IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Getting Your Processes Shipshape

Logic Speak revamped its approach to service delivery and time tracking, and is reaping the rewards of better efficiency and growing profits as a result. By Jason Etheridge

BURN THE SHIPS. Like maritime explorers of old, Logic Speak followed that approach after we rolled out a new service delivery process. There was no turning back. We knew there might be casualties, but our client and revenue growth had outpaced our investments in internal systems and processes. If we had continued on that path we would have imploded. Our new service delivery process has become the foundation of all our subsequent growth.

Our voyage began in 2015, when I bought out my business partner. This was the result of advice we had received from a business coach, who had astutely pointed out that neither of us was willing to let the other drive the boat, and lack of a clear leader was holding us back. The first three things I did with my “new” company were to craft a real mission statement, replace our help desk system with Autotask, and revamp our service delivery process.

Our homegrown help desk system couldn’t support the growth we wanted. We had an all-hands-on deck service approach, with technicians cherry-picking clients or tickets they could resolve quickly. As a result, we had a massive backlog. I enlisted the entire company to help with the Autotask conversion by assigning different functional areas for them to learn, implement, and train our employees on. But we were still doing things the same way, just in a new system. 

Shortly after that I heard IT business coach Manuel Palachuk speak at a conference about “the 10 golden rules of PSA,” which is basically a high-level framework for how you interface with clients and handle tickets. He also addressed tracking work in real time, which we had struggled with for years.

After trying to muddle through his recommendations on our own, I enlisted his help to implement what he calls “agile service delivery,” which is about adding structure to the generic canvas that is your PSA. It ensures that we provide solutions to our clients’ needs predictably, reliably, and accurately using industry-standard priorities, well-documented tickets, complete and accurate time tracking, and a refined focus on the next task at hand. Ultimately, it helps our technicians eliminate noise and do what they love—fixing problems for our clients and having a positive impact on their day.

Because we’re working and tracking in real-time, from the moment my technicians get to the office to when they leave, there are no gaps, overlaps, or duplicate time entries. We can look at a person’s day and see exactly what he or she was working on. Not only does that help in billing, but the real beauty of it is we now have an accurate and complete picture of how our technicians are spending their time, so we can drive greater efficiency.

In addition, we can more accurately plan for our backlog and calculate how long it will take to clear out pending tickets. We track that on a rolling 12-week basis so we can pinpoint any issues that are slowing us down.

We are also able to easily tweak processes that aren’t working, and we hold regular meetings to give everyone a voice. When your system is as well defined as ours, you can change a knob half a degree and see how that affects efficiency.

There were some casualties. We knew we might lose people who were resistant to change, and we did, despite our best efforts to involve everyone and get buy-in over a several-month implementation.

However, the combination of process improvement, working and tracking in real-time, and converting to managed services has been transformational for our business. We’ve doubled our net profits and are on track to grow revenue from $2.5 million last year to $3.5 million this year. Moreover, we have been moving upstream and signing larger managed services customers.

The bottom line is, we couldn’t have done any of this, including acquiring an IT service company, without revamping our service delivery process. That’s why we burned the ships.

Photography by Brad Newton

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