• October 1, 2003

Hot Seat: Mike Maszka on Trends in the Services Market

Andersen Consulting alumnus and former PeopleSoft Vice President Mike Maszka has successfully built professional services teams for several software vendors. And he's in the midst of doing it again as vice president of professional services at customer service solutions provider RightNow Technologies. CRM magazine News Editor Martin Schneider asked him about the services market today. CRM
: What are clients most looking to get out of a CRM implementation nowadays that a service provider can help accomplish? Maszka: Clients are typically looking for three things. First, they want to accelerate time-to-benefit. They can't wait nine to 12 months to see any return on their investment. Second, they want to maximize those returns by hooking up with someone who really knows the specific technology being implemented. A team that has a lot of hands-on experience with the software will know how to take advantage of all of its features and functionality. Third, beyond the specific software involved they're looking for an organization with solid CRM best practices expertise. This expertise adds further value to the engagement--especially if the services provider has a strong background in the client's vertical market. CRM: How accountable should a service provider be in an implementation as compared to a vendor? Maszka: In a perfect world both vendors and service providers would be fully accountable for the client's success over the long haul. Unfortunately, many service firms believe their job is done once the client is up and running. I take more of a life-cycle view. Of course it's important to get the client up and running as quickly as possible. But the fact is that in any software deployment there are many high-impact enhancements and refinements that you can only make after you've been live for a while and you've had a chance to assess your early-stage performance. So the services organization I'm running today actually remains accountable to the client throughout the entire time the client is using our software. CRM: How has the role of services changed as more and more companies take on the quick-wins philosophy of phased implementations? Maszka: The quick-wins approach has rocked the old-school systems integrators. Their business model depended on big-ticket, long-duration engagements. By breaking up those large engagements into smaller ones--where they have to "re-win" the account at each stage--the new model drives up their cost of sales. It also means they can't load up each engagement with half-a-dozen consultants with little or no experience with the software product, who ride the coattails of the two or three true subject-matter experts they put on the job. That's why I believe that to be successful in this new environment you need technology that lends itself to quick wins and can be effectively supported by a small, very experienced consulting team.
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