Customer success and operations leadership are crucial aspects of any business, particularly in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving environment. Customer success focuses on ensuring that customers achieve their goals by using the products or services provided by a company. Operations leadership, on the other hand, concentrates on streamlining and optimizing business operations to maximize efficiency and profitability.
One individual with extensive experience and expertise in customer success and operations leadership is Sumesh Menon. Specializing in customer success growth strategies, negotiations, and operations leadership, Sumesh has helped numerous clients across various industry verticals enhance their business functions and profitability with their IT operations.
Additionally, he has experience in program, delivery, project, and IT service level management, integration-risk-change-resource-budget management, and presenting at forums for supply chain visibility and solutions.
Sumesh Menon’s background is a testament to his proficiency in customer success and operations leadership. Sumesh is an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School, where he graduated in Business Administration and Management. Sumesh’s hails educational degrees from top institutions such as Harvard Business School, Michigan State University, and Symbiosis.
Sumesh has worked with numerous clients across various industry verticals, including manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services. He has provided solutions for complex business requirements within supply chain nodes, from procurement to manufacturing to distribution within the Oracle stack.
Moreover, he has assisted clients with digital transformation, spanning across cross-functional domains, and offered solutions that can optimize their operations to function effectively and productively within the supply chain domain.
In this interview, we will delve deeper into Sumesh Menon’s expertise and success in customer success and operations leadership. Read on to learn more!
Inspirationfeed: How do you approach negotiations with clients to ensure that both parties achieve their goals?
Sumesh: Negotiation is both an art and a science that revolves around human interaction. It can be a nerve-racking process, but finding value for each party involved is crucial to a successful outcome.
Preparation is key before entering a negotiation. Identifying the best alternative solution and reservation value should be the first step to help start the conversation.
During the negotiation, investigation is essential. Asking questions that can help understand the client’s needs is critical to reaching a beneficial agreement.
If something is not feasible, supporting it with a business case that outlines the pros and cons and reasons why it is not possible can be helpful.
Creating and building rapport can also help diffuse any tension or anger and establish a positive frame for the discussion.
Avoiding making the first offer is often wise, especially in situations where there is a lack of information.
Value creation through trades is possible when one party values something less than the other party and vice versa. By trading these values, both parties can benefit greatly without losing much.
Can you share an example of a time when you improved the functioning of a business unit profitably? What steps did you take to achieve this?
The high-tech industry’s supply chain is known to be very complex due to the growing level of configuration required. In one instance, we faced a situation where the customer was incurring significant costs in inventory and where planning was done manually.
To address this issue, we implemented a demand planning system that allowed the customer to upload a huge amount of demand data into the system and configure rules to predict future demand based on the rule engine set. This, in turn, allowed the customer to plan inventory and postponement strategies that improved supply chain responsiveness and reduced inventory costs.
Manufacturing was triggered only when actual demand was received, which helped to reduce inventory costs further.
What is your experience in managing program, delivery, project, and IT service level management, and how have you ensured that projects are delivered on time and within budget?
Having worked with both Agile and Waterfall approaches to project execution and delivery, I have learned the intricacies that come with each during large project implementations. Planning and communication have always been key factors as I have moved forward over the years, with agility and adaptability being the mantras in order to pave the way during project execution.
First, building strong partnerships with senior leaders has been a priority, as it allows for effective planning and delivery of digital capabilities, safeguarding digital assets, and supporting strategic goals. Being a thought leader and trusted advisor has also been important in influencing the strategic thinking of senior business leaders and helping them to incorporate future digital capabilities into their planning.
Second, owning the relationship having effective working relationships with all relevant business leaders and deeply involving myself in key business activities and forums has been crucial for building and managing effective business partnerships at all levels during project execution. Taking full accountability for delivering the value proposition of IT has also been a key factor.
Third, driving change has been a priority, ensuring effective planning, execution, and communication of business change management to support digital capability investments, including business process changes to achieve maximum value from investments. I am accountable for ensuring an effective change management plan is in place for individual projects.
Fourth, using appropriate metrics to gauge the temperature of the project and if it is under or over-performing in terms of budget and schedule has been important. Revisiting planning and control and using it as a cycle for each phase of the project has been crucial.
Fifth and last, IT service level metrics have also been used to find the resolution time of tickets and how process improvements and training can help reduce the ticket inflow, empowering users with the knowledge to reduce recurring issues. Turnaround time for tickets with high severity has been used to come up with decisions to help improve the service levels set.
How do you measure the success of a project, and what metrics do you use to determine if a project was profitable?
- Gathering Customer Feedback. Getting feedback from customers is a clear way to measure the success of a project. It allows for conversations with customers about what was improved and how the project met their expectations. Formal surveys can also be used to gather quantitative data.
- Reviewing project specifications. Reviewing the project scope and specifications is important to confirm if all expected results were achieved. Project specifications are formal documents that outline the details and goals of a project, including resources needed, budget, and deadlines.
- Budget Management. Managing the budget is an underlying factor in measuring the success of a project. Variance metrics can help to understand if the project is under or over performing at each stage.
- Schedule Management and Slippages. Schedule variance metrics can help to identify schedule slippages and determine if the project is falling behind timelines, allowing for swift action.
- Team Satisfaction. Reviewing team suggestions and improving processes based on their input can increase team satisfaction and contribute to individual growth aspirations.
- Quality Measurements. Measuring the number of defects can determine the quality of deliverables and identify areas for improvement in the development process before reaching business testing and feedback.
What is your experience in managing risk and change, and how have you navigated unexpected challenges while implementing solutions for clients?
Weekly updates and status reviews help to identify and address any issues and risks encountered during the project. Managing risks is crucial, and they are categorized by severity and reviewed regularly to assess their potential impact on the project.
Every change effort, regardless of size, provides lessons to learn from. It’s important to consider the reasons for the change, the decisions made during the design and implementation stages, and whether the appropriate leadership skills were utilized to ensure buy-in from stakeholders at each stage. Results should also be evaluated to learn from the outcomes.
IT changes are handled as part of scope changes and follow the change management process for review and approval before they can be worked on for development and delivery.
It is common to encounter changes to the requirements during the development and testing phase of a project. While small changes can often be accommodated by modifying the design and obtaining approval before proceeding with development, larger changes may need to be deferred until a later stage in order to ensure that project timelines and budgets are adhered to, while still meeting the expectations of both the client and the leadership team.
By carefully managing changes and prioritizing them based on their impact, projects can be delivered on time and within budget, while still meeting the needs of all stakeholders involved.
Can you describe a time when you provided effective solutions that were competitively differentiated through technology? What technologies did you use, and how did they provide a competitive advantage for your client?
This was a situation where the client was having issues with their production batches that were integrated with the production scheduling in a process manufacturing environment. The solution designed was using Oracle Suite of products.
Issue with Production Schedule Workbench
The production batches failed due to no step dependency and step material association. This caused further issues when the Oracle Production schedule workbench failed to open upon launch and open the plan with the data currently in the production system.
Customization to be performed on the Oracle ERP side, specifically on the batch form, enabling the option to have the field enabled for the user to put in step dependencies and step material association manually. This would solve the issue of connecting the material with the step and also perform the step dependencies for the operations to flow.
This option provides the ability to key in the information. However, there was a concern that due to the batch being in WIP, there will be other data dependencies that might get impacted due to this.
As the product was tailored and designed in that way, we wanted to make sure that even though the plug-in that was brought in did not cause any data discrepancies elsewhere, we wanted to give this option as a last resort.
This will be a plug-in customization within the production scheduling tool, once the data is fed from the Oracle ERP system into the tool and before the production scheduling plan is launched. This XML file of the work order extract will be scanned for such issues, and step dependencies along with step material association will be attached to correct and with relevant details before the plan is launched.
This option provides seamless integration, and data integrity will be intact as the source is not modified, only the destination so as the plan launches successfully to further enable the scheduling of the batches for production.
The manual workaround would give compliance issues and require significant man-hours to perform the manual process. This solution helped the customer have the system plan for thousands of manufacturing batches, avoiding any manual work on production batches that would bring issues with the lot genealogy report for the components used in the manufacture of the drug.
How do you ensure that your team is aligned with the unique value proposition of your organization, and how do you ensure that your team is delivering value to clients?
Provide Domain Leadership
- Owns the IT strategy. Develops realistic and actionable multi-year strategic digital capability roadmaps, informed and prioritized by business and IT in an enterprise context. Prioritizes the portfolio appropriately and is accountable for overall portfolio budget management.
- Develops compelling business cases. Leads the prioritization and development of strong and clear business cases for digital capability investments in support of the roadmap and aligned with the platform strategy. Defines, measures, and achieves business outcomes for the highest value digital capabilities at the lowest cost.
- Brings an external view. Actively maintains awareness of external drivers in the business domain and relevant technology trends to bring new ideas.
- Knows what value looks like. Understands where the client should be competitively differentiated through technology, translates business needs into specific requirements, sees realistic opportunities for IT to add more value, and balances this with a pragmatic understanding of fitness for purpose.
Leverages the Matrix to Drive Portfolio Execution
- Demonstrates matrix leadership. Ensures that all IT functions are successful in delivering services by providing effective matrix leadership.
- Empowers delivery teams. Builds empowered and trusting partnerships with IT delivery team members at all levels. Understands IT business partner accountabilities throughout the portfolio lifecycle.
- Constructively advocates for value. Ensures delivery teams understand how to make the right trade-offs between speed, quality, and cost. Connects business stakeholders with broader IT services and ensures value is captured throughout the entire lifecycle of the investment.
- Shows good judgement in communication. Communicates successes and issues accurately, urgently, and to the appropriate audience. Takes accountability for ensuring effective management of expectations with business leaders.
- Boldly acts with urgency. Shows courage, tenacity, and respect to facilitate difficult conversations and remove roadblocks to value delivery.
How do you approach presenting in forums for supply chain visibility and solutions, and what topics have you presented on in the past?
Typically, based on industry standards, prevalent supply chain notions dictate how digital transformation can help streamline processes and bring more value to business operations.
Design for Services – Value chain Offering in and from Information Technology Perspective
In order to remain competitive, firms must understand how their manufacturing and supply chain operations can be designed to better support market requirements. This involves navigating the complex interrelationships between product characteristics, supply chain design, process choice, and manufacturing planning and control principles. For service industries, building a supply chain means creating partnerships.
AI Assists Companies in Redesigning Processes
In the past, business process redesign and improvement were made more efficient through ERP systems. However, with the advent of AI, companies are beginning to see a renewed appreciation for business processes as a means of enhancing work.
As AI continues to emerge, it appears that it can enable not only radical redesigns of business processes within production planning and control, but also visual image recognition, autonomous operations, and new content generation.