplication and what is not required. These need to be removed from the portfolio, reducing SKU’s and administrative overhead. For example, do we really need to have
Define Relationships and Supported Variability
Every customer thinks their requirements are unique. Its okay to let them think that but it is not reality. There are always common patterns in service configuration that need to be identified and used as the foundation for a standard service definition.
Establish Configuration Logic + Business Rules
Modular services are like building blocks, but they provide little value without logic to bind them together and business rules to ensure combinations work. Importantly, we need to define the tolerance for variability… To us these are basic products (no variability), bundles (low variability) and configured products (high-variability, but governed configuration).
A portfolio of services is like any other data set. Without attention and care it will get bloated and become a burden. With commonality, de-duplications and clearer understanding of relationships in place we can optimise the portfolio – removing duplicates, refreshing configurations and service packaging.
As per our last word below, it is difficult (read: impossible) to be 100% standard…. hence you need some form of governance. Enable your team to make real-time and informed decisions. Consider that decision should cover commercial, technical and operational dimensions, but your systems must allow for debate and decisio
Aside from what others may say, we don’t think you can completely remove the need to deliver custom solutions for customers. Accept that not all customers are the same, nor should their solutions. Empower your team to engage with customers, know the building blocks and relationships they have to work with and apply their hands-on knowledge to build relevant solutions that address a real business need.
I guess the only question that remains is….what system to you have in place to do this?