Guest Blogger: Paul Boucherle, CPP, CSC
In my last post, we spoke about the trends around digital transformation for system integrators and the potential benefits. I provided a few recommendations on how to identify if your organization is in need of a transformation and how to overcome the common inertia to change.
This post digs further into the pragmatic steps once you’ve decided it’s time for your organization to implement the digital transformation initiative. We’ll focus specifically on adopting System Surveyor to digitally transform the site survey and customer engagement process – but the same concepts may hold true for other digital transformation efforts.
STEP 1: Start by identifying a project owner and a couple of key resources
A project owner is important to champion any new process and your digital transformation is no different. He or she should report to an executive leader and provide regular updates on progress as well as bottlenecks. Ideally, the project leader will have access to sales management, engineering/estimation, IT and operations depending on the scope of the project.
While not everyone customizes the process first, it can be advantageous for the project lead to identify a resource to manage the database. This person is responsible for creating, inputting, updating, and maintaining the System Surveyor Element Profile templates (think of them as the product catalogs) that will be referenced by the sales/design team during a site survey visit. There are a variety of system components, peripherals, and cabling elements to be considered. This person will create, leverage and import the initial “element profiles” and provide periodic updates. Having a strong background in systems design for specific product lines and attention to detail is recommended for this role.
SUGGESTION: Start with your most frequently sold system category such as video surveillance, access control, A/V, or fire systems. Narrowing your initial focus will provide steady progress, confidence, momentum, and faster implementation. Test the first system category in the field to gain feedback, then make necessary corrections. This approach will lead to valuable feedback and insights for formal group training. Be patient as the first system will take a little longer. Also, look to System Surveyor’s manufacturer program to see what is already easily available for import. Check out a how-to video here.
STEP 2: Replace old manual methods & map out new sales processes
Gathering better information and data accurately and organizing it logically reduces sales assumptions of what the customer needs. This is the time to redesign your sales process around core capabilities and the speed of data sharing and collaboration. Think in terms of parallel not serial work processes. What could be done in one step as opposed to two? For example, could information and pictures be captured that would not require hours of work back at the office to put it all back together? The answer is yes.
A great example of a process remapping is preparing before a site survey and getting the survey in a digital format for easy drag-and-drop to visually consult with a customer. They LOVE it compared to staring over a paper floor plan. But, your sales people may get frustrated if they are not ready when out in the field. This is where asking for a PDF of the survey or a picture of a fire escape plan BEFORE the meeting is a game-changer. We’ve all had that issue where we can’t easily get a floor plan, see this post for 5 helpful tips to get a floor plan.
Ask yourself: How will your qualification process change? How will prospects and customers perceive your new technology approach? The quality of your proposal says a great deal about your company.
SUGGESTION: Don’t try to force fit a new digital transformation platform into an outdated process. Work arounds usually don’t work very well. Design your new processes with considerations of how technology could eliminate manual work arounds. A great example is to ask the question: why are we exporting into PDF and emailing surveys rather than working in the collaboration platform and inviting others to the site? Why are we printing this out when we can log into the cloud? Break down the workflow and see what could be digitally streamlined.
STEP 3: Engage the sales team on the benefits & train everyone
Start with the vision of why and how the sales teams will be transformed and the benefits to their support system of estimators and engineers. Discuss the potential benefits such as: helping customers with budgetary estimates, creating a selling differentiation edge by visualizing with customers, increasing the number of proposals they can generate per month, eliminating miscommunication with customers, getting tighter estimated projects, and significantly reducing time explaining the intent with the installation team. Many will see these gains as worth the pain of some change.
Training is everything. Phase it, test it and observe it to ensure your sales teams have confidence and competence. Don’t overlook the benefits to the estimating and operations team – many report that they get more consistent information and visuals that have long been a problem in handoffs.
SUGGESTION: Consider how technology can level the playing field between newer and more experienced salespeople. Could it flatten the learning curve and help new talent get to productivity in 3 months versus 6 or 9 months? New talent may “get” technology and what it can do for them and are less attached to “this is the way we have always done it” mindset. Encourage tenured professionals to help new talent by using the collaboration and communication methods available in the platform. See the Comments feature in System Surveyor.
STEP 4: Create the right metrics to chart progress toward your goals
Establish a baseline of past performance to measure your progress forward and benchmark your company and potential ROI.
Key metrics to start measuring:
- average hours required to complete a survey with customer input;
- hours it takes to design and price accurate designs;
- average number of follow-up site surveys to verify conditions;
- average close ratio between proposals vs. contracts;
- time required to redesign proposals that exceeded budgets;
- cost/margin impact of adding/changing equipment that didn’t meet customer needs;
SUGGESTION: The right metrics will focus the team on the business side of system integration in tangible ways. Three metrics that other System Surveyor users report are: 20% increased sales close rate, 35% reduced time for decision ready design & 10% improvement in gross profit margin. That can act as an industry benchmark – but you need to start with the ability to measure it.
STEP 5: Evaluate the customer life-cycle & potential blueprint for post-sales
While not everyone tackles digital transformation of the full life-cycle of service delivery, there could be an opportunity to use the new platform for pre-sales and post-sales. Consider if the platform could provide the installation team and project managers a clear “blueprint” of how to plan, stage and deliver more profitable projects faster and more professionally. Engage this team’s input on whether it makes sense to remap installation processes using System Surveyor, which should include a tablet. This will allow installation teams to visually walk through the design that was customer-driven (and proposed by sales).Could it provide better details to reduce go-backs? Could it improve the efficiency of customer-sign off for faster billing and cash flow?
SUGGESTION: There’s nothing more frustrating for technicians than walking into an installation with an unclear process, limited knowledge of customer expectations, or having to justify delays for what sales promised and what they must deliver. Consider how the install and service team could benefit from accessing better, digital information as opposed to PDF markups and if they could close the loop more effectively.
Have a Vision – then Crawl, Walk…Run to better Customer Experience
You know the old adage, keep it simple and crawl, walk, and then run. We all know that having a vision and working towards execution is important. Acknowledge that change is a process. Have realistic expectations on implementing change. It requires good training, coaching of best practices, and a strong solution provider.
Through personal experience and client implementation of these 5 steps, System Surveyor passes muster for a high ROI digital transformation in several areas of the business. Think of System Surveyor as the vertebrae underlying your customer experience, and you’ll be amazed at how the team will adapt and thrive.