9.22.21 – CI – Patrick Whipkey
Integration leaders should be re-thinking key areas of business operations like sales, engineering, installations and close outs.
In 2020 the world was turned upside down and our business and personal lives were put on pause. The workforce needed to conduct business differently and evolve its way of thinking in order to continue operating. Everyone thought it would be better in 2021; however, it’s nine months in and safe to say that “better” is only a matter of perspective. While businesses are busier than ever and demand is still there, through the lens of a systems integrator we cannot complete projects.
Let’s be honest, salespeople are always going to sell what they know and say yes to their customer before the customer even asks. From an operations standpoint, the best thing you can do is to constantly stay in communication with the sales team. The more information they can have in their toolbox the better they can inform the customer.
The engineering process needs to be precise and quick. Traditionally this is one of the longer processes within an organization. You want to make sure all the details are correct and that all of the pieces are in the right place. Now is the time to rethink this process and determine where you can save time and increase efficiency.
One option is to outsource the engineering. There are some great options to off load this task to a third party, not only saving your business time, but also money and the final product far exceeds the work done internally.
Wow has this process changed! Thanks to the pandemic and the supply chain mess, procuring equipment is one of the hardest tasks. Options are limited but there is hope, leaning on member organizations to help is one option to help strengthen the partner relationships you formed with manufactures and distributors.
If you don’t have any strategic relationships, now is the time to start to build them. Focusing spend with certain manufactures and distributors will help in many ways. It will get you better discounts, it will ease installation and could generate some rebates.
We thought managing an install team was hard before, now add on top of that the list of requirements and restrictions by customers and it’s a scheduling nightmare. Over-communication is critical in this phase both internally to your technicians and externally to your customers.
Flexibility is paramount with product back orders and equipment delays. You need to have a plan A, B & C ready to deploy. This will keep you one step ahead of the action, but always remember the best laid plans often go awry.
Close out Process
Everyone is tired of hearing the term substantially complete. The truth is you need to keep a close eye on this phase of a project because this translates into cashflow. Cash is and will always be king and maintaining cashflow is crucial for a business. Do your best to close out projects and get creative on the substantially complete phrase. It will pay off tenfold in a few years.
The whole idea is to take a holistic view of your entire process and find the areas of weakness. You cannot fix or change your whole process, but what you can do is make some tweaks in key areas to get your business through these hard times. Its amazing what a small change can do to the bottom line.
About the Author
Patrick Whipkey is VP of USAV at The PSA Network.