*Originally published on CommercialIntegrator.com
How can systems integration businesses manage a rapidly growing firm and ensure they are scaling up the tech they implement?
We all have clients that have grown by adding more users, more equipment, and more technology to do business. However, it takes significant resources like funding and employees to sustain that growth. Some companies can grow by scaling.
Scaling is different in that revenue grows but resources grow at a slower rate, increasing revenues exponentially. The ability to properly apply technology to planned growth lends itself to scaling up a client, and your company along with it.
As with any plan, you need to evaluate where you are before you decide how to get there.
The first step is to take stock of everything you have in your current arsenal, from people and technology, both yours and your clients’.
Look at other vendors you can leverage or partner with, as well, as they may be a component to use in your plan later.
Your client will expect you to determine what is important and what is not.
They may have a need you don’t currently provide, but could, and you’ll need to determine if it should be a source of revenue for you. If not, choose a trusted partner to fulfill on that need.
In order to scale the development, you need to know where the client is going. Typically, most businesses will have a three-year plan.
Knowing what those plans are allows you to accommodate them and apply technology to it in a way that can save resources over the long run.
Another concept to consider is to make a disaster plan.
Using crisis management to manage failures of various degrees is another way to prepare to scale any client.
This type of plan allows the business to prepare for if, or when things go bad or simply not according to plan.
The disaster plan is a good way to be sure the business survives failures of different kinds and accounts for contingencies you’ll need to grow and scale.
Requiring that a client uses equipment and a tech stack that is standard for your organization will save you both time and money.
It is worth investing your time into researching a stack that gives you both profit as well as functionality and longevity.
When you standardize on a product line it’s easier to introduce new tech without a large learning curve for you or the client.
Document your processes as well.
Look for ways to automate what you can do and use standardized processes to increase productivity, communication, and management.
You can use less skilled and less costly staff to do more work when they have a documented process to follow.
Service & Support
Servicing and supporting a client as they scale can be painful as well as costly for the provider, but only if you don’t plan.
You will need to hire and train staff before you need the staff.
Failure to be prepared could lead to a drop in levels of support which impacts all of your customers.
During this growth stage, customer service will need to evolve to account for the additional people and technology that may be deployed at a higher than normal rate.
Providing self-service options for your clients will take some of the burden of simple, but time-consuming tasks away from your staff.
All companies that are growing, especially if they are scaling, will be juggling more than one job at any time.
You will need to make what you do, how you can be reached, and how issues are reported very transparent.
The client won’t have the time to track you down and figure out where you are in any project. Get the information to them at their fingertips and show them how to obtain it as they need it.
Maintain a customer portal if you can, or at least share project management tools.
In order to start ahead of a clients’ growth, you need to evaluate what resources you have available to you. Plan what the growth, or scaling will look like.
Then, make a contingency plan or three in case of miscalculation.
Get your processes and tech stack standardized and documented to save time, money, and resources.
Know what your hiring needs are and stay ahead of them so you’re not letting your service levels drop.
Finally, be transparent with your client so there is no mutual mystification regarding all the projects. If you can leverage all of those things, you can scale up your systems integration business alongside your clients.