Digitally mature partners tend to stand out due to their operational agility and efficiency. It’s another reason why transformed partners are more profitable and achieve higher margins than their less digitally capable peers. The goal of operational excellence is to increase business performance by continually evolving processes in ways that increase value to customers through responsiveness and innovation.

According to a recent IDC global survey of more than 600 partners, operational efficiency and productivity gains are the key business priorities for the next year. Learn how partners are improving operational efficiencies in the playbook Part 4: Optimizing Operations, in the Microsoft Digital Transformation Series.

 

Automation and operational excellence

Streamlining operations through automation is a key factor in transforming internal processes. The same survey found that more than 60 percent of digitally mature partners have automated functions such as billing, time management, and project management, while only 37 percent of other partners are leveraging these capabilities.

On the customer service side, partners are starting to use artificial intelligence—including chatbots and other automated support systems—to increase efficiency and improve service levels and responsiveness.

Microsoft partner BitTitan leverages automation to evolve its intellectual property. Its MSP Complete solution is an Azure-based IT services automation platform sold to service providers to help automate their assessment, deployment, and management practices.

This subscription-based SaaS solution serves up metrics to help proactively identify and resolve issues and reduce costs through effective people and asset management. It also enables employees to easily document key processes and capture IP in an automated manner.

“Everything we do in the company is automated,” says BitTitan CEO Geeman Yip. “Everything that’s repeated gets automated.”

 

New metrics

In IDC’s global partner survey, operationally transformed partners report greater than 10 percent improvement in key performance indicators over less transformed partners. Those KPIs include customer satisfaction, profitability, productivity, new customer acquisition, recurring revenue, and new industry penetration.

IDC identified 15 key metrics to measure digital transformation performance across five areas, calling out lagging indicators, which measure actual achievement, and leading indicators, which can change before the achievement of the goal:

Best practices become customer solutions

Take a close look at repeatable processes for opportunities to automate and deliver customer solutions. Service-based solutions can provide higher revenue than billable hours, and ongoing commitment to client success—as well as continued investment to further optimize the solution—will expand customer engagement and ROI.

Aligning your operational model with business opportunities directly feeds into your service consumption goals. According to Alex Brown, CEO of Microsoft partner 10th Magnitude, “In the new model, the customer goals and our goals are much more aligned than they were in a traditional consulting model—it’s mutually beneficial.”

It’s important to note that operational efficiencies identified in the ebook are imperative for delivering profitable managed services. When you can track a broad scope of support activities—from help desk tickets, system monitoring, and alert management, to additional project services—you’ll get a better handle on the resources required, which will further help you nurture customer relationships and drive renewals.

Your own governance and regulatory compliance activities can also be a model for a consultative methodology. Delivering an automated solution based your industry expertise in regulatory compliance can be a valuable differentiator.

 

Operational excellence is a long-term evolution

The steps required to improve operational efficiency and agility won’t happen overnight. Digitally mature partners work iteratively toward optimizing processes and continually find better ways to use information and analytics to further automate and improve efficiencies. This means embracing modern technologies to analyze data to understand the changes that should be made.

As you automate and improve agility, it’s important to maintain visibility—both internally and with customers—into the operation of that service and reinforce its value. I recommend standardizing around some of the newer digital KPIs shown above to benchmark your success.

For more on optimizing your operations and digitally transforming all facets of your business, check out our digital transformation ebook series.