Today I am joined by the Former Head of Platform at Freshbooks, and current President of the Cloud Software Association Mr. Sunir Shah.
Controlling your cloud software stack between clients, stakeholders, and agencies you work with
- How to set up appropriate agency controls and processes around your stack.
- The five most important value propositions of an agency.
- And, what consultants can do now to start owning their clients’ stacks for mutual benefit.
This podcast will be most valuable for internal stack managers, marketing agencies and stack consultants. Without further delay, let’s dive in…
Building a stack is complicated. Hiring agencies is typical because few teams have the full breadth of knowledge to choose and build out the correct stack to scale with. Then what happens when the stack is setup? Who manages billing, security, replacing tools…
So if you represent a product – we’re going to show you how to ensure the stack management is facilitated correctly. If you represent an agency or are a consultant – we’re going to show you how to set up your stack management services.
There is so much that goes into managing an internal team. Here are the essentials to creating and maintaining your stack.
Do the research to ensure you are setting up stack management in the most efficient and secure way. Look out for biases – most agencies/consultants will only work in one stack with few variations. You can overcome biases by interviewing as many people as possible. Target CIOs, CMO’s and CRO’s in your vertical to ask how they are running their stack.
When you have your stack built, add the necessary security, billing, password management, and Data/GDPR compliance systems. Here is what we recommend:
- Capterra, G2crowd for finding new tools
- Appbind, Airtable, Siftery for management
- Lastpass, Okta for passwords
- Blissfully, ToriiHQ for monitoring
- Brinqa for cyber security
- Ecomply, Logicgate for GDPR compliance
Setup appropriate agency controls and processes:
- Identify the responsible Point of Contact for each entity with access and provide them a list of that entity’s users every quarter or six months and ask them to validate the users’ ongoing requirement to have access.
- Automatically revoke access to users who have not accessed any resource in ‘value X’ amount of time and re-enable upon request.
- Request HR or Supplier Management contact you to revoke permissions for contractors or suppliers once their contracts are terminated or allow HR some level of management access to the platform.
The five most important value propositions of an agency:
Sunir laid out a great list of 5 things that every agency should have. These aren’t some basic tips, these are essentials that can make or break an agency.
- Account Management
– Password Management: People will sign up for their own software programs within your company. You can control this by using password managers so you always have control of the software being used in your agency.
- Software Signup Monitors
-There are products such as, Blissfly and Torii HQ, that will scan company emails and credit cards to monitor what products they use while working at your agency. This is another way to maintain order within your stack.
- Bookkeeping/expense management
– Internally or externally, have one credit card that has employee cards attached to it that keeps track of everything. Appbind is a great tool to keep track of all expenses.
- Internal knowledgebase
– Somebody in the agency needs to know how the stack works. The software can get complicated so having a strong human knowledge base is necessary
- HR repository for onboarding/offboarding
Managed services are the ultimate business model:
Clients hired you to take care of a business problem for them (lower anxiety). If you’ve cultivated a software stack that solves this problem for your clients, many clients would be happier that you manage it for them, because you’re the expert. You add value when you:
- Purchase the software
- Set the software up
- Integrate with the rest of their software
- Keep up with product changes
- Monitor costs
- Operate the software
- Train staff
- Provide first-tier support
Specifcally, a team needs all the things any other contractor would provide:
- Buying the necessary materials/software
- G2, softery, airstack, automated.af
- Ask a friend
- Most value in onboarding
- Training staff
- Running campaigns
What consultants can do now to start owning their clients’ stacks:
Let’s say we are helping a yoga studio. They need everything from top to bottom. You will lose value if you just tell the client to buy all the software. With Appbind you will have the ability to buy the necessary elements for the client. You can add markups on each charge as well. To her, you’ll look like a hero with the entire stack purchased easily and simply.
Some of the stack elements you can expect will be Mindbody, Buffer, Activecampaign, Canva, Facebook ads, Adwords, Pinterest Ads, and Influencers.
But how do you build trust here? Some clients are easier to work with than others. One of the biggest problems is convincing clients to onboard more costs. To work around this start by focusing on basic sales. Every step you take that increases revenue will make you more credible and free up more for expenses.
Once you prove yourself to be an expert who can actually create revenue for your client, they will treat you like a rockstar. Then it’s just about staying up to date on the latest updates and consistently optimizing the project.
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