The Concept of the Timeshare TechFeb 24, 2016
Having worked with so many service companies over the years I've seen and felt the pains of the roller coaster that is the tech workforce. The smaller your company is the more you feel it when someone even gets sick let alone has to part ways with the company. I say you should always know who the next five people you are going to hire, but this only gets you so far. It's a balancing act; we're trying to grow the company without having to buy into a new full time engineer, just so you can comfortably take care of your existing clients and hope to take on a new client, in hopes that we can afford a new engineer, so that we can grow.
I'm a big fan of and proponent of outsourcing what is not our core competency and of getting the help you need to grow your company comfortably. In today's technical world I think it's even easier than every before, and getting easier every day. You just have to have the right mindset. I present the Timeshare Tech concept. I cannot claim or believe that it's my innovation or original idea, I've just got a cool name for it and I've worked out exactly how I would implement it if I were running an IT service company today.
Start with a well maintained service delivery process. Be sure you can track your techs and engineers time fully and you know your service board backlog hours and team efficiency. If you know these, you know exactly how many days it would take you to clear the service board and project board if no new ticket came into the system. When you know this you can also plan a lot farther ahead on projects and large time consuming work.
Be sure you're using a PSA and you are in fact following the Ten Golden Rules of PSA or something close to it. If you're marketing and advertising to get new clients and selling deep into your existing client base then you should have some kind of influx of hours. We're always trying to land a big project or a new client. Here's the roller coaster. The norm is that for a few weeks here and there we have slack hours and the tech efficiency drops because they are rocking on their heels. Then we land something and we hammered and there is no time to do anything but fetch and chase and get tickets knocked down.
Now imagine you have a few very well trusted service providers whom you know, like, and trust. Folks you've met in one of my Coach's Huddle Mastermind Meetings or at an industry event. Let's say you manage to find a few partners who are also as mature as you are. If they really are, you all can be working to fill in the troughs and smooth the peaks of the roller coaster. It does require communications and you do have to have a system. Businesses have been doing this for over a hundred years just so you know.
You look at your backlog on Monday and you see you're about to get handed an ass hat because of a new project or new client. Now if you're going to pass off any work it would and likely should be the things that any competent Level 1 or 2 can do. So you call upon your partners and ask of they have spare tech hours in the following week that you can count on. They look at their backlog and they say yea or nay. Now here is of course where we rely on the true strength of the bond with these partners that have all agreed to participate. If they do have hours, there are two ways to handle it.
First method is to have the designated tech from their company sit in on your “guest” seat of your PSA and just hammer down tickets for x hours and x hours a week. The second method is that if your PSA's are compatible, you pass t he tickets to the other company and they just work them according to their process and they get handled. Yes, this is not nearly as simple as I make it sound but it's really truly possible. People do it all the time. It's the time it takes to get your service delivery to the maturity level required to participate as expected and agreed with partners in the timeshare that takes the longest.
Projects are a little different but here's the just. If you chose to have a tech from the other company help, they work hours and the time is tracked. Or you may chose to have the other company do all the work and just report to your project manager and maybe a team lead. Still another option is to pass the project over to the other company and you just keep your client liaison in on it all.
How do you set the prices and pay? For projects you should start wit the 70-30 percent rule. Whoever lands or produces the project gets 30% and whoever works it gets 70%. Now for hourly work this 70-30 split can also work but I propose a new option. All the companies in the timeshare charge their clients by the quarter, half, or whole hour increment. We all track time in 5 and 15 minute increments, so we pass our worked hours time card to the company we did timeshare work for and we get paid the total hours worked. They charge their client in larger increments than they are being billed so they should still come out ahead. They pay us a special rate that is along the lines of the 70% of what they charge their clients per hour.
Real simple example: We close 8 tickets on the field service desk and it just so happens we log 15 minutes each ticket. We get paid for 15x8=2 hours x 70% of their normal client rate of $100 = $140. Meanwhile they will charge their clients 15 minutes x 8 tickets = 2 hours = $200. Now if they charge in half hour increments they would be billing ½ hour x 8 tickets = 4 hours = $400. it's a win win situation.
OK so someone is going to ask about how we make money if we are on Managed Services. We're not actually charging the client for those hours. Yes, correct. But... It all works out in the wash in the sense that you need someone to help out and you don't want to hire anyone or just get a temp who you don't even know. You want someone who you know or from a trusted partner who you trust. This subject could easily spawn a big long conversation but it's beyond the scope of what I'm laying out here.
OK so that's the basics and yes it requires thought, training, a quality service process, and some trusted partners. Remember that during the industrial revolution giant corporations called each other up and asked for labor help, not just financial help. Get you network rolling and start thinking about how you can build out your dynamically expanding and contracting workforce by leveraging the timeshare tech.
By the way, until you get your Timeshare Tech system online and your partners bound together you should certainly be looking to great companies like Third Tier (www.ThirdTier.net) who provide top level (As in best of breed) outsourced resources to support your growing IT service delivery solutions.
Just a side note: This is not a paid advertisement. I know, like and trust these people. :)
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