Over the last two quarters, TSG has acquired multiple Alfresco clients that had initially purchased both Alfresco software and services from a different Alfresco consulting firm. With Alfresco turning 10 years old, we predict that more and more mature Alfresco customers will be looking “What’s Next” and may consider switching their Alfresco consulting partner. One of the questions from one client in the last RFP process was, “How are you different from other Alfresco consulting firms?” This post will present some of our thoughts gleaned from our clients that have made the switch.
Alfresco Consulting Difference #1 – Our People
Every successful consulting firm can always point to their people as the primary reason for their success. TSG just celebrated our 20th anniversary. Our people have always been our competitive advantage. Some differences when compared to other Alfresco consulting firms include:
- No offshoring/subcontractors – Too many of our competitors like to ship off the development work to overseas or hire subcontractors as needed. Their justification typically centers on cheaper resources or availability. Whether for Alfresco or other work, we have seen that cheaper is not necessarily better. As more and more of our clients rely on Agile development methodologies, we are focused on small and nimble team of a manager, analyst and developers. We find that a tight team of our people working closely with the client is more timely and cost effective than working with off-shore resources or contractors.
- Consistent Teams – We like to keep our managers focused on the relationship both during heavy development and post-deployment support. Rather than a model where a client has to keep a resource busy 100% or risk losing them, our managers balance multiple clients. Our average manager has to juggle at least three different client relationships. A consistent relationship provides for support efficiency and quality and clients appreciate the consistency and relationship. Our clients appreciate the real time experience our managers bring from their other clients.
- Hire and Train rather than just Hire – Our focus on college hiring and training results in consistency and shared experience with Alfresco as well as our products. Rather than a find and hire model that results in inconsistently, our model invests in our hires to provide a consistent quality to our service.
- Management Team – Our management team “huddles” every day for problem solving and staffing. Any issues that clients are experiencing are shared with the team to react quickly to client issues.
Quotes from our clients that have switched to TSG from other Alfresco partners have included:
- Our previous developers were in Serbia and India and never understood what we were trying to do.
- Your people follow-up much quicker and never went “dark” when it came to following-up on our project.
- Your people were excited to work with us and incredibly reliable when we had questions or needed assistance.
- Your people understood insurance and the unique interface and solutions we need to keep our people productive. Your people and software allow you to deliver a better solution quickly with the ability to have the product evolve and adapt.
Alfresco Consulting Difference #2 – Our Products
In addition to providing Alfresco Share customizations or custom development, TSG offers a full range of products and solutions that differentiate our ability to get things done for our clients. Uniquely, our products are available to our community of clients as Visible Source with no software purchase or maintenance cost. Some differences when compared to other Alfresco consulting firms include:
- Alfresco Migration – TSG has over 15 years’ experience with our migration product, OpenMigrate. Initially developed for Documentum, this multi-threaded, high performance software fully supports Alfresco and can be used for a variety of different migration needs including initial migrations and ongoing migrations. Successful migrations to Alfresco have included Documentum, OpenText, FileNet and many other ECM products or custom solutions.
- Alfresco Interface – TSG has over 14 years’ experience with our ECM High Performance Interface, HPI. In addition to providing Alfresco Share experience, HPI allows us to offer a clean, non-custom, configurable interface for many of the unique Search and Case Management needs of our clients.
- Alfresco Annotation and Overlay – Particularly for our insurance and compliance solutions, the ability to provide web-based annotation and overlays are critical components. We can provide these solutions without additional purchases.
Quotes from our clients that have switched to TSG include:
- (Other consulting firm) charged us for a custom search that was expensive and difficult to maintain. TSG was able to configure HPI on our existing content model and replace the custom search in minimal time. We have more capabilities with HPI and a better support model.
- Being able to jump start our project with software fully tested and supported from multiple clients for free is a huge benefit. We like the idea that, as we add features for our need, those features are also being shared with TSG’s client community and fully supported by TSG. With previous efforts, our customizations were ours alone to support.
Alfresco Consulting Difference #3 – Clients and the long-term relationship
TSG focuses on a long-term relationship with our clients rather than a one and done implementation. Some examples include:
- Our first client (in 1996) is still a client today.
- 80-85% or our work in any quarter is for existing clients.
- We hold an annual client briefing for clients (coming up this year on June 6th)
- Our rates have rarely increased in our 20 years.
- We have helped many of our clients through multiple upgrade efforts.
- When initial implementations are struggling, TSG will often invest our own dollars and efforts to maintain a positive long-term relationship.
Helping a client with the here and now while positioning them for the future is the consulting services job of a long-term partner.
Alfresco Consulting Difference #4 – Value Added Reseller versus Reseller
TSG is proud to be a Value Added Reseller (VAR) of Alfresco as well as other software products. While we do sell a lot of Alfresco software and won the partner of the year in 2014 (for selling the most in North America), we recognize that our value add is more than just as a software reseller. We are proud that our software sales are part of an overall relationship that focuses on our services helping our clients to get the most out of their Alfresco subscription. We have put specific rules in place to avoid over selling both our consulting and software resell. Some examples include:
- Estimates – Our estimates are produced by our product managers and technical architects and not by sales. While a low implementation estimate might help push a software sale over the finish line, we have put rules and approvals in place to avoid misleading clients with a low numbers that might get a sale done but hurt the long-term relationship.
- Commission – No one at TSG receives an individual commission for software or consulting sales. As an employee owned company, we as a team all benefit from sales but we do not have any team or individual goals or quotas when it comes to client sales. While we do have bonus goals based on work and overall sales, those goals are set up to reward long-term relationships and repeat work with not individual short-term focus.
Whether a new implementation or adding more to an existing Alfresco implementation, TSG provides unique differences in regards to our people, products, solutions, relationship and sales model.
If you have any other thoughts about how TSG is different, please comment below.