One of our favorite expressions throughout the halls of Herman Pro and Herman-IS is "We strive to help our integrator partners say yes to more business."
I'll go ahead and end the plug for Herman here, but I want everyone to know that we genuinely believe in empowering partners to say yes more often.
Of course in the integration business, saying yes is often a byproduct of many circumstances.
For instance, an opportunity to provide integration services for one of your customer pops up but the job is significant and the work needs to be completed next week. This last minute job popped up because the CEO is meeting your largest client next week and the boardroom AV is outdated. This has turned what was a project on hold just yesterday into a must get done next week scenario.
If this is your company, what do you do?
Well first you have a hold lot of items to look at such as...
- What is the size and scope of the project?
- Do we have engineering resources available?
- Can we get the equipment on time?
- Do we have installers ready and able?
Now let's say that the project is very doable and the equipment can be had on a quick turn around. Now it just comes down to having the available resources. Now if you are lucky enough to have a staff of extra engineers, programmers and installers just hanging around then you are in luck. Now of course you are also probably in trouble because having those types of resources just hanging out is usually tough to justify financially. Bottom line is you almost never have an extra everything (engineer, programmer, installation crew) just hanging around. So what is the protocol for creating human resources when you need them?
The Art of Outsourcing Labor
For integrators today there are 3 primary areas of labor where resources often become scarce.
- Engineering: Those that can design, validate, and create documentation for projects
- Installers: Those that can physically wire, install equipment, test and troubleshoot
- Programmers: Those that can bring the technology to life (Control Systems, Audio DSP, Video Conferencing Etc)
In a perfect world you would have an abundance of each on staff, but financially that is almost impossible. So the second choice would be to have on-demand resources. This is a nice idea, but since those that can do this type of work are hard to come by having them at a moments notice can be tough.
The Trick? Well maybe less an art form than just good business planning is to have the largest rolodex of qualified outsource labor possible.
By partnering with firms that can provide the engineering, programming and labor you are in the drivers seat because they can help you to turnkey your project. However, sometimes you may have to piece meal the team together to get the quick turn project complete on time. With that in mind, here are some important steps every integrator can benefit from following.
- Set up relationships with many outsource labor, programming and design firms ahead of when you need them.
- Understand which firms offer which capabilities so you can quickly source each as needed.
- When the quick turn project comes up, look first to a single source to meet all of your resource requirements.
- Have as much information as possible prepared for your project(s) so you can get the most accurate quote possible.
- If at all possible, set up a single point of contact within your company for all outsource partners (Ideally a project manager)
- Communicate proactively: Short turn projects are super stressful but can be great profit makers as well. By communicating often and being proactive you can improve your chances of project success.
Outsourced labor partners can be key to your company saying yes more often, however when it comes to short timeline projects it is preparation and communication that are key to making outsourced relationships work.
Do you have your design, labor and programming partners lined up? If you are looking for another great partner, we would love to hear from you to see how we can help?