Enabling Solutions Through Services: How PTC Developed a Model to Scale Professional Services for Solutions Growth

The Role of Professional Services in Creating a Customer-Based Solution

For product-based companies, creating new technologies that improve customer business performance is their main focus.  Whether they produce networking gear, manufacturing equipment, medical equipment, or off-the-shelf software, these companies excel at coming up with the “new-new” – the next generation of their offering that promises improved performance to the customer.

Quite often, however, the sticking point is getting the new technology to work in the customer environment as designed.  This is where the professional services staff jumps on their white horses and heads off to the customer site.  Whether they show up prior to the delivery of the product to conduct pre-implementation analyses or after the implementation is complete, their role is to make sure that the offering delivers the improvements and overall value as promised.

Anyone who has responsibility for designing, creating or marketing solutions knows that an offering morphs from a technology purchase to a viable solution by applying the “secret sauce” that the services teams apply on top of the technology.   Pretty straight-forward so far, right?  Now let’s change the scenario a bit – imagine a rapidly increasing demand for these complex technologies, all of which require advanced professional services support.  How does a company scale its professional services capabilities to meet these customer requirements?

How PTC Ensures Services Leadership for Software-Based Solutions

PTC, a world leader in developing software that helps manufacturers design, develop, and service their products, has “cracked the code” in scaling its professional services to successfully deliver its solutions.  PTC develops software-based solutions for a range of discrete product-oriented purposes, including Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Computer Aided Design (CAD), Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Service Lifecycle Management (SLM).

To support manufacturers across the product lifecycle, PTC has developed 18 specific solution sets. Similar to most other technology-based product companies, ensuring that all of these solutions get the professional services skills and focus they need to meet customer expectations usually creates a major operational and logistical challenge.

Kurt Kuelz, Division Vice President of Global Services, acknowledged that this has been a problem at his company.  The first step that he took in addressing it was to organize their professional services staff into 3 delivery categories:

  • Field-based staff who perform work directly for clients
  • Staff who work offsite on customer problems in solutions centers
  • Sub-contracted professionals who are certified in PTC’s solutions and can be used on an as-needed basis

The next challenge that Kueltz faced was to ensure that they had the right number of staff members, with the right skill sets, available at the right time, within each of these 3 delivery categories.  Here are some of the ways that he and his team dealt with these complications:

  1. Building the domain skills and knowledge. According to Kuelz, this is a never-ending challenge. He has addressed this by:
    • Building up the needed skills and knowledge through intensive training; PTC established what they refer to as its Services Academy, which is an internal training and education center that all professional services staff go through. The programs are highly structured and very rigorous, intended to bring all participants up to the required base levels of capabilities. Through the academy, PTC has been able to establish professional services capabilities which are standard and shared across the world.
    • Sending staff out on multiple engagements with more experienced subject matter experts (SME’s) before they are cut loose to deliver the services themselves; this “mentoring” model has proven to be very effective, with the only drawback being that it is labor intensive.
    • Hiring experienced experts away from other companies in the industry; while these professionals still need time to learn the unique aspects of PTC’s portfolio and implementation processes, they have had a much shorter learning curve than those without direct industry experience.
  2. Matching the professional services skills against an imbalanced solutions portfolio. Some of the offerings are relatively big, broad and well established while others either serve niche markets or are more embryonic. Matching the available professional services resources with the existing and predicted demand requirements of the different solution sets, across all geographies, has been a complex balancing act. Kuelz and his team have dealt with this through highly structured and detailed resource utilization planning tools and methods. “We have our field management team submit a bookings forecast for 6 quarters”, Kuelz said. “Using modelling techniques we are able to define revenue profiles from existing backlog and projected bookings. From these revenue profiles we are then able to define our future capacity requirements”. By having this longer term view of the business, Kuelz is able to work with his management team to proactively develop and deploy the required capacity/skills.
  3. Developing expertise for services engagements where multiple solutions are involved. The professional services staff members who are capable of doing this are considered to be working in “rarefied air” at PTC. These services support the most complex, robust, value-added sales, and consequently they have had the fewest number of professional services staff who are able to work on them since most of the staff only get certified across a limited set of solutions. Kuelz reserves developing the expertise to integrate multiple solutions to his most senior staff resources.
The Major Takeaways

PTC has successfully moved from simply pushing software licenses to selling more value-added enterprise solutions.  This has been an impressive transformation for a company whose origins were in developing a desktop authoring software product.  By being rigorous and disciplined in setting up processes for developing and allocating their delivery resources, the company has been able to keep its solutions promises to its customers.  The result?  Higher and faster growth than the industry average, and increasing customer satisfaction ratings.  It sounds like a winning formula to me.

Comments (1)

Oscar Morales

The beginning of the blog seemed to be an analysis of the solutions model implemented by PTC. The structure on their portfolio of solutions seems to be in a perfect order and segment so that the customer will be able to select the better fit for its problem. But as the reading goes by it centers into the development of talent. On a previous comment at "Solutions Success Story: HP backs solutions rhetoric with organization change and investment", I put out that there's not much information about the role in HR to a solutions implementation. But now with this blog I can see that there's a wide strategy while selecting personnel. Skills, abilities and knowledge are necessary to consider a sales representative on solutions. The combination of them will require the person to solve a customer's problem with a unique approach. As more wide and comprehensive the solution is, more knowledge and flexibility the sales representative has to be. HR, in my perspective, seems to be the team in charged of creating the delivery channel for solutions (sales representatives). And PTC did an outstanding work on identifying all the main issues that could be faced along the implementation.