Friday, November 28, 2008

Practice Eco System - Support Systems

A practice or a young organization exists for servicing a particular need in a narrow area. It is easy at start. You quickly build trust with the single trusted source(for your revenue and existence) and so assemble a team who share the same spirit. You go to great lengths to keep them satisfied and get few more orders based on this work and relationships.

Over a period of time, you move into domains that are traditionally not your fort, but you still know it is doable given the experience you havehad with past projects and processes.

As a coincidence, a project comes in, which is typically skewed, towards higher price figure, and it demands you ramp up team and also need them to work from day 1 in the unknown yet optimistic allied sphere. This is where the problem starts. The talk of this project consumes you completely and make you leave other priorities behind.

This is when support systems, if carefully managed and tuned to anticipate this day, will you show your mettle. To do business as usual when you explode with big orders, it is necessary to evolve with support systems than organic hiring and growth. To integrate multiple partners, vendors, service providers, contractors, part time staff, administrative staff, for bringing a service closer to customer needs requires enough maturity in processes and concern for their well being in not only you, your bosses, but with the organization itself. For pointers I would like to see implemented for good support system would be:

1. Give a differential badge when they enter your premises like "Participative vendor", "Esteemed service provider", "Our Customer" and treat them better - subject them to lesser queries, attend to them faster, give a recognition smile, etc. And please, use a better quality paper than normal visitor tag card.

2. Typical description of support system is that monetary consideration are the fundamental priority over relationships. They start with relationships and would continue long after the professional engagement, but when they become your support system, they need money - simple. So my wish list is to clear their payments immediately or within 7 days than make them give credit and service together.

3. Make legal life simpler - Legal teams are well within their roles and I respect the people in this field who suspect and prevent liabilities and would like to spin their command on language in the stamp paper. But your support system gives you life support and it is important that legal gives in win-win clauses than just look at preventing liabilities at the cost of other. Many a times, my major frustration is in crossing this hurdle.

A good "practice eco system" with support system being the central pillar and other pillars being

1. Your employees

2. Your processes

3. Your IT infrastructure

4. The project management team and

5. Your administrative Team

will deliver the transformation from a cost center to a profit center.

To ensure deliverance in a harmonious ecosystem, you need to cultivate it with Focus, Discipline, Course correction with love for co-existence than as a self contained unit..

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