7 ways how ‘Ownership For Results’ can transform Engineering Service Providers into Engineering Service Partners

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Over the past 20+ years of my experience as an Engineering Services Partner for Global Customers, I’ve interacted with several industry leaders. I’ve seen customer expectations from Engineering Service Providers (ESPs) evolve from being a cost-optimizing medium to a value adding alternative. All through this journey, the 5 basic customer needs have remained unaltered. They are…

  • Reduce my (customer personnel’s) re-work on your (ESP’s) deliverables
  • Let me (the customer) know when ‘things’ are going off-track
  • Help me identify the potential risks that my team may have missed
  • Work collaboratively and seamlessly with my personnel
  • We all have problems… help us solve them (and not create more of them…)

I am sure that you (the reader) can add more to the list from your experiences. But, the critical point here is how do we address these ‘basic customer needs’? For starters, we all need to agree that these are elementary and justified expectations from any (potential) customer. There’s nothing ‘unrealistic’ about it, isn’t it?

To me, the answer for all the above needs rests in one common factor… ‘Ownership for Results’. To be honest, most of the ESPs fall way short of expectations on this one factor. The key aspect that we ignore is that our customers serve manufacturing plants, where the stakes are really high. Many-a-times, they may not even have the time to test or check our deliverables before implementing our solutions. Any slack, delay or error (on the part of ESPs) translates into millions of dollars’ worth business loss to the customers.

Here are some tips on how we can improve the ‘Ownership for Result’ quotient in our teams.

Well begun is half done: Invest efforts in understanding the project requirements thoroughly.  Cross-check your understanding with the customer and ensure that you are operating at the same wavelength as they expect you to perform.

Empathise with the customer: Imagine the customer’s business as your own and then extrapolate the effect of your deliverables on their operations.

Add value to create business Impact: The onus is on you to ensure that your deliverables (beyond the agreed Scope of Work (SoW)) create a positive impact for the customer. Remember… SoW is a constraint, but not a limiting factor.

No blame games please…: Don’t blame customer’s personnel for sharing limited information or not supporting you enough throughout the process. The onus is on you to reach-out to your counterparts and be proactive in your efforts of engaging with the customer. Raise the flags at appropriate intervals and ‘think’ from a holistic perspective.

Collaborative team effort holds the key to success: Complete involvement of all team members is paramount to effective delivery. Be confident that individual team members assigned specific tasks are capable of delivering it efficiently.

Eye for Details: Scrutinize every project element from a ‘Devil’s Advocate’ perspective.  Examine every detail as if you are conducting a third party inspection of your own deliverables.

Risk assessment and Mitigation: Global customers are very open to you exposing potential risks of the project well in advance. While you share the potential risks, it is vital that you also provide the allied methods to neutralize the risks wherever possible.

You may be practicing some of these factors in isolation. While some factors may still be trying to find their place in your scheme of things. But, believe me, the whole ‘Customer Experience’ would be different if you are able to integrate all the above factors in your organizational process and culture as a whole. The results would be long-lasting relationships with your customers. Customer will look-up to you as a ‘partner’ in their future-plans and not an ad hoc supplier for sporadic projects.

The difference is ‘You’ the individual working in each team. It takes an integration of all such individual elements with collective ‘Ownership for Results’ to transform an average ESP to a strategic Engineering Services Partner.

Author: Ms. Sushama Telang, COO, Sarla Technologies

About the Author: The Author brings in more than 20 years of experience across customer relationship, delivery management, business and operations in Engineering Services industry. A techno-commercial professional she has steered 100+ projects executed across multiple geographies and business models for Fortune-500 customers.

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  1. Reply

    Interesting thoughts,thanks for sharing this info.

    • Saran Singh
    • November 3, 2016
    Reply

    Agree with the thought there. The question though remains how much of enough is enough? Someone needs to draw a line and check where ownership stops.
    We live in volatile times of extreme pressure on resources and projects and customers can exploit weak service providers.
    Just a thought!

    • Adam
    • November 1, 2016
    Reply

    Interesting thoughts there… The fact of the matter is service providers don’t map the processes in a manner they ought to be. There’s a yawning gap between what is committed and what’s delivered. A lot of burnt fingers around makes it difficult to trust these players.
    Hope ESPs read this article and try to implement some of it.
    Cheers,
    Adam

    • Amit Sharma
    • October 28, 2016
    Reply

    Nice Read!
    Its obvious on the part of customers to expect the service provider to demonstrate ownership for results. However, many ESPs are found wanting on this element. I liked the point highlighted around getting the right set of details at the initial stage.
    ANother point i think can add more value for ownership of result from ESPs’ perspective is setting the right expectations. This helps the customers to know how much to expect and rely.

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