Few weeks back a friend have asked me for the best method to build an integration team in his start-up. A team that will be responsible for the implementation of their product into the customer's network.
In my opinion calling such function as "integration" will be aiming low, as it will force the team to focus only on such activities, with minimal value added to the company. I suggested to call it "Professional Services" in order not to limit the team's activity to narrow aspects of integrating a system into network, and being able to offer additional paid services such as network audit and optimization, training etc. Having a professional services team will contribute the company to position their customer facing activity with "customer success" approach.
I therefore suggested the following plan…
The below three steps methodology is not new, but I still see it relevant for implementation, especially when a product company makes the decision to move from basic product support services to more solution-oriented services, and in that aspect, it is the integration services that my frieand's start-up looks to provide.
Of course each phase has its unique challenges and priorities that will be handled in due time.
First phase: Recognize when the company begins to offer implementation services. This phase occurs when a product company first makes the decision to offer services beyond basic support services. In this phase, the product company is willing to take on more responsibility for the overall success of a customer project. This typically means a willingness to manage the successful implementation of products from other companies if required.
Products of this phase: HLD, LLD, limited ATP and Basic operations training
Second phase: The integration services phase starts when one realizes that some critical components are required to glue together a customer solution, and these components don't exist. In this case there is a need to invest in specific technical skills required to build the solution. Success in this phase will make any vendor a critical business partner to the customer.
Products to be added at this phase: SOW, comprehensive ATP, Advanced troubleshooting training
Third phase: offering consulting services that designed to solve high-level business problems, where discussions regarding technology and products are secondary.
Products to be added at this phase: Network audit, IOT
Stay tuned, checking up with the progress.