Maximising your Solution ROI when going digital

By Lee Bourke

So, you are going digital. You have started or completed a project or projects to implement digital solutions. You and your technology partner have analysed your requirements and worked hard to test and turn on a digital platform. But what then ....

One item often overlooked when implementing digital solutions is the changing environment within which they will have to work moving forward into the future. You see, from day one of your new systems' use it will start to have a decreasing ROI.

This is due to the unstoppable changes in the environment in which this solution now operates. This environment includes the organisation, it's people, it's other processes and external factors such as the legislative environment.

Say you have implemented a solution and know that everything around that solution will continue to change causing a decreasing ROI. How can you mitigate this organisational risk?

We would strongly recommend that you have your technology partner provide a "Managed Service" for the solution/solutions.

For the purposes of this article, a managed service is a contracted set of services that are provided by a solutions provider to a solution-using customer. Typically, they are paid for monthly, operate as a use-it-or-lose-it facility and are used as needed to achieve specific solution outcomes.

For example, a company, ABC Flights, has a 6 hour per month Managed Service with its technology partner for an AP automation solution. It pays a monthly fee for this and requests work against it via a web portal.

Typically, ABC Flights uses this Managed Service to update invoice templates to ensure a high percentage of data is captured automatically when invoices enter the solution. It is also employed to make workflow routing changes, upgrade the software components to the latest version and seek advice from the solution experts on potential future projects.

So, who should demand these Managed Services? Well, we believe the customer and the technology partner should both demand them. They provide significant benefits for both parties. I have identified these benefits below;

Benefits to the Using Customer

  • An ROI that is sustained [and possibly even improved] over time - Work can be regularly scheduled to keep the system operating at peak level despite any changes to the operating environment. The Managed Service can also be used to digitise additional processes and drive even greater ROI.
  • Team member satisfaction with their work as the systems they use are modern and operating well -  This is more important to organisations as the millennials continue to rise through the workforce. Like it or not, this generation expects their employers to be digitally savvy.
  • An ability to ensure you are maintained onto the latest versions of your software components - These versions generally have significant security upgrades as well as a slew of new and improved operating functionality. Whilst most organisations understand the importance of software maintenance, far less of them ever actually implement a regular upgrade process to ensure they are on the latest versions of their software platforms. This is often due to the cost of a technology partner implementing these upgrades. With a Managed Service, these upgrades can be done as part of the service thus ensuring the customer continues to reap the benefits of their investment in software maintenance.
  • Priority of work request processing with your technology partner - Your technology partner will definitely process their Managed Service customers in priority over their non-contracted customers.
  • A smoothing of cashflow relating to the operation of the solution - Even if you do not have a Managed Service it is highly likely that at some point in time [usually when there has been a big problem] you will need to spend a quantum of money maintaining the system. This work is generally not budgeted for.

Benefits Summary

  • A solution that adapts to the changing environment
  • Maintained, reliable systems for workforce use
  • Timely access to improved security and new / improved functions
  • Priority response from technology partner
  • Improved cashflow for solution maintenance costs.

Benefits to the Technology Partner

  • A happy customer that will often act as a referral customer - In our experience, our active Managed Service customers are easily our happiest. They get everything they want, when they want it and when there is an issue with the solution we don't waste time trying to work out who is paying, we just start work. Having a Managed Service means that the technology partner can be at their best when things are at their worse.
  • The ability to resource accordingly so that service requests can be dealt with in a timely manner - When a technology partner has a critical mass of Managed Service customers they are able to staff their engineering departments with stable, high quality solution engineers. If a technology partner only ever does project work it is much harder to ensure adequate staff levels for peak demand.
  • Significant increases in customer delight - As well as all the standard benefits from a happy customer there are also lots of efficiency benefits that accrue. An unhappy customer needs a lot of management. Most of that organisational effort is non-chargeable and diverts organisational effort away from strategically important tasks [like growth].
  • Reduced commercial risks as deployed solutions remain valuable for the length of the agree service contract - There are less late payments and discount requests as the customers are happy.

Benefits Summary

  • Turns customers into advocates
  • More effective technical resource management
  • Reduce customer rework costs
  • Significantly reduce commercial risks

Conclusion

So, there are many benefits to Managed Services however there is one key element that needs mentioning for those customers considering using one - A Managed Service is only valuable if it is actively used by the customer. Failure to use a Managed Service just leads to an unjustifiable organisational cost.

As we continue down the digital transformation path, more and more organisations will be implementing digital work solutions. These work solutions need to give great ROI and ensure that any human labour required by solution is deployed on high value tasks. First-world economies need for this to happen if they want to be able to maintain high wage levels.

Organisations that want to 'Win' in the information age need to implement solutions that deliver great ROI, delight their staff, adapt to the changing world and maintain high levels of security. Implementing a Solution Managed Service for your digital solutions is the best way of maximising your organisation's chances of being one of the 'Winners'.

Lee Bourke is Chief Executive Officer at FileBound Australia

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