Transitioning from ‘Break-Fix’ to ‘Total Solution Services’ What’s Required?
By Mark Hordes, Alexander Consulting, LLC
Envision for a moment that the traditional approach to providing ‘break-fix’ solutions support to your client base disappeared overnight. What thoughts, feelings, and actions would begin to emerge? How would your organization react? What options would you explore? Where would the shortfall in revenue come from? And last, what would be required to move your entire customer support organization to a higher level of services where you identify your client’s issues and problems and begin to offer a ‘Total Solution Services’ alternative?
Look around the professional services marketplace today and what do you see? The big five consulting firms are taking on alliance partners. Integrators are expanding their service offerings to encompass end-to end solutions. Product companies of all shapes and sizes, from ASPs to medical imaging firms, are being asked by their customers to provide a total solution experience. In response, professional services firms have taken on several strategies to meet this marketplace need. Some have refocused their service offerings’ expanding service lines, outsourcing, in-sourcing, and acquiring new companies’in an effort to build critical mass quickly and sharpen their marketing messages. Understanding how to be a winner in this race will require emerging from a deep sleep of failing to change, to the awakening of becoming a Total Solution Services provider.
An organization’s ability to execute effectively depends on how the organizational model supports the delivery philosophy and strategy of the firm. Additionally, successful execution is dependent on the ability of the professional services staff to partner with clients to deliver total solutions that address underlying business needs and problems. Today, service innovation is moving at a fast pace,and companies that provide services can maintain market advantage for only brief periods of time. The real distinction of the leading services firm is the manner in which its services are delivered as part of a total solution for the client. The organization’s workforce market niche and services will be the competitive edge to maintaining a market leadership position.
Step back for a moment and take a 360-degree look at where your professional services firm stands. How can you assess where you are and build a transformation plan to make the migration to Total Solution Services a reality? There are eight building blocks required to facilitate this process:
1. Assess your market credibility. Who is in your competitive space? Whom will you compete against when you move toward Total Solution consulting? What service needs will have to be met, developed, or expanded? How should you position yourself and gain the attention of new customers and clients?
2. Design market-strength service lines. This involves integrating, linking, and building new services that are agile, market-responsive, and viewed as out-of-the-box.
3. Create a cutting-edge value proposition. Everyone can deliver basic services, but only the best firms deliver value to clients time and time again by creating market messages that help the client understand what is needed to help solve the challenges they are facing today and the problems they may see in the future.
4. Seek only the best talent. When was the last time you filled your automobile with the cheapest fuel while never considering the quality of that fuel? Instead, your interest is in the degree of excellence, prevention, performance, experience, and the ability to arrive at your final destination. This is analogous to building your human capital potential. Clearly define the skill sets you will need to support the new business model. Consider what requirements you will need to leverage your existing talent. Can you think beyond traditional compensation parameters and pay whatever it takes to bring only the most talented professionals to the table? Think long-term in your investment in talent. You will find that the return is worth it.
5. Track only the financial and service measures that are most important. Select no more than 10 measures and build a pyramid that integrates strategy, markets, operations, and human-performance metrics. Examples of important measures include market share, utilization, cost of services, margin, satisfaction, quality, accuracy, and process performance. All these measures are key to your success.
6. Navigate your organizational strategy. Decide if your services should be organized by industry, geography, or both to build mutual support across all markets. This is a key touch point and a critical success factor. When your organizational strategy is not aligned properly, market penetration and leverage failure quickly occur.
7. Engage, execute, and deliver effectively. At the heart of this is your knowledge-management system where methodologies, tools, case studies, and training materials are accessible to all professionals in your organization. Knowledge is power. Build a powerful knowledge-management system, and each client interaction will have a solid foundation through which execution and delivery will run smoothly.
8. Stay forever focused on skill building and training. Coursework in professional consulting skills, project management, professional services selling, and professional services marketing are essential building blocks for everyone in your organization that interacts with existing and potential clients.
Professional services are experiencing rapid change. The most profound change is a new way to think about the services you offer and how best to organize to meet the total services needs of your clients. A traditional, break-fix orientation maintains only a minimum leverage model but does not position you for an expanded understanding of the client’s total needs. On the other hand, creating your service orientation and delivery organization with a Total Solution view opens new horizons and positions you at the heart of the business. Start preparing for this change today, or the change will manage you!
Mark Hordes is a partner with Alexander Consulting, LLC, a management consultancy that creates and implements strategies for professional services organizations. Contact him at 239-283-7400 or visit www.alexanderconsultingsbiz.com.
This article originally appeared in the December 2000 issue of The Professional Journal , a publication of AFSM International, Fort Myers, Florida.