A promising start-up in Silicon Valley is working on the next big thing since the slice of bread – as they always do. They have an excellent core team, an idea that could make them big and the VC support. As they got well into the product development, they realized they needed more resources, much more as they wanted to expedite their time to market. It is not easy to add another 10 or 15 engineers in Silicon Valley. Also, they needed a team to take care of the back-end operations. Several established small companies have their own captive centres in places like Bangalore. But, that is not a viable option for start-ups. They do not want to go to an outsourcing provider due to the concerns over IP, same team retention and resource quality/control.
Andor Tech was approached through a common friend if they could help.
Andor team realized that what the customer is looking for is a captive centre without the overheads and hassles of managing a captive centre. Andor is also cognizant of the fact that start-ups do have limited financial resources.
With these constraints in mind, Andor has setup a dedicated development centre for this customer. The entire development infrastructure – largely based on the customer needs – is based on open source technologies. With the usage of open source and social interaction tools, indirect costs are kept to an absolute minimal. Customer is allowed to select the hires from the short listed candidates. The team really works as an extended part of the core team in the valley.
For the first few months, the Bangalore team was given smaller components to complete. Four months later, the team is working on several new features with basic guidance from the core team in the valley.
The customer is very happy as they got what was asked for and now they are expecting to go live 4-6 months before the original plan. Currently the customer is working with Andor team on building the back-end and support teams in the same Bangalore centre.
A Fortune 100 Telecommunications and hosting services company manages the infrastructure and IT operations of the clients. They count several fortune 100 companies in Media and Financial sectors as their customers. While they have 70% of their customers in Americas, 100% of their operations are run from their HQ in North America. Also, they are planning to launch offerings in some of the emerging markets in Asia Pac region
Due to the location of the Ops team, teams are required to work night shifts to support other time zones. Not a happy situation for an experienced professional. Also, supporting the Asia Pac customers through US resources is not financially viable. At the same time, the company is worried about the risk to IP if they go with the outsourcing vendors. Also, they have heard horror stories of really junior resources brought by the outsourcing providers.
They have looked at the option of opening a captive centre in India. That is going to be a significant overhead on their management. Though they would want to do that at some point, they decided not to do that now in view of other strategic activities.
The client asked Andor team to suggest a solution that solves their current problem of night shift, makeing their offerings financially viable and improve the customer satisfaction.
For Andor team, this is a typical problem with a twist. For a problem like this, most companies choose to go with a vendor and build a team in locations like India or China. However, this customer feels that outsourcing providers are their competitors and so do not want to expose their IP to them. Also, being premium service providers, they would want top-class talent.
In such a situation, typical answer is to build a captive delivery centre where they could own the IP and can decide on the specific talent. But, they are not in a position to open a captive centre for the following 24 months or so.
So, they really need the best of outsourcing and captive delivery centres. There is an option called ‘Build-Operate-Transfer’ that neatly fits into this requirement. Most of the big and medium players do not want to do this as this requires lot of customized attention and process development as opposed to executing the existing processes for outsourcing deals.
Andor Tech proposed a BOT model for the customer with the customer having an option to transfer the team to their own captive centre at the end of the 24 month period. The customer agreed to the proposal and asked Andor Tech to execute the same.
Andor Tech built a global delivery centre for this customer in Bangalore according to the specific needs of this customer. The centre has redundant power supply, network access, biometric security, 24x7 redundant physical security. Customer’s network is extended to this centre and their global customers are supported from this customer.
Andor has built top-notch team with an average experience of 8 years. 70% of this team left the companies like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, HP and Cisco to join. In the words of the company CEO when he visited the centre, “You got an awesome team here. I wish we have this kind of team back in HQ”. It is not easy to get that kind of compliment.
Andor has deployed a simple and effective process that governed the entire BOT from requirements, interview process, evaluation, offer making, on-boarding, training and orientation, onsite travel, goal setting and performance review. From the original need of 21 members when they really wanted to test this model, the team grew to over 120 members. This in itself is a testimonial to the success of this project and model.
The team covered different aspects of the operations including, VPDC administration, database administration, Unix/Linux administration, windows administration, middleware administration, network operations centre and service desk.
Eventually, 24 months later, the customer has setup the local captive centre as was originally planned. All of the BOT team members are transferred to the captive centre. The customer is absolutely thrilled with the entire project where they have de-risked themselves at the outset and yet got all the benefits of the captive centre. In fact, they got better as they were able to leverage the experience of Andor team in building such centres earlier.
A Fortune 100 IT managed services company provides the on-demand infrastructure and hosting services to their customers. Their in-house infrastructure provisioning team has a 2 month long queue of customer orders on an average. This is affecting the customer sat, order booking and hence revenue recognition. The head of Infra delivery team selected Andor Tech team to study the problem, suggest the solutions and deploy them on approval.
Understand the nature of the problem & why it has been persisting. In the process, understand and document the processes involved in servicing the customer's order.
Present the proposed process to the customer.
Deploy the new process by leveraging the capabilities of Andor Tech delivery team as needed.
Andor team went about the process of conducting online surveys and reviewing and analysing the data to understand the complete nature of the problem. Some of the findings are:
The team started by critically examining each of the process, sequence and stated pre-requisites.
This aspect is touching upon the company offerings to it’s customers which is much more strategic than the mandate offered to the Andor team. So, the team decided to focus on optimizing the processes within the constrained environment.
Create a separate list of standard and customized services in the offerings. For all the standard services, ensure that the inventory for the next several customers are in place and that there is a regular replenish process. For the customized services, set the expectations to the customers as part of the SLA. Consequently, service costs must reflect these.
Why is the delivery team waiting for the formal creation of the customer record in the system rather than placing the hardware order?
This seems to have been result of a very tight financial process in place at times over riding the operational flexibility. Apparently, some customers who had “committed” did not end up being the customers. Consequently, the “financial” decision was made to ensure that equipment is ordered only after the customer record is created.
While this decision is financially sound in the specific context, it is creating a customer satisfaction issue and is making the very offering “on-demand” questionable.
Why is the deployment of software platform on the hardware manual? Why does it take 36-72 hours ? Why are there no specialized teams ? Why is this team located on geographic location ?
“The company is focussed on the enterprise market as opposed to consumer market. So, the offering is very complex and deployment of that cannot be automated”
“We have so many different offerings. Automation would mean so many different automation threads. Maintaining of that is going to be more difficult”
“We do not really restrict the customers to a particular version of the software out there. They can pretty much choose any version that they want. So, we cannot pre-configure a particular platform for the automation to happen”
All the statements are true in principle and this again points to the company offerings which we are keeping as fixed element in this analysis.
Still, the team sees this as a classical 80-20 situation: 80% of the work or elements of the work is standard and can be fully automated. 20% that varies from order to order will be manual. In reality, though not admitted, the team does not have a band width and direction to build the automation platform. Since they are fighting the fires for being slow (54 days time), they are not in a position to invest on the important element of building automated provisioning system.
Global specialized teams Vs Regional teams: A very important questions. Obviously, we can’t have both. The answer largely depends on the context. In the context of largely manual process, it makes sense to have specialized on the technologies so that we can get the productivity improvement. So, that makes sense for this company at the moment. However, when the company have an automated provisioning system, it really makes sense to have regional teams supported by a centrally located excellence team.
The above proposals are made to the head of the provisioning groups. They are largely accepted. Andor is now mandated to deploy these proposals without touching upon the larger questions of company offerings. Given the constraints on the provisioning team, Andor was asked to build the automated provisioning system and deploy it along with the other proposals. Also, Andor was asked to provide a regional provisioning team to support the Asia Pac business needs.
The proposal to pre-order the hardware for the standard offering is still in the deployment level.
Average provisioning time came down from 54 days to 17 days. For the standard offerings, the average provisioning time came down to 32 hours.