Chances are, if a company has invested in a collaboration or relationship management solution without an experienced solution partner offering ongoing coaching, support and training, its internal IT support staff is feeling the sentiments of one or more of the following statements: “I have 7 other jobs”, “Management thinks it’s just another application, like Outlook”, “It’s not an IT job, it’s a strategic role, but nobody gets that”, “User adoption is low, and I don’t have the authority or manpower to effectively drive higher adoption”, “I’d rather do anything than try to learn this”, “I don’t spend enough time on this to ever be very good at it”.
And they would be right! For example, it takes certification in as many as four (yes FOUR or more) exams, to become a proficient resource capable of architecture, implementation and support of platforms such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM or SharePoint. Not to mention, countless hours of on the job experience, to really excel at the role. Companies often think that they can just send their IT folks to some training. But is that realistic or worth the investment? How much of the training is really retained by someone who goes to a class or conference but whose day-to-day work is comprised of only 10% of the subject matter he/she was trained on? And how much does it cost not only in training enrollment fees but in opportunity costs related to other work that resource could be doing? Not to mention the fact that these solutions are updated at least twice per year, so how does an IT resource keep up with the ever changing solution? The simple answer is that he/she doesn’t.
So what does a company do when faced with the situation outlined above? A firm that knows it’s not practical to keep support in house, but dreads the thought of sourcing this externally to end up losing money on a support plan it doesn’t use? Consider for just a moment, the prospect of a support engagement that goes beyond the typical break fix model companies are accustomed to being pitched, and ultimately signing because they have no other viable options. What if support really meant having the following experts available as needed: Business Analysts, Sales Managers, Marketing Analysts, Solution Architects, Developers, Executive Coaches, Training Facilitators and Front Line Power Users. And what if those expert roles were well versed in the systems, processes and people within the organization it was supporting, not just a tier one or tier two voice on the end of the line, tens of thousands of miles away? Sounds like support nirvana right? It’s possible and organizations shouldn’t settle for anything less.
A maximized support investment should offer that quick break fix rescue that is needed, but it should also offer so much more. First and foremost, the partner team should be able to wear the multitude of hats mentioned in the roles above and ultimately feel like an extension of the client’s team. It should offer both technical AND business expertise. It should be engaged in technical troubleshooting but more importantly in consulting, proactive planning, training and coaching. This team should be knowledgeable on the latest greatest releases to the given solution, as well as be able to offer up and execute upon enhancements. Oh and let’s not forget this team should be open to delivering these services remotely or ONSITE, shoulder to shoulder with the client team, when applicable.
A true solution partner will also counsel the business users and participate in the solution Steering or Leadership Committee. What’s that? Organizations that don’t have an active leadership committee to govern the solution are likely seeing poor user adoption and ultimately a less than desirable return on investment from the implementation. Check out this blog about building a SharePoint leadership team for more details around this concept. This school of thought employs the idea that support isn’t just reactionary but proactive.
To that degree, a support partner should be providing insight into best practices and how to best adhere to them without deploying too much red tape within an organization. Additionally, semi-annual or annual system health checks should be conducted. Those health checks shouldn’t be limited to identifying items that need maintenance, but should also take a comprehensive look at: security, backup structure, version upgrades, and last but definitely not least - user adoption metrics. Those metrics will provide insight for the Leadership Committee into not only adoption, but employee engagement. In other words, how effectively is the system being used day-to-day in business processes, running meetings, making decisions and planning for continued improvement and success?
If after pondering the concepts outlined above, you’re interested in a plan that meets more than just your emergency needs, consider taking a moment to answer the questions in one of these self assessments. For more information about this blog or C5 Insight’s Sherpa Consulting Plan, please contact us here!
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