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Scaling Sales Solutions in the Cloud

Posted by on February 20, 2020

Scaling Sales Solution in the Cloud with AWS

How Moving to AWS Resulted in Cost Savings, Global Growth Opportunities & Boosted Team Morale

Time is of the essence. And time, in fact, is money—especially when you have a team of well-compensated, high-tech solution engineers running “proof of concepts” (or POCs) to demonstrate software and clients waiting to see it. Having to wait a long time for a POC environment to be set up is inconvenient, unproductive, and costly.

For Cherwell, the reason behind our time delay was due to the inflexible, on-premise hardware system that limited capacity. Anytime our solution engineering team needed to deliver a POC, images needed to be created and/or a reboot of an instance of the software was required, which meant they had to ask IT for assistance. When the hardware began to fail, the demand on the IT department became overwhelming!

In anticipation of a painful process for team members and, more importantly, for the prospective clients, a solution engineer (SE) often felt less inclined to suggest doing a POC, which could show the solution at work.

With Hardware Unavailable, a Change Had to Be Made

The situation came to a head in early 2019 when our team was informed that we would need to move off of our on-premise hardware system and begin leveraging the cloud within months. Given the increasing problems our team had been encountering, the inconvenience ended up paving the way for a valuable solution.

Our European (EMEA) and Australia Pacific (APAC) Solution Engineers team had some experience using AWS, although in a limited capacity—it was on a case-by-case basis for select POCs, paying per instance without a way to govern spend and with a very manual setup per customer. Even though the POCs run on AWS by the EMEA and APAC teams made up only 10 percent of the POCs run, they accounted for the majority (70 percent) of the cost. In addition, the existing process didn’t alleviate the demand to include IT for setup. Scaling this solution globally did not seem to be a viable option.

Finding a Global Solution That Saves Time and Money

Pressed with the reality that an alternative was our only option, our team got together to scope a solution. As a high-growth company, we needed to standardize operations across its global footprint while providing automation, cost controls, and cost effectiveness. 

After only a four-day working session, three of our SEs were able to build a solution by leveraging Cherwell’s own service management software and AWS integration. We implemented automation to provision AWS and cost governance with easy-to-define workflows in our no-code service management platform. The time required to generate a POC went from 90 minutes to as little as 90 seconds and ensured costs would be governed through built-in approvals and visibility.

And, while the team’s initial fears that expanding its use of the cloud would be costly, we hadn’t fully realized the benefits of streamlining the process with our own software. The integration of Cherwell’s service management software with AWS reduced the time-per-POC allocation dramatically. The whole process was facilitated through easy-to-create and manage forms and easy-to-consult dashboards that monitored time and cost. Early in its initial deployment of the new solution, we realized significant savings. In fact, while the number of SEs requesting POCs has more than tripled, the monthly cost has been cut in half. Critically, this cost savings is sustained, not just a blip occasioned by the change in process. 

The Impact on Employees—and Customers

“We’ve been able to streamline and globalize what was previously a disparate process,” says Tina Zimmerman, Vice President, Global Solution Engineering, at Cherwell. “The process had no control or visibility in half the world, and in the other half, we were handcuffed by a dying system that took too long and resulted in major losses of productivity.”

In the U.S., significantly reducing the time it takes to generate an instance of the software—and eliminating the need to constantly turn to IT for assistance—has allowed us to use our time more productively. And because the demands on its time have been so dramatically lessened, the previously besieged IT department has also saved time and money. In EMEA and APAC, our team previously had little control over costs and little insight into how clients were using the POCs that were generated there. For all regions, the new system offers greater visibility, more stability, and more flexibility. A key result is a happy, more productive workforce, a more consistent customer experience, and better business opportunities.

“The employee experience for my SEs has been night and day,” say Zimmerman. “This was something the SEs dreaded having to do because the process was so painful. Now, not only can they do it from a mobile device in minutes, we can now showcase this process in many of our prospect demos so that clients can see the power of our Automation Engine and how simply we can create complex integrations to external systems like AWS.”

And the impact on our client experience goes well beyond demos. Now, rather than being cumbersome and in need of frequent repair, the new system is slick and automated. Communication is immediate. Customer experience is vastly improved. We are able to create POCs at the right point in the sales cycle and, through dashboards, monitor our customers’ use of the information: how frequently they’re logging in, how much time they’re spending on a POC, and what level of interest they’re showing. With visibility into our leadership and control over our spend, we have been able to take advantage of AWS’s cost-control measures such as the ability to use the system only when—and how—it’s needed and shutting it off when it’s not.

A year ago, our approach to demonstrating value to prospective customers was partially hindered—by longer wait times in the U.S. and by a lack of visibility and cost controls in the rest of the world. But necessity, once again, proved to be the mother of invention given the need to replace end-of-life technology. Fast forward in less than a year, and now our service management platform extends to AWS cloud services, showcasing leadership and saving time and money.

To learn more about our integration and partnership with AWS, we invite you to check out our upcoming roadshows in Chicago and Columbus. You can also find more information by checking out our offering on AWS Marketplace.