Being nimble and responsive to clients
-Ryan Dimick, Senior Director of Development. "Nimble is one of my favorite words when it comes to software development because it’s the opposite of sluggish or clumsy, two words that are often used despairingly by IT Ops personnel to describe software that frustrates them and makes their lives more difficult. Being nimble means being able to move priorities within your product and development roadmaps in order to make sure that your objectives have the highest impact for clients. If you can respond to client requests and solve their challenges, whether that means incorporating their feedback into new product features or scripting custom connectors, then you are nimble. If you cannot do this then you are clumsy, and no one wants to be clumsy."
Responsiveness drives client satisfaction
In our previous blog I talked about how SMA Technologies has a client-driven development team, and that feeds directly into the principle of being nimble and responsive. Over 70% of our new features have come as a result of client feedback, which is a testament to how seriously we take feedback from clients. When they say, “Hey, we really like what OpCon is doing for us, but we think it would be valuable to us if it could do X as well”, we listen to them.
One of our most recent add-ons we’ve begun to offer is called Vision, which is a tool for managing complex environments with OpCon at the enterprise level. Our client, a respected Swiss bank, is using OpCon to control a very complicated series of workflows that span a variety of systems, and they need a single dashboard that would make it easier to manage their automation and ensure delivery of SLAs. We worked directly with their technical staff to create and test a solution that would meet their objectives. By being responsive to our client we were able to do a deep collaboration with them that resulted in a solution that would later become a major add-on that we are now able to offer other clients.
Being nimble and fast
These are two attributes we love having associated with SMA Technologies and our main automation product OpCon. One of the guiding principles that drives OpCon development is to make sure that clients can learn how to become fast on it. It enables agile development because it’s so easy to configure and automate workflows with OpCon. When my team is refining current features or working on new features, we always work to make sure that we aren’t making anything more complicated than it needs to be. When we deliver the feature and the client is thinking about upgrading, they should always have the expectation that the new version of OpCon will enhance their user experience.
The same principle applies to how we design the OpCon UI. A UI should be intuitive to use, should deliver useful information, and should make it simple to access command tools. My team has a “time to value” mindset; we focus on reducing the clicks and actions necessary for a customer to accomplish a goal, whether that be reorganizing a workflow or pulling a report. We try to simplify each screen so that it only shows information and options that are relevant to what the client would be doing in that part of the interface, making it easier for them to navigate OpCon and obtain information quickly.
Achieving faster migrations
The last point I want to hit with this blog is to briefly talk about migrations. Every client considering switching to OpCon has pain points that our software can address, but migration is something different; it’s a point of fear. How long will it take? How much will it cost? Will it break our operations? OpCon’s built-in simplicity and cross compatibility makes these fears considerably smaller dragons to slay. We can typically complete successful migrations in a fraction of the time, with corresponding reductions in costs, as our competitors IBM, BMC, or CA.
Here’s an example. Camaïeu is a women’s clothing retailer in France, and their previous automation tool, IBM Tivoli Workload Scheduler (TWS), was struggling to keep up with the volume of processes. TWS had minimal flexibility, provided no organization to their workflows and was difficult to integrate with other applications. Besides finding something to address the obvious problems, they also knew they wanted to integrate a Self Service portal to reduce the number of requests to the IT department.
When each job and workflow was moved into OpCon, Camaïeu’s IT team assigned tags to organize everything into the most logical business area. Meanwhile, they developed dozens of uses for their Self Service portal which eased the burden on the understaffed IT department.
With OpCon, Camaïeu is finally realizing the speed and agility that they were founded on in 1984. Today, their concept to completion time is only two weeks. They can now control their inventory and promotions and Camaieu’s IT Ops staff no longer feel overwhelmed. That’s the power of OpCon at work.
You can follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter, where I like to share my insights into automation and technology in general. Thanks for taking the time to read this article, I’ve got one more coming up that focuses on what it takes to provide superior technical services to clients.
- Ryan Dimick, Senior Director of Development
About the author: Ryan Dimick is Senior Director of Development at SMA Technologies in Houston, Texas. Over the course of his seven-year tenure at SMA Technologies Ryan has also held positions as Director of Cloud Services, Software Architect, and Sr Business Consultant. He started his career at Corning Credit Union as a user of the OpCon automation platform and held positions in IT Operations and Programming. Ryan loves sports and competition, from ping pong tournaments at the office to running races. He is from New York and is still a huge NY Giants fan. Ryan lives in downtown Houston and is enjoying the constant stream of exciting food and entertainment options.