New plans and big goals at Contentserv
BY SOPHIA BLANK
Only a few days left until the end of the year, and 2018 is just around the corner with many exciting projects. However, some news can’t wait. As of November 1st, Holger Schneider has taken over as Head of Operations at Contentserv. In our interview, he discloses which project management goals he has set for 2018.
Mr. Schneider, shortly before the end of the year you took on the position of Head of Operations at Contentserv. How are you incorporating your experiences into the company?
As Head of Operations and a member of the executive board, our own professional services are part of my responsibilities, as well as the operative interface with our partners to ensure that the implementation of projects is successfully realised. I have managed many software and development projects in recent years, and also have a lot of experience in operating applications and their maintenance. I have been familiar with the Contentserv software from a customer point of view since 2007.
To what extent has knowing Contentserv from a customer’s perspective helped you?
Knowing both perspectives helps a lot when it comes to implementation. One of the most important prerequisites for successful project implementation when introducing software is to penetrate and understand the customers’ business processes in order to really be able to support a company with digitalisation. When implementing software projects, it’s important to not only concentrate on oneself, but to approach things with foresight while incorporating every perspective into the consultation.
You just mentioned one of the prerequisites for successful project execution. Can you elaborate further on the pitfalls of software implementation?
It’s an enormous challenge to balance the fine line between standardisation and individualisation. Individualisation depends on the customer’s past. The customer has to be advised in a way that lets you draw on the experience gained so far while optimally meeting requirements. The customers themselves also come into play, as they first have to know their own requirements and be able to communicate these clearly. A lot of companies are currently trying to structure their processes and data and we can help them in this process. The more experience has been gained in previous projects, the more effectively and quickly the design of new projects goes. The other point is standardisation; if implementation follows the standard, then of course its realisation will be quicker and projects will be less prone to failure. Precise project management with success monitoring of all those involved, i.e. us as manufacturers, our implementation partners, and of course of our customers themselves, is therefore a prerequisite to project success. The introduction of a new system is often also an “organisational change”, during which all participants have to come on board the journey to digitalisation, because ultimately, it’s the employees who have to approach things in a new way and who therefore significantly contribute to its success. These changes have to be communicated in a clear and comprehensive manner, so that everyone can be integrated into this change process and it can be quickly implemented.
The process not only involves the customer, their environment and you as the software’s manufacturer, but also partners. What role do these partners play in the implementation process?
At Contentserv we focus on our core competency, software development, while placing all our energy in the system’s further enhancements and quality. When carrying out projects, we therefore rely on experienced partners who are experts in their respective industries and who are therefore excellently acquainted with the challenges of the market. All involved benefit from this strategy, most of all the customer. They gain a product of the highest quality that is also adapted to the company’s current individual requirements. Of course, we are able to completely implement our software with the customer through our professional services, but due to the customer volume that we currently face, in the future we will rely heavily on our implementation partners, as we have already done in the past. The international success of Contentserv and the growing number of customers in the DACH region also requires us to expand our network of partners. We will therefore increasingly focus on partner onboarding as well as our implementation framework (Blue Print).
How does the Blue Print help partners successfully implement projects?
First and foremost, the Blue Print not only supports partners, but all those involved. Its aim is to guarantee a certain level of standardisation during the implementation of Contentserv software, in order to be able to realise the switch to new releases with the least expenditure possible, while also displaying a coherent approach to the project’s execution. This allows us to ensure efficient and sustainable implementation, enabling resource scalability between Contentserv and our partners. New partners in particular benefit from the Blue Print, which provides plenty of information on implementing our software solution.
Can you go into further detail about how the Blue Print is set up in order to enable customer projects to continue to be successfully carried out in future? Could the framework be described as an agile method of project implementation?
The framework essentially consists of three pillars with the aim of successfully implementing a project. The first pillar is a procedure model which demonstrates the phases in which the introduction of a Contentserv product occurs. The procedure model can also ensure the homogenous use of language between the customer, partner and software manufacturer, which makes communication significantly easier. The second part contains checklists, document templates and configuration examples. Templates are provided according to the industry or task, which can then be added to and which don’t have to be restarted anew with every project. The third pillar is closely connected and deals with Best Practices. Contentserv draws on the experiential value of hundreds of projects which produce an incredible amount of Best Practice examples. Assisted by the Blue Print, these experiences continuously flow into further implementations. By sharing our experiences with our partners, who in turn incorporate their knowledge, a large wealth of know-how is created, which benefits future projects and of course our product management. If these standardisation supports from the framework are then combined with specific customer requirements, then nothing is standing in the way of a project’s success.
As a manufacturer of marketing software and technology leader in Product Information Management and Digital Asset Management, Contentserv’s content platform helps improve the everyday marketing work of thousands of international users. Contentserv has been actively involved in the market for over 15 years and draws on the wealth of experience gained through hundreds of projects.