How can smaller companies scale their technical needs?
13/07/2022 |

How can smaller companies scale their technical needs?

If customers are regularly waiting for a response or applicants don't know the status of their application, it's probably time to look at process improvements and tools that can relieve employees of some of the administrative overload.

How can smaller companies scale their technical needs

In our latest OTRS podcast, Andreas Bender talks about how smaller companies can scale their technical solutions to better support business processes and growth.

As a means of introduction, Andreas’ journey at OTRS began 10 years ago when he joined OTRS Group as a consultant. Today, he is Vice President Consulting. This means he is responsible for all consulting services such as our training program; process and web service design workshops; and managing both customer and internal projects. His focus is on the continuous review of processes and services to meet future challenges.

Andreas lives in a village in the Taunus region near Frankfurt, is married and has a young son. When he was about 10 years old, he got his first PC with an unbelievable 16 MB memory and a huge external floppy drive. So he had practice with “IT” very early on. Later, he turned his passion into a profession and completed various apprenticeships in the technical and commercial fields. After several positions in different software companies, he found joy in helping others to succeed.

Technical Needs of Growing Companies

According to Andreas Bender, the technical requirements of different sized companies depend on the industry in which the respective company operates. An IT company naturally deals with this topic much more intensively and earlier on. For companies that are not active in IT, this happens later as the need for IT grows.

In general, however, startups probably have less need for specified tools, like an HR, ITSM, or a customer service tool. In these very small companies, everything usually runs through traditional office tools in the beginning, such as email or spreadsheets.

At some point, the amount of data is no longer manageable. Requests are missed. Mistakes are made. Tracking becomes a challenge. Now, a professional tool is needed that supports the internal processes.

How do needs of smaller companies differ from those of mid-sized or larger companies?

As per Andreas Bender’s experience, small and medium-sized companies usually want more intensive consulting when they introduce a service management tool like OTRS: learning best practices is important to these teams. This is because, compared to large companies, they have not yet defined all their processes. So they often say, “Please show me your incident process,” when consultants introduce our product.

Larger companies are different and already have concrete expectations of tools and a long list of their requirements. These customers benefit greatly from the high flexibility of OTRS. In addition, the level of automation is extremely important for larger companies.

Why is it important to scale technology as businesses grow?

If tools are not scalable and are limited, the company is also limited. There are a number of things that trigger increased emphasis on technology as companies grow. Andreas Bender suggests that these include:

  • Automating business processes, as mentioned above.
  • The need for stability. IT systems must be designed to be stable, because as the number of customers grows, so will the impact of failure.
  • Keeping pace with industry changes and customer demands. The business world is in a constant state of flux, so you need to be able to flexibly adapt tools, processes and automation if you want to keep up with the competition.
Don't make the same mistakes that others have made before you.
Andreas Bender

How do you know when it’s time to scale technology?

“When we think about purchasing new products or services, we don’t usually need a high level of automation right away,” says Andreas Bender. First of all, we need to gain experience with the tool.

At some point, simply having a tool is not enough. The business concept works, so companies think about hiring more employees to grow. In many cases, that’s the right decision and absolutely fine. It can also be the easier option, because it means that processes don’t need to be adjusted right away.

But, this is also an opportunity to analyze and critically review your own processes. This is usually the moment when tools should also be reviewed, regardless of whether they are file folders or complex IT systems.

Are there any recommendations for scaling processes efficiently?

  1. Business processes and their efficiency should always be kept in mind as a matter of principle.
  2. Identify bottlenecks in the service or production chain. Repetitive tasks are often good places to begin.
  3. Automate or partially automate these tasks – or, at least, make them more efficient with technology in another way. In service management, for example, use forms with mandatory fields to avoid chasing after information. Text templates and knowledge databases can also save a lot of time.

Where can small business owners go for help?

Independent management consulting companies can assist growing companies in establishing and documenting their business processes.

When it comes to purchasing software, however, the best option is typically the software vendor because of their deep skills with the product and quick access to talented resources. For example, at OTRS Group, we provide support for the implementation of our service management solution.

What are the benefits of professional help in scaling business processes?

“Don’t make the same mistakes that others have made before you,” Andreas Bender answers, “There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Among other things, it saves a lot of energy and potential frustration.”

If you’re interested in talking with OTRS experts about improving your service management processes and technology, contact us.

What are the solution scenarios (SOLS) offered by OTRS about?

SOLS is the internal acronym for Solution Scenario, explains Andreas Bender. OTRS has been around for more than 20 years and has become very well known as an IT service management tool. But in recent years we have discovered that a tool like OTRS can also be used in other areas, namely whenever you provide service to your customers or employees. Unfortunately, it is not always that easy for a prospective customer to imagine what is possible and where the limits are without already knowing OTRS very well. For this reason, Andreas Bender started to design the concept of so-called solution scenarios for the most common use cases in 2019. Currently, these are Human Resourcing, Customer Service, IT Service Management and Facility/Office Management.

An out-of-the-box OTRS with predefined setup and processes – what are the benefits?

The scenarios include processes and other customizations so that the system is already tailored to the use case and can, of course, be further customized. Smaller and larger companies benefit from using these solution scenarios because the configurations are based on consulting experience gained in many workshops with existing OTRS customers, explains Andreas Bender.

Another advantage is that these solution scenarios can be deployed very quickly in an immediately usable state – 2-4 hours after the order is received, without a time-consuming design phase, according to Bender. Most of the time, the need for such a system arises earlier than expected and we can quickly provide a solution and adapt OTRS from there in an agile (step-by-step) manner.

How do adapted business processes affect productivity?

According to Andreas Bender, modern and user-friendly software is like a craftsman’s tool. If a saw is old and out of focus, you don’t work very efficiently and get frustrated over time. In this regard, he speaks from his own experience and recalls the weekend when he tried to repair the door of his garbage can.

So as a manager, you have to make sure employees can succeed. In today’s world, outdated hardware and software or inefficient processes are quickly shared on social media and company review portals. In the current job market, no company can afford that.

How can overload be counteracted using processes?

When the workload becomes too much and customers are waiting for a response from support or applicants don’t know what the status of their application is, it’s not a particularly pleasant situation.

If such situations occur again and again in companies, it is probably time to look at both process improvements in general and tools that can ease the process and relieve employees of some of the administrative overload.

Andreas Bender tries to stay organized in such situations and not lose track of what’s open, what can wait and what’s already done. The OTRS software helps him a lot in these times. Because yes, OTRS employees use their own tool for many of their internal processes.

During his time as a consultant, Andreas Bender has heard thousands of requirements related to OTRS and is very grateful for every prospective customer who has thought about what they want before starting a project.

Nevertheless, in the course of the project it sometimes turns out that the solution is not always to be found in the technology or the software alone.

In some cases, we find out together with the customer that adapting the business process is the right way to go.

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