Overall Companywide Processes
The challenges of Support Portfolios in Chapter 1 are real. The current business climate has increased competition and put substantial pressure on pricing. Deep discounting on License or XaaS Subscriptions has led to equivalent discounting on Support offerings. A critical step to help manage this is to have working processes with the Support and or Subscription Renewal team. Key first step is to entitle check at incident creation time to make sure the customer is current on their payments, and to deny support if they are not. To mitigate Critical Situations a one week grace period works effectively. Next, at renewal time consider implementing an annual uplift program. 3% per year has worked in most situations where the discounting was deep. Having very good CSAT ranking described above helps this substantially. Restructuring agreements to adjust to actual license usage has increased through the last several years but is now stabilizing. I have witnessed stabilized Maintenance revenue with 90+% renewal rates using this approach.
The Customer Success Life Cycle in Chapter 2 is a good overview – the CSM role is critical in mid sized and large XaaS implementations as the Sales role is focused on the Landing the Customer. The CSM becomes the "Account Manager" to deal with ongoing implementation subjects.
The initial sales process with SE's and PS involvement is important in setting expectations. Highly product trained SE's with deep product knowledge help tremendously in properly scoping and sizing the configurations. Reasonable product demonstrations that match the function and scale as closely as possible are key. Where the situation requires a POC, engaging PS and making the POC billable is often appropriate. Further it lays the foundation for detailed requirements gathering that improves the formal PS proposal.
Robust Training offerings with Certification Testing that are effectively planned with the customer early – substantially reduces downstream support challenges. Creative delivery models are necessary to adapt to the current challenges that companies face in what they can afford. Options include SelfStudy, Remote class attendance, recorded sessions that can be individually streamed are all examples.
During the implementation phase any Product related issues should be raised through the Support team directly to the Products team. Product review of workarounds can help mitigate complex implementation issues. As described, the PS to TS project handoff should be formalized. Best time to start the process is at the beginning of the Project QA cycle. As a part of the handoff all Project Documentation is made available to Support. A discussion between PS and Support on issue resolution should clarify how PS Project issues that arise will re-engage PS to deal with. A joint meeting with the customer's support team to clearly establish roles on how product related and PS related issues will be handled.
A very important organization to have as a partner to Support is the Product team. The Support team should participate in the whole Product Release cycle, including initial product design discussions, reviews of documentation, early access to product for lab testing. If appropriate the TS Team can do a case review analysis to identify areas of the product that need targeted work to reduce customer operational costs. I experienced this having a very positive result with one of the product families my team supported.
For Perpetual License sales the Product Release Strategy is important in defining Support coverage periods – an example is 3 years of full support, 1 year extended without fixes, and formal end of life for support. These are defined and communicated up front. Subsequent releases of critical fixes are also important to accumulate and make available to upgrades and new customer sales. Most important is the agreed process on joint issue resolution on critical customer situations involving product quality related issues. These require direct interaction between Support and R&D in the issue diagnostic phase which means the availability of skilled developers on real time basis. This can be included in the Product organization planning cycle. This complete company organization commitment to high quality experience with the implementation and operation of its products leads to CSAT results that consistently exceed 90%, and satisfied, referenceable customers.
The unique operational characteristics of the Cloud Environment yields business benefits resulting from the vendor hosting the IT Infrastructure in a Multi Tenet environment. This produces savings resulting from elimination of IT Hardware, and Facilities/Operations staff. The Cloud Vendor can scale the Host IT infrastructure at lower overall cost to each tenet as a result.
Overlaying the above are Analytics solutions to monitor activity and performance.
The current environment is customers doing new application implementations that are Cloud based. There are a wide variety of Vendor offers with new offerings coming frequently, a very broad set of choices across specific application requirements.
Keys to Implementation success in this approach is adapting the Business Processes to Functional Content of the selected offering. This includes the requirement to minimize the need for customization. The team Develops, Test and communicates the software content committed to. The changes to the implementation are driven by the vendor to assure they small and frequent. They include on going Operations Management for issue resolution, ongoing functional upgrades, adjusted to specific Implementation and communication of other user implementations requirements that have been added. The Vendor manages the process.
The other key process is Migrating an existing Perpetual operation to the Cloud. Depending on the level of customization in the implementation this can be quite challenging. It is an opportunity to revisit the Business benefits of the content implemented. The process to complete requires rigorous assessment of the functional content in the Cloud offer. This includes identifying the Business Process changes that will be required – and gaining agreement to the cost to so. Then – building a Plan to change processes as part of implementation plan.
Workday has a very good paper on their website describes the benefits of the migration: leading-companies-made-smooth-migration-cloud
The benefits of Cloud implementations are substantial. The included the Elimination of IT Infrastructure Costs, including management and complexity of the environment, the ongoing maintenance cost and the upgrading complexity and business impact. By implementing standardized applications, it minimizes customizations, allows faster functional content growth and additions. Further, it provides the Business Users access to Industry Best Practice functionality. It minimizes the cost of customization maintenance. The Vendor offers are targeted to Industry Sub Segment uniqueness which leverages the above benefits further. Finally, it offers the advantage of conforming to Industry Standards for Compliance and particularly for conformance to the EU GDPR.
For Cloud based products the evolution of the product in terms of fixes and functional additions happens in an iterative way, and needs to be managed well.