In the exciting world of Microsoft Cloud Applications, leading firms are fast growing and so need to be very nimble in their approach to resourcing and supporting projects anywhere in the world. Customers can be anywhere and will demand high quality support in their time zone. Cloud9 Insight provides 24/7 global support without the costs of setting up local offices, by hiring skilled consultants via 365 Talent Portal – to give them excellent flexibility at a very affordable cost. We asked Carlene Jackson, CEO at Cloud9 Insight, how she achieves this.
Director, Cloud9 Insight
Location and reach
Global reach, based in UK
What Carlene says:
“365 Talent Portal will be our first point of reference for all future consultants needed as our business grows.”
About Cloud9 Insight
Cloud9 Insight is committed to providing businesses with dynamic business application software and innovative software tools for developing, deploying, and maintaining business application software. Our mission is to provide our customers with software products that facilitate the creation of a significant competitive advantage
Cloud9 Insight UK +44 1273 921510
Cloud9 Insight Ireland +353 1 5314 898
Cloud9 Insight Switzerland Phone: +41 4458 02075
What does the organisation do?
Cloud9 Insight is a Global Top Tier Managed Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner – an exciting, fast growing company based in the UK which focusses on helping businesses use Microsoft Cloud applications to reduce IT cost and complexity. Providing specialised solutions based on Microsoft CRM Online and Microsoft Office 365, Cloud9 Insight takes away the traditional worries that IT systems can bring, and enables their clients to focus on what they are in business for – promoting and supporting their products, services and customers.
Finding the right skills in the right place at the right time
Carlene Jackson, CEO at Cloud9 Insight, explains some of her business pressures: “Our customers are usually small and medium businesses who buy directly and through the web, with often very rapid sales cycles, and so projects can spring up at short notice, anywhere in the world. The fast growing nature of the business means that our staff are often very busy with existing work, so sometimes excellent resources, with the right skill sets, living in the right location, need to be found in many cases at very short notice.”
Working with freelancers is obviously one answer to this. However finding good, available contractors (Cloud9 Insight terms them ‘associates’) is hard enough, but when you consider the rapid implementation nature of Cloud9 Insight’s projects, it is very a difficult nut to crack as Carlene explains: “We used to have to contact a lot of agencies, but their costs aside, almost all of them are interested only in scale. They said if it isn’t a continuous large project then they weren’t interested. But SMB is exactly the opposite of that. We needed a better solution than agencies could provide.”
Availability and Quality
Coupled with that need for available resource is a high threshold for quality. Carlene outlines “From my time at IBM, I learned that a high quality threshold for all delivery staff is key to making sure our business can scale. This is essential, and it works very well – one of our guys was Microsoft Apprentice of the Year – but it takes time, so to keep up our momentum, we also need a reliable route to high quality associate staff. 365 Talent Portal provides that route.”
365 Talent Portal is an online network that provides access to Microsoft freelancer profiles, and projects that need them. Focussed only on Microsoft Dynamics contract staff, it is different from traditional agencies in that it does not charge a per man day mark up. Instead, for a low quarterly fee, 365 Talent Portal customers get access to a large database of available consultants which they can segment, find as many freelancers as they need, and contract with them directly. There is no charge apart from the low quarterly fee.
Benefits on both sides
Carlene is very clear about the benefits to her business, and the benefits to the consultants, of the 365 Talent Portal model: “We only ever take on as many associates as we can keep busy to complement our existing people. We always make sure we know their strengths and needs, which helps ensure a good fit of skills and the work life balance they desire. We try to get associates to team up as much as possible, encourage them to share knowledge with each other, and give them access where possible to free training to develop their skills.”
“I think the model is also great for our associates as the ones we work with don’t want to be stuck on a single project for 6 months or more – but prefer variety – and importantly a work life balance to be able to say yes or no to each engagement. You can’t do that through an agency model.
Global cover and rapid development
A great result has been that Cloud9 Insight could set up global cover very quickly. They wanted global coverage for timely support, but also so they could use time zone differences to offer their customers overnight development and bug fixing. Carlene summarises her thinking thus: “By using 365 Talent Portal to set up a network of associates in the Americas, UK, and Australasia, we can offer our entrepreneurial clients the access to the rapid development they need, when they need it. For us of course we know our profit margins will be preserved as there is no cost if the consultant has no billable work at a particular time. Everyone wins.”
Covering Presales via quarterly subscription
As a result of their growth and reputation for success, Cloud9 Insight have been picked by Microsoft to assist their prospective customers in CRM Online trials. “We support Microsoft customers in their trial periods, and speed of engagement is key, so we have to have a scalable solution to augment our existing presales” explains Carlene.
“However, the 365 Talent Portal subscription structure is perfect for this, as they don’t charge a day rate uplift but instead, for a quarterly subscription, we can work with as many people for as long or as little as we need – and this means we can be very flexible on presales as well. Due to the type of associates we work with, they are keen to get involved in presales, which we do on a shared risk and return basis – for example if they do a demo to a prospect and we win the deal, they can invoice us for their time and have first choice on work.”
Overall, Carlene has been delighted with the service and value for money that 365 Talent Portal gives her organisation. We couldn’t summarise it any better than she does:
“365 Talent Portal will be our first point of reference for all future consultants needed as our business grows, and also without hesitation our recommendation to any other partners seeking to scale their team. “ Carlene Jackson, CEO, Cloud9 Insight Ltd, UK