Scaling any type of company is in many ways about the journey from being a group of generalists to specialists. At the beginning one person or a few people do everything. As meeting the demand for your goods or services grows, more people are added to the team, driving each person towards a specialty. Some become sellers. Some get hired as engineers or project managers. The reason for this specialization is that, if done right, it drives efficiency, quality and predictability in the ultimate deliverable. With a team, projects are not delayed by vacations or sickness, great developers won’t get caught up in administrative communications and see a project timeline slip, focused project managers drive delivery without helping sort out an invoicing issue.
In lower touch businesses this type of transition happens without a lot of client impact. However, in high touch professional services firms like SilverTech, clients immediately noticed this type of evolution. Several years ago, a SilverTech client probably had one, perhaps two, people that they interacted with regularly and were focused on helping them achieve their goals. Today, they probably have an account manager, a project manager and one or more project engineers, strategists and designers all focused on their project and ready to respond if they have a question. On top of this, clients are always welcome to reach out to management if there is an issue with the project.
During this phase of scaling, it becomes even more important to structure the teams correctly and communicate with clients about why ‘more people’ will deliver them better service and better outcomes. With larger teams that have multiple specialists, the project manager role becomes even more important as a key client partner and source of project ‘truth’. The lead project engineer role also becomes critical as the source of technical ‘truth’. Additionally, these key partners must articulate to clients how each person in the SilverTech “machine” is delivering independent value that is efficiently integrated to drive outcomes.
To that end, we recently got a note from a client that reminded us there’s always room for every company to improve.
“We realize that SilverTech is growing fast and processes will need to be ironed out. And instead of the single contact point of the web project, that now project managers, functional spec creators, designers, and developers may now be in the contact mix. This will be ok, but in the near term I wanted to mention a perception that this change has contributed to some inefficiencies.”
It was a great reminder for us. It isn’t just enough to do the right things, we need to explain how the experts we have on staff drive the quality, consistency and efficiency necessary to decrease risks to budget and timeline.