$3.6M Project. 400 Contractors. One Holiday Weekend: A Field Service Success Story
Read how Stuart Williams of Pivot used a Freelance Management System to pull off the seemingly impossible and complete a major project for a Fortune 100 in just one weekend via @workmarket https://bit.ly/2HjRWHw
Welcome to the transcript of our webinar hosted on February 20th, 2019. You can view the 30 minute presentation in its entirety by clicking here. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
Mousa Ackall, VP of Marketing: Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar: $3.6 Million Project - 400 Contractors - One Holiday Weekend: A Field Service Success Story. I’m Mousa Ackall, the V.P. of Marketing here at WorkMarket, an ADP Company, and I'll be moderating today's session. Thanks to all of you for taking some time to join us today. We're going to go just for a quick 30 minutes and try to add as much value to your day as possible. We're excited to be joined by a special guest who I’ll introduce here in a second. But thanks again for taking some time to join us. Quick housekeeping- if you have any questions, we'd like to make this as interactive as possible. Please submit those at the top right-hand corner of your ON24 interface. We'll be moderating those throughout the session. So, if you're inspired or intrigued by something that Stuart or I say, let us know and we'll cover it. But we'll also carve out a couple of minutes at the end of the session to do a little bit of a rapid-fire Q and A with our special guest. Before I introduce him in a second, I just want to thank those of you who are new to WorkMarket. Thanks for taking some time to join us. WorkMarket is an enterprise grade Freelance Management System that helps companies efficiently and compliantly organize, manage and pay their freelancers and contractors. For those of you who are new and interested in learning more, I invite you to visit our website. We've got tons of material on field service best practices, compliance, classification, hybrid workforces and much more.
So again for those of you newcomers thanks for taking some time to join us. For the old timers, thanks again as always for joining us. So hopefully we will give you some helpful and actionable information that you can take back to your colleagues and your peers as well.
Without further ado I want to introduce the special guest, but just a reminder I’m Mousa Ackall, the V.P. of Marketing at WorkMarket, an ADP company, and I am really excited today to be joined by one of our customers, Stuart Williams, the Director of Deployment Services at Pivot Technologies. Stuart, thanks again for taking the time to join us today.
Stuart Williams, Pivot Technologies: Good afternoon everybody. Thanks Mousa for having me.
Mousa: We were just talking before the session and it's snowing here in New York City. I know you guys are getting a ton of rain down in Atlanta, Stuart. So for those of you who are braving the blizzard up here in the Northeast, thanks again and we’re looking to go for about 30 minutes and then send you back to your day.
So, before we get into this incredible project that you all have heard about a little bit now (the title of the webinar) and get into Stuart's personal experience and involvement with the project, let's just make sure we introduce Pivot, who is probably not a household name for many of you but it's certainly a well-known company in the I.T. Service landscape. So, Stuart why don't you just fill us in a little bit and give us a little bit of background.
Stuart: Pivot Technology Solutions is an IT products and services company with services ranging from POS installation and support to datacenter installs and moves. We have over a billion dollars a year in revenue annually. We have coverage across North and South America, Europe, Asia Pacific. We have recently seen a big push in the services side of our business due to reduced marginal products.
This has caused us to become creative in the way we built out our workforce. Pivot by the Numbers- one and a half billion in revenue annually. Expansive global presence across North and South America Europe Asia Pacific. And we're a Cisco platinum partner.
Mousa: Let's talk a little bit about Pivot's approach to service delivery. I know you guys serve some of the biggest companies in the world. Tell us a little bit about the Pivot philosophy around world class service delivery.
Stuart: Pivot currently has five service channels. We have workforce services, managed services, professional services, fulfillment services, and employment services. Through these channels we're able to provide world class service delivery. This model allows us to increase the business agility of ours and our customers business, increase uptime and decrease downtime during sensitive infrastructure transitions, be more predictably scalable both financially and efficiently, and provide a consistent and integrated user experience. This is where WorkMarket comes in and we found that using a full-time employee only workforce was cost prohibitive.
So we settled on a hybrid workforce using a combination of employees and contractors from the WorkMarket platform.
Mousa: Stuart, I like that you alluded to this difference between purely full-time field service and what you call a hybrid workforce which I love and I know a lot of our customers are deploying. What that essentially means is the combination of full-time technicians and what we call freelancer, independent contractor or technician, or 1099 contractors. Some companies also use service providers or partners and other kind of business partners as well. So, when you consider that you know the full spectrum of labor from full-time to freelance and then some kind of partners in the middle as well.
The ability to adapt in real time and deploy resources at a moment's notice for different customers is incredibly important. At the end of the day in field service land, it's all about getting the right person at the right place and at the right time. I think we've seen that a hybrid workforce allows field service companies like Pivot to do that maybe a little bit easier than those without.
So, let's talk a little bit about the project. What this whole webinar is about is a lot of the field service executives we talked to have a challenge of managing their field service workforce. How do you get the right person at the right place at the right time for 400 sites around the country? There's a lot of complexity there making sure that you have skilled technicians who are certified and are pre-vetted. Stuart is going to talk a little bit about how they vetted their technicians using WorkMarket: everything from background checks and drug tests to managing hundreds of contractors. At that scale, ultimately you need software to do that and to do so efficiently and compliantly.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, deploying a freelance workforce or a contractor workforce means that companies need to ensure that those freelancers and contractors are being properly managed and paid and so forth in accordance with federal, state, and local labor laws around contractor compliance. So, Stuart, you know everyone's excited here about this project and this is a remarkable project. True story. I know it's a story you've told to some when you joined us for ADP Analyst Day last fall and I know a lot of the analysts were very impressed. So, we want to give some of the folks on the line, specifically those executives who are managing a field service function, a little bit of insight into this project. Stuart's going to share some specifics and may get a little technical but again we want to make sure that we tell you the full story and give you as much kind of color commentary as possible so without further ado, Stuart, take it away.
Stuart: Thank you, Mousa. We're going to talk about WorkMarket and how we used it to help us win a project in Canada. It is a 3.6-million-dollar project with most of the work performed within a three-day window. Our customer needed a partner who could provide the resources, the PM team, the shipping expertise, and complete the IT infrastructure changeover in three days for 64 sites throughout Canada. The project planning initially took six months. We provided a full lifecycle solution from staging, receiving, configuration, shipping, deployment, and post cutover support for over 7000 devices. Over a three-month span, we started setting up parallel networks and all the sites use the WorkMarket resources and employees from multiple locations across the US. This allowed us to test the networks before the cutover weekend. And we had to have the techs on site to cover the cutover on Memorial Day weekend. These cutovers were performed in multiple different types of locations from manufacturing, distribution, and office sites. Each site had differing requirements for dress code and PPE (personal protective equipment) and we were able to find techs that could provide all of the requirements through the WorkMarket platform.
Some of these sites were only accessible by ferry which provided its own set of logistical hurdles. Some of the devices that we transitioned over the Memorial Day weekend included the following: switches, routers, battery backups, servers, phones, laptops, desktops, time clocks, wireless access points, and handheld scanners.
Mousa: So basically all the IP devices in each one of these sites. Stuart, that's amazing. I want to actually read the slide just for a sec because I know there's a lot of good info there. We do have a question that I want to pull in now because I think it's very relevant based on what we were just saying. The question is from Dan and he said: How did you build the case for a hybrid model and get the buy in internally? Stuart, we hear this a lot. Pivot is obviously an incredibly progressive company that is using innovative technology to kind of outperform their competitors and fan the cutting edge. Not everyone is like you and like Pivot though so what advice would you give to other service executives who understand the value of a hybrid workforce but are having a hard time kind of making the business case internally to their core manager and their senior leadership team? Any input on that based on your own experience?
Stuart: It's all about cost: internal cost as well as cost to the customer. For some of our customers, we don't want to approach using a full Tiger Team where we are using FTEs and traveling to a location to do the work. Earlier last year we did a project in Tampa and we only had a few techs in the Tampa area. We would have either had to hire full time employees for that one specific project and then if we couldn't keep multiple projects going in that area then we've got to do something with those full-time employees. So, what we did was we flew one of our tech leads down there to stay onsite for a couple of weeks and I went down as well for a couple of weeks to train up some WorkMarket contractors.
We got them up and running and when we were done, we were finished with the contractors. We found other work and we didn't have to pay unemployment or deal with the repercussions of hiring FTEs.
Mousa: That's great. Do you think the big takeaway there is kind of the headline that it's all about cost, right? It's really for a field service organization who is dealing with margin pressure and rising costs and intensifying competition and at the end of the day (shocker, right) so it's all about the bottom line. So, this slide I think it's probably one of the most impactful in the entire presentation. I’m going to leave it up for a second. I think that this provides depth and context to the actual project at hand and it allows us to kind of quantify the size and the scope. So, walk us through some of these numbers and call out anything you think is kind of worthwhile that you mentioned, OK?
Stuart: OK. So, over the weekend we used the following to complete this massive undertaking: 428 technicians (70 percent of these coming from WorkMarket) and 20 project managers. There is one or two of these that came from WorkMarket as well 17 professional services consultants. These consultants came from a multiple of our offices from Georgia to Texas to Oklahoma and all over the US. We made 600 documented changes to the BOMs. These build materials changes were all handled internally at our Alpharetta Integration Center. Greater than 200 additional 8-hour shifts were done by our cabin team in Alpharetta. 350 shipments went out of the Cabin Integration Facility with 106 customs exceptions worked through. Greater than 600 assets were deployed.
With WorkMarket, we're able to use each individual's profiles to see what their skill sets were but then we call on each individual just to fill them in and ask them some specific questions about the projects and make sure that they were qualified. The other 30 percent of the technicians came from some alternate means. Some were FTEs that we flew in from locations across the US. We called local providers to source techs and onboarded most of them to the WorkMarket platform. Sourcing through the WorkMarket platform was significantly faster than sourcing through local providers and required less paperwork and documentation. For the ones we had to source outside of WorkMarket, we had to set up differing billing methods, time tracking, and recording for the techs as well as set up a means for the background and drug tests to get that information back to us.
Mousa: A couple of things to unpack there based on what you have presented. Really good stuff. So, of those 428 technicians about 300 (seventy percent) were contractors from WorkMarket. You just said that it was significantly easier and quicker. Going back to the earlier question, how long did it take and how did you find the vetting process? I know you all did interviews as well trying to triple check and vet as well. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Stuart: So for the vetting process we used the Learning Management System. We could send out a test for any of the network techs. We would send out tests to just ask them some simple questions specific to Cisco CLIA, some of the equipment that they were going to be touching, and then it would send the answers back to us. As we were vetting these techs, going through the profiles and using the Learning Management System, we would then build out Labor Clouds for specific skill sets as well as for specific locations. And then once we build out these Labor Clouds we can go back and reuse. We've had multiple projects in the area since then and we can go back to these Labor Clouds and we can pick specific techs out of those Labor Clouds who we want to send work to instead of having to go through the vetting process for new techs again.
Mousa: You know what you just said was incredibly poignant because you are reducing the learning curve. You don't have to go find all over again. You've got a head start on the path project and using the WorkMarket platform you're able to quickly engage those folks again and determine if they're available and they're ready for more work. So that's great. I’ll let you finish your thought there.
Stuart: Just say the overall process took us about a month to interview that many techs and for the test send out and vet them. It was due to the high number of techs.
Mousa: Stuart, I think a lot of people in field service would be pretty happy with that 300 technicians pre-vetted and qualified in a month. You know we've got lots of clients who you know are always looking to recruit new technicians and specifically highly skilled pre-vetted ones which is not as easy as it sounds especially trying to generate you know dozens or hundreds or in your case 300. That's amazing. And the other thing I'd love to hear is when you talk about the 428 number. We did the math. We said 300 WorkMarket contractors. You talked about having some FTEs and you also talked about having some other partners. That perfectly encapsulates the hybrid workforce we were referencing earlier. So that's great. We've got another question though. Pause for a second and leave the numbers up just another minute and we'll move on. This question is from Russell for you. Stuart, he says what did you think about the work quality by the full-time employees versus the freelancers. What did the full FTEs think of the shift to freelance?
Stuart: Most of the time the quality is going to be close. If we do a larger project like this, we will send some of our FTEs on site. That way they can train up the contractors first. We found that it works best if we can send a lead up just to test quality as well as to train up the local techs.
Like that project we mentioned earlier we had one lead on site for a couple of weeks to train them. We did another project last year where we were deploying 6000 computers from a customer site in Kentucky. And during that we had two techs and again myself who traveled out to the site. Myself and another tech trained up two leads to run the project and then once we trained up the two leads, we just made trips every so often to make sure that the quality was still there and that the output was there.
Mousa: Excellent. All right let’s keep going. Stuart, we've got about twelve minutes left. I want to cover a couple more slides and then we'll leave some time for some of the questions flying in. That's great. You've already referenced kind of the impact of WorkMarket. We talked a little bit about the Learning Management System profiled for the contractors. Obviously one of the most important aspects for field service technicians who use contractors is the vetting, right? Can I trust that this person who shows up on a customer site is this professional and fully vetted? I want to let you have kind of free rein on the slide but I think there are people on the line who are probably interested in things. Stuart, what was the most valuable function or feature and what made your life easier?
Stuart: There are several key advantages to WorkMarket. One of the most helpful is using the built-in background and drug testing systems that go through Sterling. That way they can pay for their background, their drug test and then we get the results back through the WorkMarket system. Techs were also able to use the Android and Apple apps to upload deliverables and pictures in real time. So, we had to review the deliverables before sending them over to the customers. Anything from PC placement to network gear placement to site surveys. They go out and make sure there is enough space in the racks for all the gear and tracking location is built into the app. So, we can easily verify whether the tech was on site when they clocked in. So, it'll show you a distance from the address where the tech is when they clock in. One other key advantage to WorkMarket has been the Client Access Portal (CAP). The customer facing portal provided by WorkMarket has been key to winning dispatch business where customers don't want us to come in and build integration into their service now or whatever they're dispatch tool is. The CAP allows customer transparency and ad tech dispatch allowing the customer to see tech information deliverables and all of this information comes to us and we approve before it goes to the customer.
It also allows us to organize techs into skillset and locations. As discussed earlier, this labor file and manage the workforce the different tools such as background checks for the reporting and pay our contractor workforce.
Just a quick recap. We've been using WorkMarket for over two years now and have paid taxes over 1 million dollars last year alone. I've been extremely happy with WorkMarket. We've trialed several other sourcing platforms and partners and have settled on WorkMarket as our primary sourcing partner due to the ease of use and functionality and platform as well as the people. The people we have interacted with at WorkMarket are great. Mousa and our account executive and team have all been great and are wonderful to work with.
Mousa: Thanks, Stuart. I didn't pay him to say that just for those inquiring on the line. No, that's good. That's great. I think I speak for pretty much the entire team when I say we're thrilled to hear that and our entire mission here is to help our customers succeed. Case in point this incredible project. So, thanks for those kind words, Stuart. Let's just do a couple of questions. A couple of quick questions I think that we can knock off really quick. Sucrat wants to know are these freelancers or independent contractors. I think the answer is yes to both. Are we talking about freelance and independent contractor which are interchangeable and obviously the 1099 references the tax form they fill out? Is that correct?
Stuart: That is correct.
Mousa: Excellent. Let's do another one from Sean and then we'll move on to the next kind of webinar. This is a good question to maybe take a second to give us an answer here. Sean wants to know when deploying and coordinating this distributed workforce distributed (that's another great word for hybrid and flexible). What key collaboration functionality does your team use to measure and prevent miscommunication?
Stuart: One of the biggest ones is Smartsheets. We're able to build out Smartsheets with a list of sites as well as text times they need to be on site. Any of the deliverables we can upload to Smartsheets. That way we can build in reporting. So, the customer can have access to all of the same information as well as building the reporting that way. It only shows them what we want them to see and then we have our internal information and things.
Mousa: Good answer and stories. Just a couple of things I want to call out and then we'll move on and I want to open up for Q and A by the way. Thanks everyone for the questions. Love that this is interactive will carve out five minutes here in a second to take a couple more and see how much we can get through.
You see there in the third bullet: mobile geo location. You know I just think it's worth mentioning. WorkMarket has native apps on Android IOS so that the technicians can essentially see the work site and can communicate with the project manager in real time. We've got geo location tools and built in integration with Google Analytics so that is very helpful. Everything from routing right now to what's the quickest way to get to the job site to real time communication. Also being able to take pictures on site of the equipment and send it back in real time. We call those deliverables. I think that's also very helpful for field service when you need to kind of confirm that the deployment was as designed. So those are all great and then let's move on since we're at 1:24. I want to be cognizant of time and make sure that we can cover as much as we want to work. We'll take some questions here in a second so again if you have any questions if you haven't submitted yet or if you have submitted, keep them coming. Great questions so far. We'll take a moment (about one minute). I would just want to add a couple more closing slides and then we will move on.
So again, I'd like to invite any of you who are new to WorkMarket and are interested in learning a little bit more about the software especially if you're managing the field service functions and more especially if you're using freelancers and contractor technicians to help support that service delivery operation. So, you know WorkMarket is an enterprise grade solution. We have the only Freelance Management System on the market with SOC 2 which is incredibly important for cybersecurity so that your technician data and bank information and names are all properly safeguarded. Payment and invoicing are automated and digitized. We have flexible payment options as well. And we offer a Compliance engine. That's a topic that will fill an entire webinar and we've done webinars exclusively on compliance.
We've got tons of literature on the website for those of you interested in best practices on how to classify your freelancers, looking for more information on the IRS 20 Factor Test, and the ABC Test, and so forth. Feel free to visit our website and grab some of that.
Obviously if you're interested in seeing a demo, we'd love to show you under the hood. So, let us know and you can request the demo at www.workmarket.com and find tons of content.
This is one of our flagship reports that we did with an NYU professor about what AI and automation really mean for work. I think the thing most important about this in the context of Stuart's story and Field Services automation is being able to automate so many of those processes from vetting to engaging to managing to paying to rating to sourcing. I mean soup to nuts. Every couple of minutes that you can shave off adds up and we've got some great data in this report that shows you. We actually quantify how much money you could save if you can automate one hour a day for a department of 400 people as well. So, if you're interested in the report please visit the website and grab that.
So, let's get some more Q and A in here, Stuart. We've got a question from Sam on your reference to Service Now earlier. He's interested in learning more about what the integration looks like. I'll just say a quick word on that Stuart and then if you can speak a little bit on that because integration is critically important. Companies more often than not don't use WorkMarket in a vacuum. It connects to their ITSM such asConnectWise, Salesforce, NetSuite, Quickbooks, Service Now, etc.
So Stuart, talk to us a little bit about (if you can) and give us a little bit more detail on the integration and how helpful you found it.
Stuart: We haven't had to use the integration yet. The integration between Service Now and WorkMarket is not something that we've had any requests for from the customer. We have integrated the Client Access Portal though.
Mousa: And for those technical aficionados on the phone, MuleSoft is the company that Salesforce acquired last year for 6 billion and change. So anyway for those of you who are integrations let us know we'll have take that conversation offline. We've got another question from Tom. Is it possible to use WorkMarket tools with our resources or must we use your resources? Tom you can use both. You can find technicians in the WorkMarket platform and we have a marketplace with several hundred thousand technicians, or we have companies that do what we call BYOT and they bring their own talent.
Some companies need to source new talent and other companies have plenty of contractors and freelancers. What they're looking for is a software mechanism and software platform to manage the entire process: find, verify, manage and pay. Hopefully that answers the question. If you need some more info please drop us a line after the call and we'll get you that info.
Stuart, we have a question here. We have a question from Linda. What advice would you give other field service execs evaluating WorkMarket or other freelance managers? I know you spoke highly of WorkMarket. Can you maybe just kind of rewind to when you were getting out and if there is anything you would improve for those executives who are maybe in a buying process or buying cycle starting to evaluate. Anything you would call out that you would recommend they evaluate before they make a decision?
Stuart: So we actually trialed two specific platforms side by side and between the two platforms that we evaluated, we looked at how the money flowed and how you could track the money as well as the availability of techs. Between those two specific platforms, we looked at the money going between the time that you deposit into the account till the time it goes to the techs. It was a lot clearer where that money was going on WorkMarket where the other platform that we trialed wasn't as clear. Every time we would ask a question, we would get a different answer as to how it flows as well as some of the other sourcing partners, we went through higher markup for the tech. With the WorkMarket agreement we have with WorkMarket we get a lesser fee. But with no agreement in place, you get a higher percentage compared to you pay it or the tech pays it. Other sourcing partners don't use contractors and they have a higher markup. So there's a lot higher markup on that talent.
Mousa: That's great and it is what we called a bake off and we certainly invite those of you who are interested in learning about WorkMarket to put us in a bake off. We're very confident in our technology and I think today was a good example of how we're helping some of our customers tackle really complex and ambitious projects as well. So, Stuart, huge thank you again for taking sometime today. I know you're super busy. We're right at 1:30 and I want to be respectful of Stuart's time and everyone else's time as well. So again, big thanks to Stuart for joining us today. I am Mousa Ackall again, theV.P. of marketing here at WorkMarket. I would absolutely love to help in any way that we can. If you have questions about the Stuart story, field service best practices, compliance classification, or WorkMarket in general please feel free to reach out. You can visit our web site. There's my contact information as well. I'll leave this up for a second. It's for those of you who are interested in reaching out again. Thank you all for joining us today especially those of you who are dealing with this little bit of weather up here in the Northeast. Hope we added some value to your day and look forward to absolutely having you on the next one.