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As part of its regular coverage of telecom and IT channels, Channel Partners covers the transformation of channel business models. This blog includes entries from its ongoing coverage, including case studies of partners in transformation.

Transformation Blog: Priority No. 1 – Back-Office Automation

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Kieren McCobbBy Kieren McCobb

Reason dictates that explaining the transformation of our agency’s operation to anything different would first be well served by describing what’s being changed. Reporting what’s going on will occur mostly as it happens; I’ll state what we’re doing and then what we’re looking to change, and why.

Our New Jersey office tends to do more traditional consulting while the Pennsylvania office is tremendously adept at TEM. The Pennsylvania office also has a thriving subagent practice. All peripheral services, such as TEM studies and RFP creation, bring in network service accounts and each is a nice profit center.

At present we use common methods to conduct business – scanning, e-mail and doing as much online as possible. We try to minimize paper and store documents digitally, fax is a diminishing occurrence. Our back office runs smoothly at present, but we’re growing both organically and through alliances.

But perhaps the best benefit to our efforts would be cradle-to-grave automation of all things relevant to a customer – from initial acquisition, and how we targeted that customer, through needs documentation, pricing, proposal generation and contract necessities and transmitting to the carrier. Then, perhaps we also would include auditing pricing and compensation against carrier statements and commission runs. Start-to-finish handling like this can be automated to a great degree using different systems, so we still perform our due diligence.

We’ve looked at a number of these over the last several years. They’ve come way down in price and capabilities have increased. John and I strongly favor hosted services when possible, including automating the back office. We’re presently as electronic as physics allows, but acquiring a software tool to possibly eliminate some steps and make the flow of customer lifecycle smoother interests us. VENDORS TAKE NOTE: We would like to see more. For example, most systems are amazingly lacking the CRM tools. Can you add it on as a module or integrate with, for example, Microsoft common apps, Salesforce, Goldmine, etc. This way we have tracking right down to the decision-maker’s birthdate.

It’s only a matter of time before we implement something, and we’ll describe the process for you in upcoming blogs.

Kieren McCobb has been in telecommunications for 29 years. For the last 15 years he has run TeleConfusion Removal Inc., Milltown, N.J., a consulting firm that offers advisory services to end-user clients as well as being a master agent. Along with complete telecom services, TeleConfusion Removal specializes in call centers and the hospital/health care verticals.

John J. Gallagher is founder and CEO of Common Sense Technologies LLC , suburban Philadelphia, Pa., a business solution provider focused on expense management of commodity type products like telecommunications, energy and hosted data services. Gallaher has more than 21 years experience building independent agencies. Previously, he was the principal at Gallagher & Associates, a data services agency, from 2001 to 2005. Prior to that he was a data consultant on WAN solutions for Digital Access. He began his career in the channel in 1989 with Execom, a Verizon Authorized Distributor.

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