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23 min read

PODCAST: The Future of Operational Excellence & Employee Performance for Small to Mid-market Companies

Star Talks: Episode 16 with Stellar One and Chassi Panelists: Star Talks is the podcast of small conversations that inspire you to do big things and in this episode Richard Sellar, CEO at Stellar One Consulting, Andrew Zwerner, CEO at Chassi, and Lisa Haggard, Head of Product Strategy at Chassi share their ideas in a live panel discussion about the next frontier in business management technology and how it will democratize peak performance and help small & mid-market companies compete with billion dollar businesses.

Some of the critical questions our panel addressed include:

  • What is missing from business management technologies like ERP & CRM software?
  • What operational data you aren't collecting & how bad is it hurting you?
  • How does your small to mid-market company overcome the disadvantages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic so you can recover, grow, and compete with big business?


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You can also listen to the episode with the panelists here:


Ways to connect with the panel and the Stellar One Team:

Andrew Zwerner (Chassi) - LinkedIn | Website | andrew@chassi.com

Lisa Haggard (Chassi) - LinkedIn  | Website

Richard Sellar (Stellar One) - LinkedIn 

See all Episodes here - Star Talks Podcast

Stellar One Consulting Social Media -  Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

Sam Smith (Episode Host): LinkedIn


Here's the episode transcript:

Welcome to the live panel, how small and mid market businesses can recover and compete with billion dollar companies. My name is Sam Smith and I'm the moderator for today's live panel. Thank you for those that are joining us in streaming live and to those that are watching this recording we are excited to have you here with us today, and if you're not already by the end of this panel, you're going to be pretty thrilled about the impact that this discussion can have on your organization. I'll start with introducing our panelists. Then I'll propose some questions to them. They'll share their perspectives and have an open discussion for about 25 minutes. At the end of the discussion, we'll share how your company can apply for the chassis and stellar one charter program. Please be aware of this chassis and stellar one charter program is only being offered to stellar one customers.

Then we'll open it up to the audience for a live Q and a for our attendees that are joining us live, please type your questions into the chat box and our administrator will queue them up for the panel. So let's get right into it. It's my pleasure to start introducing the panelists today. First we've got Richard cellar, the CEO at stellar one consulting. Richard has been consulting and solution architecting business management technology for 30 years. Most notably Richard was the director of information services at space X, where he led the team that developed and implemented the ERP system that they use to build rockets, launched them into space and land them back on earth today. Richard is the visionary disrupting the way ERP software is packaged, implemented, and supported, and he sits on the SAP North American partner advisory council for SAP business one. Richard, thank you so much for being here today.

Richard: (02:44)
Thank you Sam. Very excited to be here and talk with you and the chassis team about the exciting things they're doing to help small and mid market customers really compete. And the thing that I'm most passionate about is compete with customers that have a big companies that have a lot of resources at their disposal. So what chassis is doing is really giving our customers the opportunity to leverage technologies that are very exciting and things that aren't usually accessible to companies our size.

Awesome. Thanks Richard. Next we've got Andrews Zwerner. Andrew is the CEO of the Phoenix, Arizona based a software as a service startup chassis, which offers a revolutionary technology platform used by manufacturing and distribution businesses and their leaders to intelligently navigate the key operational processes prior to joining chassis. He was the COO and cofounder of the global risk management intelligence services from present. And before becoming an entrepreneur, Andrew served as an intelligence officer in the U S Navy and as a special agent in the federal Bureau of investigation, his public service career focused on the realms of counter terrorism and counter-intelligence while assigned to the Navy's premier special operations unit, the Naval special warfare development group seals he completed. He completed multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2006 to 2009. Andrew. So glad you're here with us today.

Andrew: (04:10)
Hey, thanks Sam. Thanks for having me. Every time I hear that, I always think who is that guy in that weird Mandarin career path? I'd say the one takeaway for our audience members is that I have developed over the course of all that random stuff and affinity for high performance teams and for maximizing potential in an organization. And that's really at the core of what we believe a chassis and what we're doing here today. So we're excited to jump into one with you.

Thanks Andrew. Next we have Lisa Haggard, the director of product strategy at chassis. Lisa believes technology never solves any problems on its own. It's when humans use technology as a tool to help solve real issues for other humans that great products are developed. Lisa has spent the majority of her career studying problems within workforces that typically have a blend of processes, systems, and people using that ever evolving knowledge. She works with engineering teams to craft products that are both technically revolutionary, but specifically catered to the needs of the people using them, whether they're doing product strategy at Cox communications researching and executing poverty relief programs in Malawi, Africa, or helping Carvana blitz scale, their online car business, Lisa has used her love and curiosity of people to be the driving force behind her success. Lisa, so excited to listen to your perspective today.

Lisa: (05:28)
Yeah, I'm really excited. Thanks for having me. As Andrew said, like the thing that we're most passionate about is how to help small to medium businesses really drive lean high performance teams and get that visibility. They need to do that. So I'm excited to talk about that further.

Great. Thank you, Lisa. So if you were not paying attention to up to this point, I encourage you to do so right now, the modern ERP software that you use today, like business one is great for executing transactions and integrating your core business processes into one system, but it does not provide visibility into where your business processes breakdown specifically. It doesn't give you visibility into where your bottlenecks are, how each individual user is performing in the system. What changes can be made, what the operational impacts of changes will be and what the ROI of those changes will produce. So today's panel will be focused on discussing what some are calling the next frontier in business management technology. The discussion today is going to introduce you to technology that will provide an unprecedented level of visibility into your business processes and how that visibility will transform the way that you make business decisions forever. And finally afford a level of performance that even fortune 500 companies struggled to achieve. So Richard, I'll start from the beginning today. Business management technologies like ERP CRM, e-commerce marketing automation, warehouse management, automated process, robotics. They've never been more mature or widely adopted in human history. Shouldn't small and mid market companies be excited about these technologies and how they can enable their business, or is there something missing?

Richard: (07:12)
Well, I think what's been missing to this point has been accessibility for companies in the small to mid market. All those technologies are great and we've adopted pieces of them here and there customers have CRM systems, WMS systems, but really being able to bring it all together into a unified platform and to start looking at their ecosystem as a whole and be able to leverage the information that's in those, in that ecosystem to improve business performance is something that's been pretty elusive to this point. And now that we've started getting more modern tools and we've got innovative companies like chassis out there building creative solutions that the opportunity exists for our customers to really leverage not just the data that's in their systems, but what's happening from a transactional standpoint, how their people interact with the systems to really improve their business performance.

Andrew: (08:04)
I, I think Sam, if I can just add a dovetail on to what Richard was saying is those systems were created for a specific use. So in the instance of a CRM is to basically track a deal through a funnel, right, and close that deal. And for an ERP, this has a bit of an oversimplification, but to track an order as it moves through a system. And ultimately, as we say, all roads lead to the GL, right? So there's a ton of capability and a ton of functionality in the systems but the things that people need for improvement, which we'll get into in a moment, the systems weren't necessarily designed to curate and then elevate that information. So it's important to keep in mind when we talk about what we're doing at chassis it is supplemental to, and not a replacement for those systems.

So Lisa you've we've talked a lack of visibility. You've talked about it a lot, but even more fundamentally, I think we're making the argument that this type of data that's required for the operation of visibility that we're talking about. Isn't really even being collected. Why isn't this type of performance data being collected today?

Lisa: (09:15)
The why is, although I don't know if there's a lot of consensus around it, but from my experience with building solutions, building onto solutions and building custom solutions for operations is that people are usually like a second thought in terms of how do we make when we implement the system successful, what should be really asked is how do we make people successful with this system? And so a lot of the performance metrics that you would typically get, or that you would expect to get are missing because it's more built around it's transactional function, for example make the sales quote, a sales order, and then an invoice. It's not, how do we know when people are struggling with building an order? How do we know if they're very proficient at using the system that takes very different data points than it would be to make sure that those conduits of information are moving through for the order versus how do you measure people?

Lisa: (10:17)
And this isn't ERP systems only this is very systemic. I've worked with Salesforce, I've worked with a number of different CRMs or work adding routing software like Zen desk. And it, it really is just built around. We want to change that. We want it to be built around people being successful with it because when you don't have visibility, you can't manage what you can't see. And if you can't see the performance of your teams, that means that visibility is only accessible by having operations managers running around, watching people checking in on things it's highly inefficient, no one likes that kind of oversight in that way, but without doing that, you're in the dark. So you really don't have that other solution. And so like, why is it? I think a lot of products get focused around engineers solving engineering issues instead of really having products, people looking at it from a human perspective and building out systems that track people's work in a way that their leaders can be successful with managing their teams.

Andrew: (11:23)
I think also Sam, just to add on one, everything Lisa said, but too one of the key terms she mentioned of many was transactional, right? And so these systems are by and large transactional systems in order to do exactly what they're designed for almost erector set like functionality without focusing on what Lisa's talking about is like the people doing the work. And so we think of what we're doing is more of a transformational application of technology rather than a transactional level. 

Andrew given the current macro economic trends, does the need for operational visibility become even more dramatic as a result?

Andrew: (12:04)
Yeah, we would. We'd say so when it's, don't take our word for it. Take, take the word of the customers and the people we're speaking with out in the market. Right. So I would imagine all the attendees here are probably seeing one of two things that have happened in the last couple of months or other, seeing a spike in sales, or maybe even a little bit of an app depending on the market and where you are. Right. So the one thing is that things haven't been exactly the same as they've always been. And so wherever, whichever camp you fall in, whether, Hey, there's, there's a rise in demand. Then having that visibility and understanding your capacity and your ability to actually support a surgeon demand, where do we break down in fulfillment and operations?

Andrew: (12:45)
That's absolutely critical. And the inverse of that is on the other side if there is a bit of an EBID demand and then there's a hit to some revenue and orders it is absolutely critical to understand where the inefficiencies and where the waste and how do we make sure that, that as a business we can intelligently navigate that remove those impediments and get optimal performance out of our team and out of our people. So to both one, make sure you're ensuring you're doing the best you can to get through the EB, but to come out of the other side and a stronger place that's that those are the types of kind of strategic questions and positioning on most of the businesses we're speaking with. Now, we're looking at it

Richard: (13:26)
and I wanted to touch on that point of transactional versus the UI perspective, right? Because all of these systems are very data driven. And the data that we lack is that data about how people are using the system, right. We can look at, well, this order was entered incorrectly. We put all kinds of validations and checks to make sure things go through the process. But those things that we're doing while they make, make the quality of the order better, they may make the processing time much worse. So being able to identify why people are struggling, or why orders fail, not just the fact that data's not being put in correctly or that we don't have all the information we need, it's, who's struggling with it. And what is the root cause of that? And how do we make people more efficient? That's really what is at the heart of this. So that's, what's exciting to me about it.

So we've talked about the problem several customers right now, let's move to the solution. So several customers right now are engaged with chassis in the stellar one charter program, what business processes are being looked at. And what, what leader, what are leaders wanting most? What do they want to see most?

Lisa: (14:40)
Yeah, I'd love to dive into that. I've been working really closely. Our charter program is very much a partnership to learn what the goals and, and challenges that these businesses are facing and what we can do to solve for those and something that just keeps creeping up on a good note, cause we have some assumptions and now we're getting that validated is it's really difficult to make changes in operations and not for the good and, and not have it caused more chaos. And so that puts really people at a standstill in terms of changing processes or anything like that. And when you peel that apart, you also don't know who's doing really well and who's performing poorly. You don't know who to coach. You don't know who's being compliant to the new process is the process of failure or is it compliance to the new process?

Lisa: (15:40)
That's the problem. And there's no way to get visibility into that. So we have two areas that we're mainly focusing on for one customer, they were using service calls for the repair process and the manual amount of, of calculation they'd had to do in their heads caused a lot of issues with quality and not getting full revenue for where they could get more revenue because certain work was not being translated to quotes appropriately. And it's not because the workers were bad workers per say it was because the workflow was pretty easy to Bess up. And so just getting visibility and quantifying, how often is this happening? What would it cost to reach back out to Richard's team and say, Hey, I'm seeing that there's a lot of issues here. Can you help me automate something? And what we're seeing is that these, these automation efforts are actually not that difficult to do on their side.

Lisa: (16:36)
They just need that understanding of where you're struggling. And that's why we love this partnership so much is to give businesses visibility into those struggle spots for them to understand, is this a performance issue? And we're only seeing this with certain individuals or are we seeing this across the board, which is usually a good indication as a process breakdown versus a per a performance issue and separating those two things are very powerful for getting buy in on your teams saying that you're proactive about understanding those things. You're providing better solutions to them to have better workflows and not make their jobs so redundant or so walking on eggshells like, Oh, I hope I type this one thing incorrectly. And then the other area that we're working in is really focused on the quote to cash process. A lot of people have assumptions around my way's the best way, and that might be true.

Lisa: (17:30)
It might not be. And there's really no way for a lot of people to get visibility into who is the most efficient, but not just the most efficient who's the most productive with that work. Does their process end up in higher revenue, less cancellations, less returns. Being able to tie that work to outcomes allows you to not only manage people's performance, but actually measure what kind of impact is this having on my business, which is powerful to share back to your teams, to let them know that the work they do is meaningful. They're not just hammering stuff into a system all day that doesn't have any value. They have value. It's just the system kind of really failed to give that value realization back to them.

Richard: (18:18)
And there are two things that I really love about what you're talking about. Lisa is the first is this is all very objective. There's no subjectivity involved in it. There's no. Well, I think, yeah, there's no, there's no bias that we bring in. You know, I don't think, I think this person's not doing their job well. We know who's efficient, who's productive. Who's able to drive the outcomes that we want in the business. The other interesting thing that you've alluded to a little bit is this concept of visibility. And just by the act of giving people visibility into how they're doing relative to other people, it really changes their mindset. You know, it promotes collaboration and exploration and what, what are you doing differently that I could be doing to improve? And people don't want to be lagging behind the curve or inefficient. They, they want to get better. And by giving them that visibility, objective, visibility to data that they have no way of getting any other way is really, really helps drive some of that performance as well.

Andrew: (19:16)
Big time. We've had a couple of customers just to give two anecdotal examples that might resonate with our attendees. One where the president of business is just says, I know some people are doing better than others beyond that. I don't know who, I don't know how, I don't know how to get the low performers high. I don't know any of that, but I just need to understand what's going on in there. And then another one, who's a an operational leader kind of serves as an interlocutor often between the owner of the business. And then all of the people effectively doing a lot of the work is a wholesale distributor. And per your point, Richard what we're doing with them is providing that empirical objective visibility. So the owner doesn't get a feel for, I don't like the way that person did something and I've got the VP said, well, actually that person's an incredible performer, but so they can create that alignment, right? So demystifying what everybody's doing and providing an objective view, and we'll get into a moment how it works and how it's different than an analytical or a BI product. Cause it's not that that's the core tenant of what we're, you know, the, the, the value deliver we start with as visibility and transparency, so you can understand what's going on

Lisa: (20:24)
And it, and we really haven't tied that to like, well, what does this have to do with competing with big business? Right? So to give an example, I'm from, sorry, if that's later down the line, so like this, I'm sorry, this is where it just comes together. Big business can measure massive amount of work for a massive workforce. They can afford customer like in house engineering teams, building custom solutions, intelligent work item, routing all this stuff to get that visibility into manage teams a lot tighter. What they don't have in spite of that is the agility of a smaller team.

Lisa: (22:19)
Right? If you have visibility into how your team is performing, if you need to be making changes of roughly, you can do that. If you have visibility into how your teams are performing. So if you marry what we're trying to bring to the table for you, which is that team performance ability compliance outcome, and you have the ability to turn your speed boat way faster than they can turn like the oil tanker, right? You have that ability to get in front of them. And I've already seen real life examples where I've bought something from big business that they are just congested. They can't deliver, they can't get anything through the communications are horrible because they have to change up this whole huge process they've put in place. And then a small business I got from a quilt store, not only gave me the best service I've ever had, but had it there faster. And within two days versus 14 days out somewhere else. So like, if you can make those adjustments, if you can get visibility into it, the, the power of agility can't be lost on small to medium businesses to know that that's something they can tap into. That's extremely powerful.

So we're making the connection here between, you know, how, how is it that this technology can actually help them compete? You know, small, mid market companies compete with the fortune 500 company. So chassis has got charter program going on with stellar one right now, what can a stellar, one customer hope to accomplish with this program and how does it work?

Andrew: (23:55)
Yeah, I'll, I'll take that same. So I'll go from a high level on a, how it works and then back in the hope to accomplish here's a metaphor I like to think of think of it as, almost as a Fitbit, right? Where you're running all of your key processes, the ones that Lisa alluded to on an ERP, whether order to cash, for example we set sensors within that system and we gather activity and take events out of the system that, that business one doesn't natively generate. So we just go collect new information that the system won't tee up and we analyze it and process it in our product and provide that back in an intuitive fashion and intuitive manner how the actual PR and Lisa can add more color on, on that in just a moment, but from a, a a structural point of view, how this works, it's on the screen.

Andrew: (24:46)
It's pretty straightforward. We have a quick 30 minute phone call where Lisa and I, and, and Francesca Belmar are director of customer experience ops, get on a call and get to learn about your business, your priorities, your, you know, your strategic focus and the pain points. And from there, we set up a, a 90 minute process review, which is pretty much a discovery call with the key operational leader or leaders on a customer's team. And they walk through how you use business one and your day to day. And we basically take a look and audit that process. And then we connect into your system. So you go about your business. We develop a quick, easy project plan and show you how we're going to hit those goals. We connect into your system and start measuring that information and providing you insights as they accrue.

Andrew: (25:32)
Lisa, is there anything on the technology piece? Cause I kept going love you want to talk through? Yeah,

Lisa: (25:37)
Yeah. So, so the kinds of insights we're gathering don't exist in SAP business one, which is why power BI Tableau, all these other systems are only using what SAP gives them, which is delayed and it's limited. And there's also just a lot of information that's not there. And so what our, what our technology does is we put in these sensors where we have very, very performing algorithms so that you don't see any performance degradation on the system itself. And we're listening to all these actions, for example. So you can make this tangible when someone starts a form that's not picked up anywhere. Our system picks that up as they're taking actions inside of the system, filling out a sales order, all the line items, no one order is like another. So we actually can get visibility into complexity of orders, which is important to providing metrics that people believe are fair.

Lisa: (26:36)
And in order for them to get buy in, they need to believe that you're factoring in things like that, which is a very different approach than anything out there we're saying to measure, which is why I think it's really been lost on business leaders to leverage tools like that. But it's also very fast. So initially this charter program, we're still building out a front end that you can just log in and see these events coming in real time. I think it's about a five second delay. But we'll work with you initially is we're going to curate all this insights from the data that's being collected as you work, it's no interference to you. And then we start curating. We use our data science teams to say, here's some trends that we're saying, here's some visualizations that we're trying to make it extremely intuitive for your ops manager, to understand for your frontline workers, to understand that we feel like we're motivating the right behaviors. And then when we solidify that over the next couple of months, you're going to have a live application to log into and see all this happening day to day. And so that gives you an idea of what this program looks like. And it's also very limited because we're not doing this for everyone. We're just getting some feedback from, from customers that allows us to learn and productize something before we release it out to everyone else.

Richard: (27:59)
And then on the back end too, we work with the chassis team. They get these wonderful insights and all this data that we don't have access to through the normal course of running business one. And, and then your solution architect sits down with them and we look at what, what changes can be made. What's the impact of those changes? How quickly can those happen? And what we've found so far is those changes are actually usually very easy to implement. And the impact of those changes is very high. So there's know the backend, we're not talking about a big long consulting engagement or reimplementation or anything like that. We're talking about small tweaks to things you're doing to speak in business. One terms, you know, we're using volume usability to make some changes to a form or to automate a few things. And then the improvement we see is tremendous. So it's not like we're driving a bunch of consulting work on the back end. It is really simplifying and adding small things to the process or doing some simple automation to drive a lot of value.

Lisa: (29:05)
On e customer we have makes musical instruments. And something that really resonated with them is we can see not only are we tracking these actions, we can see how repetitive these actions are that give us a sense of which of these processes are right for automation. And, and how do we calculate if we were to automate these things, how much time savings would there be? And what, what really resonated with her is like, I want to allow my people to focus on the things that they're good at. So the less time that they're having to be in business, one, doing all these other things the better, but that needs to be there, right? So she's already, she said, she's changed the priority in which she solves issues with people versus just better technology improvements, but it took her getting visibility into that in order to know how to prioritize it,

If you are interested in learning more, or you'd like to get started with the the charter program send an email to me, sam@stellaroneconsulting.com. I'd be more than happy to link you up with Andrew and Lisa answer any questions that you have and set up a time to talk in more detail and set up that discovery call. That is the first step of the charter program. Thank you again to all of our attendees and thank you so much to our panelists for joining us today. Great, awesome discussion and really excited to see how things materialize and continue forward.

If you'd like to suggest a guest, be a guest yourself, or if you have something to say, leave a comment below or send your message to StarTalks@StellarOneConsulting.com.

The Stellar One Team

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