Tag Archive for: excellence


21 Jan
January 21, 2013

Just around Christmas we announced the acquisition of VCOMM, previously a subsidiary of Coms PLC. With all of the integration work that’s going on at the moment work has been pretty busy, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about what this means for my team and I – I’m sure our MD, Steve Harris would have plenty to say on the commercial side,  but I’m going to focus on the technical and service delivery aspects.

Those people who read this blog who are our customers are already familiar with the incredible quality of service that we already offer. We’ve made it a point that any new product we bring on board isn’t sold until we understand the equipment, how to design networks with it, deploy it, configure it, break it, fix it and debug it. We make a point of knowing the products well enough that most of the questions we see are answered within the team and not escalated to the vendor. As a result, we close some 75% of tickets in-house. This has resulted in some interesting feedback including one customer who’s a major UK provider of hosted telephony remarking that he would groan when we said we’d have to escalate to a vendor as he knew it wouldn’t be resolved quickly.

Of course, this kind of knowledge doesn’t happen overnight, so products in the VCOMM range that we don’t know will take a little time to get to that standard, however there’s some crossover there that we can take advantage of immediately. Our ideals and goals that our technical team applies to the work we do will apply equally to the work we do with the VCOMM customers, something I think will benefit everyone in the long run.

Although this isn’t going to have a significant impact on our operations in Siphon immediately we’re working hard to make sure that whatever changes we make are for the better for both companies – and I can tell you that the team is excited by the acquisition and the opportunities it’s going to bring us and our customers!

Driving mediocrity

04 Sep
September 4, 2012

I was in a meeting recently discussing a new business opportunity. As part of the discussion, we were talking about processes by which companies select contracts and the concept of an ebay-style auction which I’d not come across before. When it was explained to me, I was aghast.

If you’re not familiar with the process, it starts quite simply with a Company announcing that they have a project or a purchase to make and requesting people tender. This is pretty normal and a number of companies will respond with details of how they would meet the Company’s requirements and what else they can bring to the table. A team of people will evaluate each of these responses – some will be discarded outright as they don’t meet the requirements. Others will be visited, probed, researched and will answer questions, provide demonstrations and generally invest a large amount of time and money in the process. Eventually a list will be drawn up of those companies that the team believes could technically fulfil the requirements.

Then those short-listed suppliers will get a link to a website. There, they will see the contract they’re bidding for. During a set period, they will bid against each other to win – with the obvious difference from ebay that the lowest bidder wins.

That sounds eminently sensible and fiscally responsible. And, to me, it sounds completely and utterly insane. It’s pushing everyone towards the lowest common denominator; to provide the minimum necessary to clear that bar; telling people not to bother – it’s driving mediocrity.

What am I on about?

When I joined SIPhon I had a purpose – I wanted to make sure that when someone spoke about us, they said “Those guys are awesome”. I wanted people to remember us because we were excellent. Because we did incredible work. Because we helped them to make their service and their company better. I was tired of people saying that VoIP was a poor cousin to traditional communications. That it was a budget technology. I wanted to show that we could make a difference.

So we built a company that did that and did it well. We’re good at what we do. We’re flexible. We’re able to all that because we’ve got good people. And this – all of this – this is what makes us better than the next guy.

But what does any of that matter in this system? So long as we can meet the minimum, why pay more, right?

Have you ever had a business relationship that ended up the same as it started? Relationships grow. Companies grow. Nothing stays the same and you often have no idea where the future will take you. Our best partners are those that learn and grown and help us grow with them. Our best customers are those that learn and grown and let us help them grow. But all that requires flexibility. It requires excellence.

There’s no space in that bidding system for excellence – it just keeps driving mediocrity.

I’m not a specialist on purchasing or business so I might be missing something here – if you know what that is, drop me a line below or email me directly. I’m always happy to learn.