Two weeks ago we listed a few of the software tools that give Appirio a competitive advantage. We call these types of applications SaaS-W: Software-as-a-Strategic Weapon. SaaS-W apps help define a company, both to its employees and customers. Below we reveal three more of Appirio’s SaaS-W applications:
1. The Skills to Pay the Bills
For a knowledge worker business, it’s critical to know who-knows-what. The process starts with a Sales Rep working an opportunity. When it looks like the opportunity might be sold, the Sales Rep creates a resource request, which tells our operations people to start looking for the right consultants for the job. All consultants maintain an inventory of their skills and certifications on a quarterly basis. This allows our operations person to find that special consultant who, for example, is a certified in Service Cloud Consultant, speaks fluent Portuguese, and worked in the banking industry.
This skills matrix is a part of our Professional Services Automation (PSA) application, which Appirio has a deep history with, but is a owned and delivered by FinancialForce. It cannot be exaggerated how much of Appirio’s business runs on PSA. From the previously mentioned resource requests, to projects, assignments, time cards, expense reports, and billing, PSA is an enterprise-ready tool to run a services organization.
2. Salesforce Metrics Dashboards
Our Salesforce metrics dashboards help Appirio consultants and customers characterize the amount and types of changes in a Salesforce org. This in turn helps improve our awareness of areas of complexity and potential issues that could result.
After logging into the system, our consultants are presented with an overview of the org they are dealing with in a user-friendly score-card as seen below:
Clicking into the buttons at the bottom of the overview, the consultant can dive into the Quality dashboard where they can see details about test case status, trends in the total lines of code, and a comparison against Appirio customer benchmarks.
Each one of these provides benefits:
- Any failed or invalid test cases alert our consultants who can immediately determine which tests are failing and in take action to create an issue in our system to track the work needed to assess and resolve the problem.
- If overall code coverage is lower than 75% we also raise alerts. Both this and the former item will cause a deployment to production to fail, so both are critical for our teams to be aware of and resolve immediately. Below is one of our charts showing our Top Ten Classes that can be improved.
- The code growth trend (see below) is important to identify whether code is being added late in the project and may cause Quality Assurance risks if the growth doesn’t level off. This helps our technical leads and project managers reduce project risk by being aware of and limiting late code additions during project implementation.
- Finally, the benchmark comparison (see below) helps visualize the overall complexity of the Salesforce org relative to other organizations we’ve measured. Salesforce orgs that have high complexity tend to require more rigorous change management to avoid implementation issues, so this information provides an early warning system for project teams to avoid pitfalls during development. It also helps identify areas that may require attention for refinement and simplification.
There is a lot more depth to this application, but the point is that part of what gives our consultants a competitive advantage is to have more knowledge and visibility into what they are delivering. This results in less risk, and ultimately, happier customers.
3. Dreamforce Champion
Sponsoring and attending a giant conference like Dreamforce is an expensive endeavor. On top of the costs of participating, Appirio, like a lot of big sponsors, sends well over 100 employees. Keeping the team focused on getting the most out of this investment is important, and to that end Appirio developed the Dreamforce Champ application.
Conference attendees use this mobile-ready app to record interactions to accelerate opportunities, new leads, recruitments of new employees, the signing up of new members of our Topcoder community and doing activities to enhance our brand. Each of these activities earns the user points, and a Salesforce.com dashboard is used as a leaderboard. The winner at the end of the very hectic week is crowned “Dreamforce Champ,” but more importantly, Appirio is left with a lot of useful data at the conclusion of the week. This data accelerates our business and quantifies the return on our very heavy Dreamforce investment.
When it comes to running our own business, Appirio takes the advice we give to our clients. From our experience it is clear that custom strategic applications are a key component in driving business success.
By revealing some of our software strategic weapons, we hope that it can spur ideas on how you can use software to win market share, rise above your competition, and deliver a better experience for your customers. The exciting thing is that building strategic applications can be done faster and cheaper than ever before. Contact us and let us know how we can help you start innovating.