Providing bandwidth infrastructure is a thoroughly modern business service – and a highly complex one. When this provider of bandwidth services in 38 cities realised their profits were being eroded by inefficiencies, Smart Tips was the natural choice to help analyse their problems and propose solutions.
We had already been working with the client to rescue a large, expensive network inventory project that had gone adrift. With our help, the client gained a tool that alleviated their previous data-sharing problems and gave them an end-to-end view of their business. They were now able to take a step back and assess their connectivity right across the organisation. It soon became clear that there were plenty of issues that needed to be addressed.
The client asked Smart Tips to look at how their business was structured and how it operated, and to suggest ways of making it more efficient. They specified two key requirements:
- Improving efficiency and reducing overheads in the quote-to-cash sales process. The complexity of the IT systems meant that it took far too long to process orders. In addition, the sales team were focusing upon selling highly bespoke solutions. These were labour-intensive and necessitated building new infrastructure each time. There was an urgent need to identify and focus upon selling the most profitable products. Capacity planning was also an issue: the sales team had no way of knowing which products and services were available to be sold.
- Identifying and resolving organisational, technological and process-related bottlenecks. Growth through acquisition had resulted in three different operating structures, multiple data formats, a paucity of documentation and a culture in which people avoided communicating and invented their own ways of doing things. Creating a more efficient organisation was central to removing the unnecessary costs that were preventing the client from maximising the value of their business.
First we needed to understand the business and the issues involved. We facilitated a series of workshops with teams across the company to define the end-to-end sales journey. We wanted to find out how people were spending their time and define the key pinch-points in the process.
Following the workshops, we put together a laundry list of problems, divided into the following categories: IT, organisational and people and behavioural.
This exercise enabled the management to step back and take a wider look at the organisation itself.
Previously they’d been focused on trying to resolve numerous micro issues, without being able to see what was behind these issues and how they might be linked. Now they were able to gain the big picture view and reconnect with how they wanted their organisation to be. And, crucially, they had a map for how they might get there.
The Smart Tips approach
The principle value we brought to this project was our long-standing expertise in CRM – particularly Salesforce – and our experience of large transformational change programmes. With over 45 years’ CRM experience at director level, we understand what works and what doesn’t. We know what best practice looks like and we’ve come across – and solved – almost every problem in the book.
How we did it
Our brief was to streamline the quote-to-cash process and eliminate costly bottlenecks, so we prioritised the problem list according to urgency and feasibility.
We were already working with the client on IT and process re-engineering issues. Our work in this area included defining a tool that would reduce the amount of customisation (and therefore the overheads) required to create products, and, more broadly, ensuring that proposed solutions answered the business’ needs.
As far as organisational improvements were concerned, it was clear that these would take some time to implement. But time wasn’t something we had in great abundance on this project: the client was looking for quick wins.
So, we concentrated on the people and behavioural issues that would have a rapid positive impact. These included:
- Process recording and documentation: a great deal of the information within the business resided in people’s heads. We coordinated the documentation of roles, responsibilities and processes. We also restructured how the client shared technical documents within the organisation and used the intranet to make it easy for people to find what they need.
- Educating employees about organisational processes, roles and responsibilities: we made sure that everyone (especially the sales team) understood their role and boundaries, how they fitted into the process, and the impact of their actions further down the line.
- Change management: we publicised the changes and demonstrated to employees in simple and graphic ways how those changes related to the technology solutions. One of the biggest challenges we faced was cultural resistance to change. We put a fair amount of energy into managing this issue, although, realistically, it needed dedicated resource and effort.
User acceptance testing and training: working closely with the technology team, we supported employees through the system process changes. This included facilitating user acceptance testing and carrying out training across the user base.
Focusing on these rapid fixes soon began to have a positive effect on the sales process. With roles and boundaries defined, changes understood and clear information now available at every part of the sales chain, people were able to do their jobs in a much more efficient and collaborative way.
In less than eight weeks, we presented the client with a complete view of their business flow, identified all of the key problems, showed how these problems were connected, and provided a guide to resolving them. Smart Tips believes that technology is an enabler to achieving the objectives of an organisation. Helping clients to bridge the gap between technology and business – that’s our business.