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From product adoption to driving time to value (TTV), services play an increasingly important role for technology companies. This has been particularly true in the software space, where the shift from on-premise to the Cloud has created the need for a broader set of new, repeatable services, especially post-implementation. The value services can drive is clear, and most companies have invested in solutions to help with their services. There seems, however, to be a clear focus on tools devoted solely to the delivery of services and all of the complexities around resource and project management.

With the changes mentioned above, many industry leaders and forward thinkers are looking for solutions to scale and automate the selling of their services and have realized that there has been little innovation in the “pre-delivery space” or front office. Why is configuring a service and adding it to a shopping cart a completely different experience than buying something on Amazon? Yes, there are custom aspects of services, but there are also plenty of content and workflows that are very standard and used over and over. At WorkRails, it is our mission to address this, and after years of research, help from thought leaders like those at TSIA, and feedback from dozens of clients, we have learned much and would like to share some insights.

The recipe for every technology company to automate and scale their services calls for three main ingredients:

  • Standardization: Identify and define services content and workflows that are repeatable.
  • Connectivity: Who are the users and what are the applications that need access to your services?
  • Alignment: If customers, Sales, and Delivery are aligned, magic can happen.

Ingredient #1: Standardization

One thing that we have realized is that no matter who we are working with and regardless of what they initially think, all technology services portfolios have a repeatable aspect to their content and process, allowing for standardization. The degree of standardization varies depending on a number of variables, but in every case, needless complexity can be simplified and outcome-oriented solutions can be created. We have seen boosted efficiency in even the most complex service offerings and have been able to power self-serve portals for many of the microtransactions, which TSIA's John Ragsdale describes in his post, "Microtransactions: Putting Existing PS (Professional Services) Resources to Work for Additional Revenue."

With the big trend around repeatable consulting and professional services microtransactions, an automated service catalog for PS capabilities is a requirement, and the only way to scale that business effectively.

John Ragsdale, Distinguished VP, Service Technology Research, TSIA

There are a multitude of benefits that come with standardization. Key among them; clarity, productivity and quality are all improved, which lays the groundwork for automation and scale. This opens the door to implementing software that allows services to be easily managed and sold with many of the perks we enjoy shopping for and selling “products” today.

Ingredient #2: Connectivity

After standardizing your services offerings and implementing tools to manage and sell your services, the next ingredient is connectivity. Software today is highly fragmented and specialized, but it needs to be seamlessly integrated into a company’s technology ecosystem (services anyone?) in order to maximize value. A well-documented API and/or bundled integrations are key considerations and almost a requirement of any software purchase.

workrails example  

(Click image to enlarge.)
Here's where WorkRails fits into the equation.

Services, in particular, tie into so many different aspects of a technology company’s business.

Any time a client purchases a service, details of that transaction should automatically be passed through to every party affected via your PSA (professional services automation), CRM (customer relationship management), customer success, business intelligence, and finance tools. With standardized, approved, easily accessible content being shared across your organization, there should be no disconnect between your Sales and Service teams, or any other part of your company. To quote a client who wrote a case study for us, “Multiple versions of the same content, located in legacy, disjointed systems and paper-based assets should be a thing of the past.

This level of structure and connectivity allows for new sales tools and organizational efficiency, which is key to our third requirement, alignment.

Ingredient #3: Alignment

The third ingredient is the internal and external alignment of your stakeholders. This is much easier to achieve once the first two ingredients are in place. As with any organizational change, success comes when there is alignment between people, process and technology, which TSIA’s Phil Nanus highlighted in his blog post, “3 Examples of Customer Success Convergence."

In their efforts to ensure that their customers achieve specific business outcomes, these organizations are seeing traditional services capabilities and organizational boundaries beginning to blur, or 'converge'.

Phil Nanus, VP, Customer Success Research, TSIA

With this blurring, there is a greater variety of stakeholders touching your services and each needs different content, messaging, pricing, and tools in order to effectively understand and engage with your services. These tools should all be integrated into your “Service Catalogs” and allow your employees, partners, and clients to fully understand your services at the point of demand, as well as configure those services to meet their specific use case.

The Main Course

In many organizations, the focus is on selling the product, and often, the services that lead to customer success fall by the wayside. Understanding and navigating service portfolios can be a challenge.

The right ingredients—standardizing your services, integrating them with your technology ecosystem, and aligning internal and external stakeholders with purpose-built tools—can lead to a level of automation and scale that most would have never thought possible when selling something as complex as technology services. The time to build custom SOWs and generate proposals can be reduced to minutes and hours from weeks and months.

professional services project proposal and source  

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A slide from John Ragsdale's Technology & Services World presentation, "Creating the Infrastructure for Profitable PS Transactions."

In the end, everyone wins. Bon Appetit!

I hope you find this article useful and would be glad to discuss how WorkRails has helped our clients automate and scale their services with our Service Catalog Platform.


James Droskoski

About Author James Droskoski

James Droskoski is a co-founder of WorkRails and oversees sales and go-to-market strategy, which helps companies automate and scale their services for Professional, Customer Success, Education, and Managed Services teams. He has over 20 years of experience as a serial B2B software entrepreneur introducing innovative new technologies and business models to the enterprise. Contact him at james@workrails.com.