Allari's 21st Century Platform is disrupting the IT Service Industry one customer at a time.
In a complex world, being able to change and adapt is better than trying to predict the unexpected or building robust systems that never break – both are impossible. Resilience and agility will be the key objectives for all organizations. It was already happening, but the pandemic has accelerated the transition to resilient systems. How does a business like Allari become more resilient, agile, and adaptable? By doing so, are we also helping our customers do the same? We were able to begin answering these questions with some help from the following resources:
- the book Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal published in 2015,
- seeing it in action at W.L. Gore, our customer/partner,
- and through our own efforts to implement what we learned.
Through the sources above we learned there are three major components to building a resilient organization that can succeed in an increasingly complex world.
- Pursue effectiveness over efficiency
- Develop shared consciousness
- Develop empowered execution
The purpose of our organization was to help IT leaders improve their organizations. It was never to be the most efficient company in the world and quite often the pursuit of efficiency can take us in a direction counter to our purpose. In other words, we need to focus on doing the right things (effectiveness) and not just doing things right (efficiency).
Our team would need to have a shared consciousness where information was available and freely flowing in real time. This would allow us to be more effective than where information was on a need-to-know basis or only flowing in siloed functions and departments.
The third component, empowered execution brings it all together, so decisions are fast and widespread instead of slow and concentrated at the top. Each of these components are explored further below including how Allari has implemented each over the last few years.
Effectiveness over Efficiency
Allari has not been immune to the pursuit of efficiency. In the Application Managed Service arena maximizing resource utilization by minimizing inputs and maximizing outputs are the norm. Following the Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford principles in work specialization, assembly line production, quality control, top-down management and compartmentalized functions are still popular and can help achieve efficiency goals.
However, developing systems that are focused on this goal was not helping our customers deal with change that happen daily or major changes that may require them to rethink the use of our services. Pursuing efficiency was not always motivating our team, helping them grow professionally or understand our purpose other than maximizing efficiency.
We flipped the model and defined our purpose as helping our customers (IT Leaders and their organizations) become better. That includes matching supply with demand and asking customers to pay only for what was supplied, providing complete transparency in effort, results and costs, and the ability to scale up or down for major growth, disruptions, and decline. We bet on our team and service to keep customers rather than the ball and chain of long-term contracts so customers can get in and out based on their need rather than incorrect predictions made upfront. Then we determined how to best deliver the purpose with people, process, and technology. Most importantly how to ensure the people side composed of leadership and teams that are motivated, focused on the purpose, and growing professionally.
About 2010 we made the decision to not have a traditional office. All our assets were human capital that were not always concentrated geographically, our customers were located across the United Sates and we were early adopters of using software in the cloud for all our business needs. Our office was just a large filling cabinet. We transitioned our headquarters from a physical office into a virtual office and became what is known today as a Distributed Workforce – where there are no central offices and people are located where they already are or would like to be.
Initially, our tools for shared consciousness were Google Suite (primarily email) and GoToMeeting with the typical bandwidth issues experienced 10 years ago. Since then, collaboration tools, bandwidth and management practices have all improved dramatically. Today we use Microsoft O365 and Teams to collaborate via chats, videos, and shared collaborative documents. We have been evolving our culture, leadership, and processes to fully leverage a teams and shared consciousness approach.
We use an IT as-a-Service (ITaaS) model to provide services for our customers. This model is not just providing a body but a Team of domain and technical experts, leaders and support specialists that ensures a total solution regardless of the service needed.
Each team member may only have part of the information needed on their own. We use Teams chat streams with the right team members to share this information to increase effectiveness and speed in delivering our services. So, a chat stream on Production Management will ensure a new request is properly prioritized, assigned and worked on with information from the customer leaders and service manager/dispatcher where conflicts can be resolved in real time.
Through our eight years of working with W.L. Gore we have great insight into the benefits of empowered execution. We have always been a relatively flat organization but still primarily top down in decision making and innovation. Over the last few years, we have been moving towards spreading out the decision-making and innovation. It’s a challenging and never-ending journey.
Initially our ITaaS platform was the link between our customer’s team members to work with our service experts to execute needed IT services on demand. We had a traditional account management role from a sales perspective that would manage the relationship with our primary customer contact (IT Leader, CFO, President) based on the customer’s organization size and structure. It wasn’t a daily role from either side. Our daily service leadership was focused on managing from a transaction centric approach across customers rather than a customer centric focus.
The work was 24/7 involving many different resources and expertise each working at the transaction level. There was not anyone viewing the big picture. Certain trends (both positive and negative) were not being recognized, incidents were resolved but larger problems were not, and improvement opportunities were not being found or communicated to the customer.
So, we invested in a group of leaders who would be customer centric. They would own the day-to-day relationship with several customers. Their role would not only be the customer manager but also project manager, product manager, service manager and team mentor but at the center would be a customer and this leader’s purpose is to make the customer’s IT leader(s) better.
They would determine how to structure their days, communicate with the customer, lead the project, lead the resource team, and communicate to the rest of the Allari team. They would need to advocate when they needed other leaders to help when they could not play the project manager or service manager roles due to time constraints. In turn they would need to help the other customer leaders when needed. We started to share revenue information so they could see trends and determine ways to keep trends going or turn around when they are going in the wrong direction.
The results have been very impressive. Responsiveness, project performance, incident and problem resolution and customer satisfaction have all improved. Existing customers are requesting new services and projects based on the relationship that has been built between our customer leader and the customer’s leadership. This time from the ground up daily rather than exclusively top-down account management style on a quarterly or longer time period. In many cases our customer leader is on daily chats with their customer counterpart working together to improve or solve problems.
Empowering appointed leaders with more agency was the easy part. Next, we want to empower everyone – the resources that are providing the hands-on expertise and services. One way we are doing this is by taking a team of teams approach to solve problems.
We have had similar results with teams taking on implementing health insurance for our Ecuador team, redesigning and improving our 24/7 urgent escalation process, recruiting a 14-person team located globally to take over the full ERP support for our customer which needed to happen in 2 months. We can take on problems that are usually waiting on a handful of leaders at the top of the typical MECE org chart to take on. Instead, get them moving using the untapped leadership capabilities in the larger organization. In turn these new leaders are more motivated, learn more and can contribute more value to Allari and our customers. It’s a win-win cycle that keeps on repeating.
We've moved from a complicated world which can be viewed through a mechanistic perspective where inputs, outputs, predictions, robustness, and efficiency are the words of the day to a complex world that needs to be viewed from a biological perspective where self-organization, adaptation, agility, change and resiliency are the current vocabulary for business success.
Our prospects and customers need to make this change also and our robust IT-as-a-Service platform along with our focus on helping our customer’s IT leaders manage better, our teams approach and technologies for having a shared consciousness and our execution of empowering our people at all levels will help them make the transition.
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Services are delivered via Allari's ITaaS platform.