Published on July 2, 2009
How to Build A Solid IT Services Business
Isam Shahwan, MBA
Services Sales Lead
Business Development / Sales Management Bid management and pricing + Risk assessment. How fast can you deliver a document that can address all issues yet be competitively priced? Pipeline management and forecasting quality and accuracy. How real is your forecast? How is the sales cycle managed? Are you keeping track? If so, how are you doing it and can you measure results? What is your closure rate? What is the opportunity aging and how can you improve it?
Business Development / Sales Management Sales cycle execution. Must have a solid sales director on the ground to accurately track execution. This person’s relationships are key in many areas among which are: Customer relationships for future and current business Customer satisfaction Invoice payments and AR management Strategic alignments with enablers and partners. Under various conditions the deal may have been brought in by another entity, how well do you know them? How can you get a piece of the pie? Can you align with the technology vendor to get a way in?
Recognize Your Strengths Augment your presales teams with business consultants. They are key to winning deals. Do not expand into territories unless you really understand what makes business work in that territory. Qatar today (2009) has a boom in the Health sector but in order to compete you must know the players and how you rank against them in that market.
Delivery Management Project management: I am a big fan of creating incentives for project managers and here is why:- They hold the keys to project profitability. If their eyes are open and they are a truly integrated and trusted member of a project team, they can make or break a project. Project managers must have relationship skills. It does not matter if this person has 5 certifications in project management because if they have 0 skills in relationship management projects have stronger likelihoods to fail. This is another strong key criteria for success. With the right skills they can save projects from failures.
Delivery Management Resourcing: Direct delivery staff: This can be an expensive option because it directly impacts your costs based on the resource’s utilization. Therefore, whomever you decide to hire here, this person better have excellent background/experience and must be forecasted to stay off the bench for more than 70% of his time. His bench time must also be used for BizDev and he needs to be ready to lend a hand when the situation necessitates it. Partners / outsourcing: This is a safe option if you have built relationships with organizations with excellent delivery track record and have good reputation. Staff augmentation: This is based on project by project scenarios and should be a safe option. Try and look for an option to work with an off-shore entity that has excellent delivery track record in your region.
Delivery Management Maturity and delivery management. A solid delivery manager should have the capability to grow the delivery maturity in order to:- Improve delivery forecasts Sign-off with confidence on risk assessment exercises conducted by the sales team. Reduce the number of failures on projects Improve customer satisfaction Post implementation checks.
Operations Core Accounting delivery milestones and confirming progress. This is key to measuring your recognized revenue in any fiscal cycle. Billing and AR In the Gulf region this can put businesses out of work quickly. If you do not know your way around the region and how to gain commitments, you can suffer and possibly go out of business very fast. Forecasting backlog delivery with assistance of Delivery team. This is always based on the delivery management’s confidence in the delivery team and expectations to meet milestones. Properly assessing customer satisfaction and reporting results to delivery teams.
Contractual / Legal Solid contractual instruments? Do not copy others’ contracts. T&C’s must account for potential failures and this must be adjusted for in your risk assessment (Pre-Sales). Clearly examine your warranty clauses. In Gulf, I am a big fan of not giving any because customers look at warranty as a support mechanism which inflates your post implementation costs. Clearly distinguish between the 2.
These are just headlines of what I have learned in my past experiences of starting one IT business in the US and working with Microsoft in its services organization for over 7 years. Contact me if you would like to get more specific details and how to fine tune it for a stellar sales and delivery org. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/isamshahwan
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