The way we purchase goods and services has evolved dramatically over the years.
From corner shops where storekeepers, following our directions, would select and happily pack goods with no fuss and a friendly smile, to the superstore boom of the 1960s, to today’s world of self-serve and pay without any human interaction at all.
Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution.Aristotle
Dominic Maher sat down with Anthony Aughterson, Director of SAP Consulting and discussed what the desirable level of professionalism, needed within the independent consultancy business, should be. With input from members of the Keytree senior management team, the message is clear. There are many large vendors out there that will overwhelm – what a client often wants are:
- High-quality solutions and deliverables with no unnecessary overheads
- Service providers who listen and solve problems in the way best suited to each situation
At Keytree, we believe that customer excellence is about professionalism at every level. We ensure our clients are given the highest level of service; that is essential to our company ethos.
But, first, let’s ask the question: What is professionalism?
Does it mean to wear a fancy, well-tailored suit, shirt and tie or is it something else? We are aware of ethics and professional standards, but it is something simpler. In today’s world, business is all about computers and technology. Our world is being transformed by new ways of working with technology, and that’s changing the face of every industry. This continual transformation in all organisations brings responsibilities.
The ACM/IEEE-CS (Task Force on Software Engineering Ethics and Professional) recommends that all work completed should follow a set of rules and guidelines. These range from acting in the public interest to maintaining the integrity and independence of the profession. It also highlights the need for professionalism but does this include how one presents oneself?
“Wearing a shirt and tie does not mean professionalism to me,” said Anthony Aughterson, co-founder and Director of SAP Consulting at Keytree. He added: “Professionalism means treating your customer with respect because then you can have a relationship.”
You have to listen to what clients are saying, and then you can design and build something that they are asking for – there is a whole world of skill around that. Some people have that natural ability, and some don’t.
Where this becomes significant is when you reflect on the extent these drivers are being impacted by the emergence of the digital workplace.
At times, professionalism also means understanding and sensitivity towards a client, taking into account cultural perspectives and other concerns. Working on site at a leading law firm, for example, will come with different needs – and require a different type of professionalism – than working on site at a school or retail business. Anthony said: “If we are dealing with one of Europe’s largest law firms, we have to behave in a certain way, and that is part of the consultancy. It’s knowing your audience and addressing accordingly.”
Dan McNamara, CEO at Keytree went a little further. He said: “Professionalism is caring about the value of what you do.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the internet first became a common feature in the workplace. Now we have the cloud, SaaS and the start-up culture of growing fast and succeed or fail.
Dan explained that, while the industry has changed massively, it hasn’t matured. He said: “Delivering excellence is doing a good job with the right tools, the right approach and without self-interest playing too much of a role.”
Keytree is a business like any other business and has to win over clients. But Keytree has got to give good advice to our customers, even if that advice might not be in our favour in the short term. “Trust is everything and people know you are going to do a good job,” Dan said. “Know you are not going to give up until you have done an excellent job. That’s how Keytree got to where it is today.”
The bottom line is being able to meet your project deadlines. Therefore, the overall delivery of the project is professionalism. You could be wearing a pair of shorts or a suit and tie – that’s irrelevant. It’s the delivery that defines how professional you are.
Staying ahead of the competition
The competitive landscape is always changing, and Keytree has helped many clients succeed where some bigger players in this field have failed. Listening to our customers and applying Keytree professionalism at every level helps us staying ahead of the competition.
Keytree has a substantial client base that is growing. The continual focus on excellent customer service also means that our reputation is growing within the SAP community. We never underestimate the importance of understanding you as a client and demonstrate this through every interaction with the highest level of professionalism.
Competitors come in different sizes with different specialties. There are organisations in the SAP world with sizes similar to ours but we compete with big guys.
Keytree believes that the quality of what we do, how committed we are to getting it right and doing a better job is an essential part of delivering excellence. Otherwise, we understand, customers will go elsewhere.
“You have to be five times better to be considered the same,” Dan said. “We don’t have any particular competitor.”
It is imperative that we differentiate ourselves by the quality of what we do – things like design and infrastructure. Compared to us, large organisations just can’t be as nimble in putting together a team of experts; if they have to have several different practices working together, flexibility and agile operations become almost impossible.
Trying to get a digital agency to work with an enterprise software team is challenging, as these two very distinct types of organisations often do not mesh well together. Keytree, however, makes it work.
James Woodhouse, COO at Keytree sums it up perfectly. He said: “It’s an attitude. It’s about doing the right thing at the right time. It’s about not leaving something hanging on a Friday night, and not leaving something broken before you head off for the weekend.”