DSM Technology Consultants sped sales, increased existing client revenue, and accelerated new client growth using Microsoft® Practice Accelerators (“PA”). Company architects completely converted DSM’s services portfolio to align to Microsoft designs. By using certified consultants and delivering all projects based significantly on PA content, the company is leading their market in methodology and process execution. They have increased employee productivity by 15%, decreased the training time needed by new hires by 66%, and significantly reduced attrition. Cost of sales has declined 20%, while efficiency has increased, resulting in higher profit per project of 10%.Situation
DSM needed to leverage more from its market-leading consultants to meet customer growth. Project demand was growing faster than qualified talent could be hired and trained to deliver quality results.
||The Microsoft PA framework gives us a sustainable and repeatable process. It is critical for us, sped time to market, sped development, and is fabulous for customer communication.
Solutions Manager, DSM Limited
Historically, staff needed six months to a year to develop delivery content, tools, and methodology for a new practice. Every new hire spent time training on the unique approach used in their practice. Since people are dedicated to a practice, they are only trained on one domain. Because cross-training was hard, consultants missed potentially valuable related materials from other practices.
Custom content required more skilled personnel who could adapt and augment it as needed to meet specific customer requirements. Less senior consultants would struggle, risking quality, customer satisfaction, and DSM’s reputation.
DSM needed to adopt a proven, complete, quality practice methodology, process, and content to help its staff meet customer demand.Solution
DSM attended Microsoft® SharePoint® Practice Accelerator (“PA”) training in 2010 (https://partner.microsoft.com/us/40114791). Designed to help partners build a services practice around Microsoft solutions, a Practice Accelerator is a comprehensive set of reusable tools, resources, and best practices introduced with training via Microsoft Live Meeting. It enables consultants to successfully identify customer requirements and project scope, design requirements, and deploy a solution. The complete documentation set includes project guides, templates, architecture guidance, as well as planning and design guides.
After attending the PA, DSM wanted to leverage the PA’s best practices. Architects completely overhauled all four of the company’s service offerings. The PA framework structure enabled them to create sustainable and repeatable processes for solution preparation, development, and delivery. Every solution developer has been trained to document and share best practices to ensure repeatability.
According to Michael Hinckley, Program Manager, DSM, “[Each practice is] almost like a company within a company… It is an organic unit in its own right and has its own growth,” with full service offerings from initiation through final delivery and dedicated, certified, specialized headcount. “Now 95% of the content delivered to customers is stock Microsoft [PA content],” he continues. Hinckley says they were able to create and update practices for SharePoint and Business Intelligence (“BI”) very quickly because the groundwork from the PA materials was already done. He states, “We can now dedicate more thought time to projects and practices. The engagement methodology has become the cornerstone to our practice.” DSM consultants leverage a series of PA posters that show the solution database, security, deployment, architecture, site organization, and other key information for their practices. They refer to it to clients as 'encapsulated knowledge'. Like PA content generally, sellers and consultants find the posters “fabulous for customer communication” says Hinckley.
Hinckley has been dedicated to diligently explore PA content and updates to accelerate and extend adoption. “We’re actively looking at other PAs. We can do this again,” asserts Hinckley.Benefits
Reconfiguring DSM to the Microsoft Practice Accelerator solutions frameworks has paid substantial dividends to the company. Practices that normally took from six months to a year to develop were deployed in four weeks. For example, after attending the Business Intelligence PA training session in the early spring of 2011, they were able to deliver five projects in the same quarter. “Normally, we’d still be building the practice” says David Griffiths, Solution Manager, DSM. The depth and clarity of the PA material enables consultants to tackle more complex problems with better integrated solutions as well. “We're now hooked into a Teradata system using PerformancePoint service data through SharePoint – we wouldn't have been able to touch that before,” asserts Griffiths.
DSM consultants find that the knowledge base is a substantial time saver. While working with a client shortly after launching their BI practice, they found three articles in the PA resources focused on BI deployment that were vital to the engagement. “That right there cut down the time searching and validating blog entries,” says Hinckley.
||We can now dedicate more thought time to projects and practices. The engagement methodology has become the cornerstone to our practice.
Program Manager, DSM Limited
The Practice Accelerators and the standard, repeatable processes they introduced to DSM have shortened approval time for engagements by 20%. Sellers are able to concisely and effectively describe what each project will deliver and how it will be executed. The marketing content included in each PA is a current, powerful, and easily reusable source of valuable messaging that clients readily understand. Standardization also helps sellers improve estimated project costs accuracy. Clarity makes client commitments easier to secure.
Through efficient use of resources they have improved margins by 10%. Each consultant spends more time delivering solutions to clients and less time customizing delivery content. Combined with a reduction in practice development and training time, DSM is able to significantly improve quality, consultant utilization, and customer satisfaction.
The Microsoft approach has increased customer demand as well as raised the productivity of existing staff. Improving seller efficiency has helped DSM increase their annual project count by 15% without having to hire people.
When DSM does hire new consultants, PAs help them develop expertise much more rapidly. Previously recruits could take six months to become effective. Some would leave the company soon after hiring, wasting any training investment and limiting the company’s growth. Now that practices are based on PAs, they are fully incorporated in two months. Recruits find the material comprehensive, clear, and well organized, making it easier to learn and apply. Content is much easier to locate than before. “We know where to go for particular pieces of information,” says Griffiths. Faster new practice introduction, combined with faster new employee effectiveness, results in increased success and satisfaction. Nobody is leaving.
“Now 100% of [projects] are based on PAs. It is not an option to do a project without one,” says Hinckley.For More Information
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For more information about DSM Technology Consultants products and services, call (863) 802-8888 or visit the website at: http://dsm.netThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.