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The Need for Project Management Is Rising in the Channel

There is a wide gap between active project management and providing order status.

4 Min Read
Project Management
Project ManagementGetty Images

Before Telarus, I spent most of my career building, staffing, and running contact centers. We provided the right people and technology to help businesses reach out and respond to their customers.

Most large contact center outsourcing companies spend more time looking for opportunities than pursuing any targets. The best contact center companies invest heavily to create processes and methodologies to replicate and enhance their success.

Large BPO and contact center opportunities are complex. There are many parts, and professional procurement teams are built to harness all requests and look for complete solutions. The teams spend time creating request for proposal, or RFP, documents. Strong RFPs include an overview of the services requested, detailed requirements and specific questions which need to be answered: What type of work is required? What kind of technology can help improve speed and efficiency?

For years, I led a team that found, qualified and responded to RFP requests. We would spend weeks finding, responding to and cleaning up our proposals, and we would review them, look for inconsistencies, highlight strengths and validate our proposal’s financials. If we made it past the first round, our team met with the potential customer’s procurement and response team.

In one case, we knew our customer’s needs, and we answered all the technical questions. The team loved the solution we presented, but they were not confident in our ability to execute what we proposed. We were asked if we had experience, how we would coordinate, and who would own communication within our organization. We answered what we could, but we were not prepared. We were so focused on the presales response that we failed to identify critical members of our implementation team. We walked in confidently to this meeting, and we walked out realizing we had failed to show our ability to execute.

We lost that RFP but learned a lesson: A solution is not a solution if you can’t implement it. Sales is just as much about creating confidence as it is answering questions.

I have watched the channel evolve and offer more complex technology. The opportunities are larger, and the demands are higher. While relationships remain crucial, if your business cannot create confidence around execution, the chances of winning drop.

Over the last six months, I have seen a 3 to 4x increase in requests for project management support. Just like an RFP, we look at the requirements and talk about the end vision.

Sadly, within the channel, the term “project management” is very subjective. Most of what is offered is superficial. Just as a Hyundai and a Porsche are both cars, there is a significant difference between the two.

I see three offerings available to partners when discussing order implementation.

  1. Order assistance: Another party provides detail back to you. When you submit a contract, a person giving order assistance will help to coordinate the initial actions and then monitor milestones. This communication is never white-labeled, and the person assisting rarely talks to the end customer.

  2. Project coordination: An assigned coordinator will take the signed order and “own” it through implementation. This provides more in-depth support, and the coordinator steps in to handle issues. This service may or may not be white-labeled. The coordinator may or may not handle communication with the customer.

  3. Project management: Requires significant engagement. A true project manager often engages in the selling process, helping to create a vision for execution. The role may or may not be white-labeled, but the PM has complete control of the project and acts as the partner to the supplier. Comprehensive project management starts with a coordination call so that roles can be identified and clarified, and responsibilities can be assigned. Proper project management should have a statement of work and regular, consistent communication. Threats to delivery are shared, and scope creep is monitored so plans can be adjusted.

A project manager will be focused on delivering these things:

Project-Management-Focus-1024x523.png

There is a wide gap between providing order status and actively managing a project from beginning to end.

The need for project management in the channel will only increase. Make sure that your vision is being met. Be smart and get the support you need.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Should I involve a project manager in my sales process, and will it enhance my chances of winning?

  2. Do I need a project manager to be white-labeled?

  3. Does my project require a specific, dedicated focus or coordination across suppliers or various site?

  4. Can I deliver on the execution required?

If the answer to most of those questions is yes, then here are the questions you should ask your potential business partner:

  1. Will your project manager hold a kick-off meeting?

  2. Will your project manager provide a statement of work?

  3. Is your project manager able to be white-labeled?

  4. Does your project manager have the bandwidth to handle a dedicated project?

  5. Will your project manager be assigned for the life of the project?

  6. How will your project manager handle communication?

  7. What type of tracking tools does your project manager use to ensure success?

Take the time to ask the questions and get the help you require. This is your business and your potential customer. Be prepared so you can walk into any room with both expertise and a plan to execute.

Good luck, and happy selling!

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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