If you look at how he manages the OCC for other groups, they’re similar and yet different, because different people are involved, with different personalities. One of the things that he has been able to do is to come into each of those projects, with what’s now that standardized OCC template, and explain to people why each call is going to flow the way it does.
Then over time – and these are weekly calls over a long period of time – he’s able to adapt each one of those to the nature of the people and the task at hand. Every OCC looks different to a certain extent. They all have the same foundational pieces, but the pieces in between look different because of the nature of the project and the nature of the people. Its strength is flexibility.
We start out with this foundational aspect, this notional thing that we’re going to make practical, about leveraging CPDM. But we’re going to keep the nomenclature, we’re going to keep the structure as much as we can. However, we’re going to adapt it to what we need it to do, and we’re going to be really flexible in the middle of that. It’s more of a guideline than it is a code, based on the personalities and who we need to get involved.
Then when we need to report out on what has been done or accomplished, the Sales Beacon consultant works to put together a Smartsheet, and how we wrap it culturally back into a PowerPoint, so that others can see it. Our foundation is pretty consistent, and how we report out on the project is pretty consistent. But in between, what he does gives us the flexibility to accomplish what needs to be accomplished with the conditions under which we need to operate. I think that’s his real strength, that he’s been able to develop. Frankly, I just leave that to him and so when he does his stuff, he adapts it to each one of those situations the way he needs to and as long as we stay true to the core principle of it.
A deli sandwich approach to project management
Q: My analogy is that it’s kind of like a sandwich. A sandwich typically has bread on either side, that’s the foundation of the sandwich, but there’s an infinite array of possibilities for how you want to build your sandwich. But as long as you stay true to the fact that it needs to go between slices of bread, you still have a sandwich.
I think that’s a really good analogy. You can serve only cheeseburgers or you can go to the deli and they say they can put anything in there but basically, you’re getting a sandwich.
Have you ever heard of a deli called Jimmy John’s? Their brand is ‘freaky fast.’ I went in there once and made a mistake, for which I was summarily corrected. I wanted something toasted. And they were like, “Dude, no.” I said, “What do you mean?” They replied, “We do cold sandwiches. If you want that stuff, you go to Subway, but this is a deli. And by the way, if you stop talking, we’ll make you a sandwich freaky fast.”
Now, when they made it, I actually liked it. I actually like Jimmy John’s now, because I know when I go there, I know what I’m getting, and I’m getting it fast. Basically, they are true to what they are. They’ll give you cold cuts, and they’ll give you a number of options as long as it’s within their stated parameters, and they’re going to be really efficient at what they do.
That fits into your analogy about the sandwich. I think what we’ve been able to do, and the Sales Beacon consultant has been able to do, is to shape and mold this process. You know the top and bottom of this thing, like in a sandwich, is the OCC and how we report the process out.
The way we’re going to do this is to say that from these 15 options, we’re going to have Marketing, we’re going to have Legal, but maybe for this one we don’t need the contracts people involved yet, and then you get different people and you get different personalities. But I like that sandwich analogy, because like I said, the strength of the OCC is its flexibility in the middle. We can build you any kind of cold-cut sandwich you want, in the middle, but it’s going to be built like THIS, and it’s going to report out like THAT.
Q: Is there anything quantifiable about the improvements that were made, or any other metrics that you can share about this?
I don’t know. Every one of these projects and processes is so different, and dependent on so many different things. Funding, willingness to move forward, did they hire anyone. So, if you ask, did we shave six months off the process, I don’t have that kind of data to give you.
(Note: Client recounts a story, indicating he wants it kept confidential, about a project that did not go well because not all the steps had been attended to.)
When we started working on improvements, we said we needed to look at the process again. So, we got a resource who came over to help us, and she was from the BU, and so her thing was kind of focused on go-to-market activity. I watched that, and this time we were paid attention to. Do we have SKUs? Do we have an order entry process? At that time, they seemed like complex, organic-chemistry-type of equations. After we’d done a few more offers, we realized that was just simple mathematics. We didn’t even need algebra.
We thought we’d got this process all covered, and then we found a number of issues that we never thought of. Then I realized that somebody out there probably knows this stuff. These aren’t random problems, they’re things that show up all the time, we just don’t have a way to put the right people together. So, we asked, “Hey, do you guys know how to build SKUs?” And they said, “Well, if you’re going to build SKUs you need to build them a certain way so we can put them on certain contracts. Hold on, if you’re going to put them on contracts, what partners are we going to use?” Somebody else jumps in and says, “Partners? That means that we need to go through the right channels, because if that’s the case, provisioning matters.”
When we realized that, the Sales Beacon consultant and I talked about it, and I went hunting around for a process. I looked at CPDM, and I went to the consultant and I said, “I think we can adapt it.” At worst case, I think we can find out about problems three months earlier than we know about them today. Maybe we won’t know about it six months ahead. But at least we can put things in place so that people will have an opportunity to speak up. This means that if there’s a problem, we can say, “You were on the call six months ago, why didn’t you say something?” We couldn’t do any of that previously.
So, I can’t give you metrics. What I can tell you is that our offers now have SKUs when they come out, our offers now have a partner plan when they come out, and while we’re building the offer, we have an idea of which partner we’ll work with. For example, are our traditional partners going to sell this? Are our customers going to want to buy this service through a contract vehicle? If so, which of your top ten partners do you want to work with on this? If not, we’re going to have to build a partner model that will work for the kinds of partners that your customers will want to buy service from, compared to those that they bought product from.
Now, we’re able to have those conversations months and months before the offer is anywhere near baked, whereas before, we didn’t even know to ask them.
So that’s a really long way to say I don’t have the data, I can only give you anecdotal examples.
Q: What three words that would describe your experience working with Sales Beacon?
Professional, integrative, and diligent.
Q: Did you learn anything from working with Sales Beacon?
If I can net out what your consultant does for me, he allows me to be me. He’s like the other half of me that thinks through things. Maybe it seems to me to be too much thinking, but then I find out later it was probably the right amount, and I wouldn’t have thought about it at all.
Having him supporting me means I don’t have to take notes when I’m on a call, because I know that he’s there, he’s getting the parts that he knows we need to know about. So, I am much more comfortable just me being me, because I know that he is there doing all the stuff that he does, and so I’ve come to rely on that.
Q: Do you feel that this engagement with Sales Beacon has improved your life?