Usually service engagements start off as custom pieces of work. Creating a statement of work defines what will be done and an estimate of the labour required is provided along with an hourly rate. After a few service engagements with customers you likely notice common activities in the work. When you see these, you have an opportunity to productize your service.
What does it mean to productize a service?
It means to define an offering with a set of repeatable activities and deliverables that address a common business problem of your customers.
Why would you productize your services?
- It is easier to sell a defined offering that contains specific activities and deliverables rather than custom statements of work
- Standardized delivery means it is easier to train your staff
- Delivery is more efficient since the framework is already defined
- Each time the offering is delivered it gets better through learnings
- It strengthens the credibility of your organization as experts in your field
The company I work for has a specialty in implementing Microsoft Project Server. Virtually every client needs dashboards and reports that show project delivery and resource status. We have implemented many of these over the years and found that the key metrics for delivering projects are similar between companies. Based on our implementation experience and industry standards we have defined and now consistently deliver a standard, repeatable service to define and deliver Project Dashboards for organizations.
Other productization opportunities
Although this example is specific to a specific business function (Project Management), there are common themes of offerings that exist across business functions. Some common offering themes that you can consider for your company include:
- Maturity assessment – Based on your understanding of your industry, investigate and compare your customer along different business functions.
- Business case preparation – Uncover the inefficiencies in an organization that could be addressed with a solution.
- Roadmap – Define a multi-year timeline with key benefits and milestones along a business line or functional area.
Remember these rules
Once you have a general idea of the service you want to productize, consider the following tips when working out the details:
- Fix price the offering. When someone buys a product, they need to know the exact price up front. Even if you are intending to have the offering as a free value-add to a larger purchase – putting a price on it demonstrates the value the customer is getting.
- Constrain the timeline. With a fixed price you want to constrain the timeline so your costs don’t blow up. Be crystal clear which activities occur during the engagement. Identify key milestones and deliverables.
- Base it on previous experience. If you don’t yet have customer experience delivering the service you want to productize, do a trial run with your internal organization or a trusted partner.
- Be clear about the benefits to the customer. Document the value proposition of the offering directed at helping customers understand the
- Specify what you expect from the customer. Indicate who will participate in the offering, how much time is required from them and the types of activities.
- Build supporting documentation. Items such as delivery guides and samples reports help the customer see that you have real intellectual property baked into the offering rather than using them as a guinea pig.
As you productize your service, keep your objective in mind. Will the service be a revenue generator or will it be tool to open doors with customers with the intention of a larger follow-on sale? Depending on the goal, you may market it differently.
Have a look at the types of services you are delivering to your customers today. Pick the most common one to start and apply these rules to productize it.
Craig McQueen leads the Business Intelligence practice for Agora Consulting Partners. He is involved with all aspects of the practice including sales, marketing and delivery. Through his consulting career, he has worked with enterprise customers including TD Bank, Royal Bank, BMO, Rogers Communications and Bell Canada. You can reach Craig at the following email – cmcqueen (at) agorainc dot com.