Over the course of a service provider business’ history, there can be a number of critical inflection points, junctures at which the prospects of the business are substantially and irrevocably altered. Particularly early on, strategic decisions can have a significant and long-lasting effect on the organization’s trajectory. Making the best decisions possible at these points is vital: service providers often don’t have the luxury of second or third chances. That’s why enablement services can be such an important resource for service providers to leverage.
An enablement service provider can help your organization get up to speed with the latest technical innovations and they can fill gaps in expertise. In addition, as an external advisor, these individuals can bring an objective and strategic perspective to the business that internal staff—people consumed with day-to-day demands and enmeshed in the organization’s culture and history—can often lack.
How to Leverage Enablement Services to Maximum Benefit
When service provider executives decide to leverage enablement services, they have many options to consider. First, they can choose from a range of different organizations, including vendors, trade organizations, media, coaching and consulting firms, and more. Also, these organizations can deliver a range of services and resources, anything from highly customized workshops to high level white papers.
To find the optimal enablement provider, it’s often most efficient to start with your network. Talking to your peers can be a great way to kick off the process. Find out which firms or vendors your colleagues have used, and what their experiences were like.
As executives consider whether, when and how to engage with enablement services, they should factor in the following principles:
Waiting won’t help. Don’t get stuck in “analysis paralysis” or put off the inevitable. If the organization is contending with a challenge or problem, it is important to engage and get help sooner rather than later. In pretty much every instance, delays will only exacerbate the challenges.
Start with the end goal. Before getting into an engagement, it is vital to start with a clear understanding of where you want to end up. Establish a clear definition of what a successful engagement will mean for your business, and work with the enablement service provider to chart a path to reach that outcome.
Start strategic. In the end, if the strategic direction of the business is off, no amount of internal optimization will net the outcomes desired. That's why it’s important to start with strategy, and ensure the organization has a well defined, well conceived direction, and only then move to focus on internal optimization efforts.
Align your needs with the provider. As outlined earlier, there are many organizations that offer enablement services and a range of provider types, and each will provide different areas of focus and expertise. To the fullest extent possible, align your specific needs with the strengths of a qualified enablement service provider.
Don’t boil the ocean. Make sure you start with clear, achievable objectives.
Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with enablement services, following are a few keys to maximizing the chances of a successful engagement:
Start small. When working with a provider for the first time, endeavor to start with a preliminary engagement that offers a fast way to try the provider, and vet their people and processes, before signing on for a larger engagement.
Collaborate. The most successful partnerships will be based on effective collaboration. The enablement service provider should be flexible in developing a mutually agreeable engagement scope and timeline. Likewise, as a client, your team should be open to consultation. Look to provide background and let the provider help define the problem and course of action, rather than trying to spell it out for them.
Clearly define services and deliverables. As much as possible, look to establish clear definitions of the services and deliverables to be provided. The more these aspects are left vague or uncertain, the more margins there are for misunderstandings, dissatisfaction and inadequate results.
Involve the right team members. Generally, at least during the initial phase of the engagement, it is important to involve top-level management. It is particularly vital to get the perspectives of senior leadership on issues and definitions of success.
Provide full disclosure. While it can be a natural instinct to want to keep guarded with sensitive financial information or internal challenges when working with an external vendor, it’s important to fully disclose the information. Ultimately, you can’t get great services if you’re secretive about key data and issues.
Track progress. It’s critical to monitor progress and be vigilant of the time being invested and the value being received. If the relationship is yielding dividends and value, you can often stay with the vendor over the long term. However, when that’s not the case, it’s important to stop immediately, and make a change.
Enablement services can be invaluable in helping service providers contend with a range of challenges, and can ultimately provide a huge boost to the provider’s long-term prospects. However, the benefits of any enablement service are not a sure thing. By taking the time to vet prospective providers and carefully managing project scope and progress, service providers can help maximize the benefits they realize from their engagements.
For more information, download the white paper entitled, “How to Leverage Enablement Services to Boost Your Service Provider Business”.
This guest blog comes from The CA Service Provider Center of Excellence. The CA Service Provider Center of Excellence delivers the proven strategies and insightful resources that can help your business boost its efficiency, profitability and maturity. No matter where your service provider business is in its evolution, count on the Center of Excellence to provide the guidance you need to more fully leverage your technologies and investments, optimize your operations, enhance your go-to-market capabilities and scale intelligently. To access CA Service Provider Center of Excellence resources please visit http://www.mspzone.com