Professional Services (by CIMcloud Implementation Partners)

Overview

CIMcloud Implementation Partners (including the CIM Professional Services group) are companies or individuals that help CIMcloud customers get live and thrive on the CIMcloud platform.  They typically charge for expert labor and can help CIMcloud customers fill some or all of the roles (aka job functions or “hats”) that are involved in running a successful CIM Program (see the Program, Projects, Platform, and Solution (PPPS) Framework).

6 Major Focus Areas of Partners

The following is an introduction to the six (6) major categories of expertise that CIMcloud partners specialize in.  Most CIMcloud partners offer professional services in more than one of these areas.  The key to successful use of partners is to determine which responsibilities areas you can handle in-house vs. the areas that you need some outside help with.  Partners are a great way to get that outside help.

  • Consulting
    • Consulting services include high-level strategy and planning help, called “Program-Level Consulting”.  It also includes very tactical guidance and help with implementation-related tasks like setting up shipping method calculations, setting up a payment process vendor, configuring how taxes will calculate, and turning features on and off on your customer sites.  This is called “Project-Level Consulting”.
  • Project Management
    • Project Management involves 1) making sure the project has a clearly defined (and written) goal, 2) making sure there is a plan that includes the list of tasks (the work) required to get to the goal, and 3) the right team of people that can and will do the work.  Project Managers are responsible for making sure the project outcome is delivered on-time and on-budget.  They are also communicating risk and changes to the key stakeholders (particularly the Program Manager).
  • Content & Data
    • Content and Data services involves supplementing your team in preparing and uploading content / data into the CIMcloud application.  This may include 1) preparing and uploading product catalog data (like descriptions, categories, images, related spec sheets / documents), 2) taking and/or cleaning up product images, 3) preparing and uploading usernames and passwords from a platform being replaced by CIMcloud, or 4) preparing and uploading search engine friendly URL and 301 redirects to maintain search engine positions.
  • Customizations
    • Customizations include any modification to the CIMcloud platform or the ERP data sync that goes beyond the standard configuration that can be accomplished in the Worker Portal (including the CRM Workspace, Product Workspace, Content Workspace, and Settings Workspace).  Customizations might include 1) designing and applying a custom design / site template including the HTML markup and CSS, 2) creating or modifying functionality on the CIMcloud application (i.e. making it do something new or different that it does not do out of the box), and/or 3) adding or modifying the logic or fields of data that sync between your ERP system and CIMcloud.
  • Growth
    • Growth describes all facets of promotion and growing usage of the CIMcloud platform.  This might include 1) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or other digital marketing efforts to help capture more traffic from retail / anonymous customers, 2) providing training tools and materials and promotion to your existing B2B customer base to grow their self-service usage of the B2B portal, and/or 3) helping with internal employee / rep adoption getting them to use the CRM Workspace for contact management, logging notes, and creating and managing quotes.
  • ERP Sync
    • ERP Sync partners are a special type of partner that provide installation, configuration, and support of the CIMcloud ERP Sync tool for a specific ERP / Accounting software system that they have domain expertise in.  These partners invest by initially writing and maintaining custom software classes (which run in the CIMCloud ERP framework) that allow the CIMcloud ERP sync tool (and associated systems) to sync data with that ERP.  They typically collect installation (“connect”) fees and part of the ongoing monthly fee you pay to CIMcloud.  These fees go towards installing, initially configuring, and supporting the data syncing between your ERP system and CIMcloud.  They also keep the sync classes and definitions up to date for new ERP version releases.  These partners leverage the power of the CIMcloud ERP sync tool, the CIMcloud ERP sync API framework, the CIMcloud ERP sync data monitoring and alarming tools, the CIMcloud ERP sync standard data definitions, and the CIMcloud ERP sync playbook to provide a proven solution for your data syncing.  ERP Sync partners are typically established ERP VARs or Implementation Partners who have made this a standard product & service offering for a specific ERP.

Expertise Areas Organized by PPPS Level

This is a summary of the expertise areas organized by each layer of the PPPS framework.

  • Program-Level Services
    • Program-Level Consulting (Consulting)
  • Project-Level Services
    • Project Planning & Management (Project Management)
    • Project-Level Consulting (Consulting)
    • Content & Data Services (Content & Data)
    • Custom Modifications (Customizations)
      • The CIMcloud Application – Add / modifying features
      • The CIMcloud-ERP Integration – Add / modifying data that syncs between the platform
      • Third Party Plug-in – Installing / integration 3rd party tracking features
      • Third Party Integrations – Moving data between CIMcloud and other applications
  • Solution-Level Services
    • Digital Marketing & SEO (Growth)
    • User Training & Adoption (Growth)
    • Content & Data Services (Content & Data)
    • Custom Modification Support (Customizations)

Description of Expertise Areas

The following diagrams and descriptions provide more details on the types of services CIMcloud Implementation Partners typically provide (in context with the PPPS Framework).  When choosing an Implementation Partner, it is recommended that you have a clear idea of which areas you need help with (vs. the areas that you want to handle in-house / with your own employees).

Program-Level Services

Program-level services focus on 1) making sure you have a clear vision / set of goals for your CIM program, 2) making sure you have the right people / resources in place to fill the needed roles, and 2) making sure you make informed decisions on which projects to take on and what order to do them in.

These services require expertise in the areas highlighted in green:

The following activities are typical “Program-Level” services:

  • Program Roadmap Help – this includes conduction IQ’s (Interaction Questionnaires), interviewing key front line people, and building a prioritized list of business objectives / outcomes moving towards the CIM dream goal (perfect monopoly, perfectly automated).  This includes doing discovery to evaluate potential projects to weigh out the cost vs. risk vs. business benefit of each. The goal with this type of help is defining the objectives / goals for each project and lining them up to maximize returns vs. cost.
  • PPPS Job Function Help – explanation and coaching on the roles (aka job functions or “hats”) involved in running a successful CIM program running the PPPS framework.
  • Platform Consulting – It is typical to have a platform expert available (sometimes called a Solution Architect) to participate in recurring program-level meetings to help quickly determine how feasible (expensive) it would be to expand the capabilities of your solution.  They have deep knowledge of the full feature set that is available as standard on the CIMcloud platform (including features you already have + standard features you can buy).  They can also provide rough ideas of how much cost / effort would be involved in customizations.
  • Scrum Master – this is basically project management for your Program.  It involves 1) organizing & holding meetings, 2) tracking ideas / issues / discussion topics, 3) tracking program-level tasks, and 4) making sure the tasks are getting done.

Project-Level Services

Project-level services focus on making sure approved projects get completed on-scope, on-time, and on-budget.  In short, every project should have a clear goal, a plan to hit the goal, and people in place to manage the plan and execute the work.  Status reports and changes should be communicated to the appropriate parties along the way.

Projects are approved by the Program Manager and include clearly stated (in writing) goals / desired outcomes.

The follow is a list of some of the typical types of project-level services provided by CIMcloud Implementation Partners.

Project Planning & Management

This is helping making sure the project gets done (on time and on budget). It includes

These services require expertise in the areas highlighted in green:

Project-Level Consulting

This involves helping with overall implementation efforts inside the Content, Product, and Settings Workspaces in CIMclould. This is typically reactive work (when questions / issues come up) and can be the catch-all for everything. This is generally handled as follows:

  • Issues List (To Identify, Discuss, Solve) – A central list of issues / questions / discussion topics is kept (all can contribute to it) by the Project Manager. The consultant gets on calls (can be recurring or ad-hoc) to discuss the topics. The discussions result in:
    • Resolution – A resolution / answer is gained on the call and no further actions are required by the consultant.
    • Tasks / Project – A discrete task(s) is identified and to be done after the call. This might involve bringing in another resource or the consultant doing it themselves.
    • Parked – A decision not to take further action
  • Tasks / Projects – These are tasks / to do’s that get added to the project plan.

These services require expertise in the areas highlighted in green:

Content & Data Services

This involves supplementing your team in preparing and uploading content / data into the CIMcloud application.  Examples include 1) preparing and uploading product catalog data (like descriptions, categories, images, related spec sheets / documents), 2) preparing and uploading usernames and passwords from a platform being replaced by CIMcloud, or 3) preparing and uploading search engine friendly URL and 301 redirects to maintain search engine positions.

Solution-Level Services

These are services related to 1) day-to-day operations of your solution, or 2) growing adoption and usage of the platform, or 3) managing/supporting customizations.

Typical services include:

  1. Digital Marketing – Including on-application and off-application work (email marketing, search engine optimization, etc).
  2. User (Customers & Reps) Training & Adoption – Including promoting the platform to your customers and employees, assisting with onboarding & training, collecting feedback, and determining ways to address issues / continue improving adoption.
  3. Customizations – Including support and stabilizing custom modifications and address any compatibility issues that come up on new CIMcloud releases / versions.
  4. Training a New Operators/Implementers – Including any training involved when a new operator of the solution comes into play (typically due to employee turnover and/or changes in job titles/positions).

Platform Services (By CIMcloud SaaS Operations)

For reference, the CIMcloud SaaS division provides educational materials (written and video documents) to 1) help customers understand the CIMcloud platform (what it can do + how to implement it), and 2) learn best practices related to running a CIM program, projects, and your solution.  The CIMcloud SaaS division does not provide 1-1 consulting or project management.

CIMcloud tools are provided in the areas highlighted in green to help you establish expertise.

 

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