ClearTalk

Solutions360

ClearTalk is a podcast where Solutions360 chats with industry thought leaders about best practices, strategy and insights within the Integration industry. read less
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Episodes

Mastering Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Jun 7 2024
Mastering Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
In this episode of ClearTalk, Roman Burchart, VP of Operations at Solutions360, hosts John Lyall, Customer Success Manager, to delve into the critical topics of disaster recovery and business continuity. They explore how companies often overlook these areas until an emergency strikes, emphasizing the importance of being prepared for any disruptive event that could affect business operations.Roman and John discuss the differences between disaster recovery, which traditionally focuses on restoring IT functions like data recovery from hardware failures, and the broader scope of business continuity, which aims to maintain operational integrity no matter the external pressures, from cyberattacks to natural disasters.Throughout the discussion, they share insights on how businesses can create resilient plans that ensure effective communication and operational functionality during crises. This involves not just IT teams, but training staff across all departments to understand and execute the company's contingency strategies effectively. The conversation highlights the need for regular updates, testing of disaster recovery and business continuity plans, and a proactive approach to managing potential threats to maintain trust and reliability among customers and stakeholders.To learn more about how Solutions360 can help you run your business more effectively, click this link to connect with us: https://www.solutions360.com/our-mission-is-to-become-our-customers-most-valued-business-partner/
Fortifying Cybersecurity - Strategies and Challenges in the AI Era
Apr 16 2024
Fortifying Cybersecurity - Strategies and Challenges in the AI Era
In this episode of the ClearTalk Podcast, Mack Graham engages with Tofiq Indawala, Director of Consulting for Solutions360, in a deep dive into cybersecurity, a critical issue for modern businesses. They discuss the common cyber threats like phishing, ransomware, and IoT vulnerabilities, particularly focusing on the challenges faced by integrators who are increasingly adding internet-connected devices to their networks.Tofiq underscores the importance of employee education on recognizing and handling potential cyber threats as a crucial line of defense. He details the concept of "security by design" within the development and implementation of ERP solutions, emphasizing the necessity of integrating security at every level of system design and operation—from user permissions and data storage to secure data transfer and robust backup strategies.The conversation also explores the impact of AI and machine learning on cybersecurity, highlighting both the new challenges and opportunities these technologies present. They discuss how AI can enhance threat detection and response within organizations but also how it can be used maliciously to automate attacks.Overall, the episode covers essential strategies for securing remote access, fostering a cybersecurity-aware culture among employees, and the ongoing importance of adapting to the evolving landscape of threats, especially in the context of increasing AI capabilities.
What Is Closed-Loop Estimating?
Feb 15 2023
What Is Closed-Loop Estimating?
On this episode of ClearTalk, Brad Malone, VP of Professional Services at Solutions360, joins CEO, Brad Dempsey, to discuss closed-loop estimating.In simple terms, closed-loop estimating is the feedback loop from lessons learned from each project so they can be incorporated in future estimates, setting them up to be more accurate and profitable.There are always similarities along with uniqueness across all projects, and there are lessons to be learned from both aspects. “When we have similarities, we can fine tune our estimates, and when we have uniqueness or risk, we can figure out how much contingency we’ll need,” Malone explains. “It's really a learning process.”All of this relates to LEAN principles and six sigma, which Navigate encourages integrators to adopt.“The way I look at Lean is about getting rid of waste, and drama, and really streamlining processes,” says Malone. I always use the metaphor of Michelangelo and David. How did Michelangelo carve David? Well, he just took away everything that wasn't David.”Conversely, 6 Sigma is about variation - the more similar your projects are, the more you can look at reducing the variation. By embracing these concepts, Navigate finds integrators can save 20% to 30% of their labor on a project.Also on the podcast:What are the prerequisites for implementing closed-loop estimating.Why you should not wait until the end of a project to go back and look at the original estimate.How to develop the process to estimate the way you actually run a project.
4 More Reasons Why You Should Have a Budget for Your Integration Business
Jan 18 2023
4 More Reasons Why You Should Have a Budget for Your Integration Business
On this episode of ClearTalk, our President, Joel Harris, is once again joined by Eric Morris, CFO at Wayne Automatic for PART 2 of this discussion on why budgeting is important for the success of your integration business.  The pair also covers many best practices for using your budget as a tool throughout the year, as opposed to creating a budget and putting it on the shelf.It may be a bit cliché, but they say that when you set goals, they need to be SMART, and it’s the same thing with your budget. Your budget needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Centered.” Eric MorrisOur experts answer many important questions including:- Why should you always be challenging your assumptions?- How can an integration company build a revenue budget?- Why is it important to triangulate your work against as many data points as possible- Why you need to schedule budget review meetings“Remember, budgeting is an iterative process, and nobody gets it right. We just keep after it and get a little bit better each time,” says Morris. “My company, like everyone else, still has a lot to learn, but we hope we get better with each turn of the crank.” It’s important to be precise in your assumptions. If you want to increase gross profits, how are you going to accomplish that? Optimism is good, but slogans, like Buy Better, don’t help you increase gross profits. “You can’t assume that we can just magically work really hard so our gross margin will increase, and, by golly, we’re going to do better next year,” Morris reports. “You have to be realistic and keep challenging the assumptions.”Our goal is that when you walk away from this podcast you will create a SMART budget for your integration business. “Because if you don't manage your business differently, the results are not going to be different,” says Harris. Listen to Part One of this podcast – ClearTalk 25: 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Budget for Your Integration Business
4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Budget for Your Integration Business
Dec 14 2022
4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Budget for Your Integration Business
On this episode of ClearTalk, our President, Joel Harris, is joined by Eric Morris, CFO at Wayne Automatic to discuss why budgeting is important for the success of your integration business.“You wouldn't go bowling if they covered the pins and you couldn't see how many pins went down. It’s the same thing in this great game of business - you need to know the score.” Eric MorrisMany integration companies are privately held family-owned business, and many of these businesses, in Solutions360’s experience, think budgeting is just for corporate businesses, or something to present to a bank.However, a budget is a tool that integrators can use in their day-to-day or operational oversight. It’s critical to develop a budget that you can use throughout the year to help monitor and measure your success. “The most important thing about budgeting is to help you do course correction,” says Morris. “But if you haven’t set a course, you can't do a course correction, no matter whether you're publicly held or privately held.”Events change rapidly, particularly in the environment we’re in today. Integrators need to know when to pivot. But if you don't first establish what direction you're headed, you can't measure when you're out of sync with the planned outcome. Plus, you lack the ability to pivot quickly when you're not in sync with the planned outcome.Do you have a 2023 budget for your integration business?Solutions360 hears all kinds of excuses that integrators offer for not building a budget. Listen to the podcast as our experts go through the top four excuses along with their top four reasons why all integrators should have a 2023 budget.Convinced that having a budget is a good idea? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this podcast, as we continue the conversation with Best Practices for Creating a Budget.Don’t miss this episode if you want your integration business to grow and thrive!
Positioning Your Integration Business for Recurring Revenue Success
Oct 11 2022
Positioning Your Integration Business for Recurring Revenue Success
On this episode of ClearTalk, John Graham is joined by Tyler Ebnet from Revenueify, a fellow NSCA Membership Advisory Council member.At last month’s Pivot to Profit, a big topic of conversation was the frustration around the slow uptake of managed services programs. It is clear that integrators have the desire and the will to make the transformation to a recurring revenue model, but they are running into roadblocks.The pair discuss many practical and tactical ways to increase revenue. Without a doubt, specialized sales training is necessary because selling recurring revenue is completely different than a system sale, which is what integrators have selling for many years. One sales training event is not enough. It will take an entire shift of the integrator’s perspective on what the managed services program is going to do.Managed services is a financial strategy. That's really the reason why the end customer buys a managed service program or a subscription, which is completely different than the reason they buy a box that sits on a conference room table. “With a managed service program, it's creating value within the customer’s organization for the long term, and we see a lot of a lot of integrators just not focused on the value of their program, and how to communicate that value proposition to their ideal customer.” Tyler EbnetSolutions360 provide the software tools that help customers support and account for their managed services programs. Q360 provides a roadmap for your salespeople to build RMR. It provides a framework to help your sales team achieve the recurring revenue that many integrators have been looking for over the last several years.How do you take that next step with managed services?How do you move from a project-based culture to a recurring revenue-based culture?What are the differences between integrators that have successfully transitioned to managed services model, and those who have not? Listen to the podcast for all this and much more!
Best Practices to Inflation Proof Your Integration Business
Sep 9 2022
Best Practices to Inflation Proof Your Integration Business
Today, inflation is top of mind for all integrators, with expectations that it will last into 2023 and maybe longer.  We are thrilled to have Matt Barnette, CEO at PSA Security, join Joel Harris on this important episode of ClearTalk, to share some best practices that will help inflation proof your integration business. Protecting yourself as an integrator is more important than ever. Integrators are facing the most competitive market for talent we've seen in years, and with the cost of living rising so fast, it’s placing incredible pressure on wages. What strategies can integrators use to retain talent? Manufacturing costs are going up every day and integrators have seen upwards of 40% to 50% product increases from some suppliers. At the same time, integrators are in the business of selling projects for the future. What happens if you sold a fixed price contract 18 to 24 months ago? The integration channel needs to look at the terms and conditions in their contracts and make sure that they are covered. Prior to the pandemic, the integration industry was embracing just-in-time purchasing to maximize profits. The current supply chain issues have flipped this business model on its head, and suddenly, integrators are having to buy inventory to protect their projects. Some manufacturers have two-to-three-year lead times now. How can integrators protect themselves and help each other with this challenge? Every integrator should have a relationship with their bank, and these are the times when that relationship needs to be solid. This is something that we highly advise even prior to the pandemic, and certainly even more now with what’s going on with inflation. Listen to the full podcast for all this and much more!
3 Strategies to Increase Business Profitability
Aug 11 2022
3 Strategies to Increase Business Profitability
On this episode of ClearTalk, Joel Harris, is joined by Tim Archambault to discuss three strategies to increase profits in your integration business.Increasing profits is a top consideration for all integrators. Prior to joining Solutions360, Tim has worked in a variety of capacities in the integration industry, from data analyst to operations management to sales management. We are thrilled to have him on the podcast to share his expertise and proven methods to help integrators increase profitability.1. Buy more effectivelyIt is more important than every to get the best deal possible from suppliers and cut waste throughout your company.2. Boost productivityBefore you can boost productivity, you have to be able to measure it. It is important to determine the right KPIs that give you visibility into productivity, and then you have a baseline to measure against and monitor progress. What gets measured, gets managed. 3. Find your best customers and sell them moreThe best account executive will be even more effective if they don’t work alone. It is a fascinating story how Tim was able to triple the size of a key customer account by creating a team with a sales engineer, a project manager and customer service working together with the account executive to support that customer.Instead of having one gatekeeper with all the knowledge of that customer, a full team worked to truly understand the core business of that customer. This gave them a foot in the door, which opened more opportunities, and ultimately tripled the revenue from that customer.To paraphrase Zig Ziglar, everyone is in sales. Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if you deal with customers, you are in sales.Listen to the full episode to find out how Tim put all these strategies into practice.
What's All That Noise?
May 17 2022
What's All That Noise?
Why are we busy and what are we doing with our time? “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” Henry David ThoreauWhile it might be funny to think of yourself as an ant, take a look at your daily routine and consider if you’re using your time productively, or merely keeping busy for the sake of being busy. On this episode of ClearTalk, Brad Malone is joined by Jennifer Jackson, Manager of Professional Services at Solutions360 to share some time management strategies that help them be more productive.“Between the two of us, we’ve been project managers for over 50 years, managing a wide range of projects,” says Malone. “And without fail there are people and events trying to drag us down into the quagmire of the day to day.”“A few of my fundamental principles for time management consist of setting a good schedule, as much in advance as possible,” Jackson shares. “Then it’s really important to manage expectations with everybody I work with. And that could be management, customers, or direct reports.”How does Q360 help with time management?"Q360 is a massive tool, and it offers a ton of data to help manage projects and people," Jackson continues. "I have a standard set of reports, workflows and dashboards that I review on a daily and weekly basis, which gives me visibility on all my active projects and their status.""There is also a dedicated project management dashboard that provides direct links to a couple key reports from that dashboard so that PMs can review project labor forecasts, and project revenue cost forecasts."Also on the podcast:• How lists can help you stay on track, or get back on track.• What is the difference between urgent and important?• What is the best way to deal with time stealers?