Today at 6 am (That’s Monday, March 4th, if you are reading this later!) Acorio was recognized as a “Best-of-the-Best” professional services firms in the nation on research firm Service Performance Insight’s (SPI) 11th annual list.
That’s a pretty big deal to us, as it means we were named one of the Top 18 consulting firms out of the 600+ organizations who participated in the survey – and one of just two ServiceNow partners on the list.
What a tremendous honor to receive this award, and what a positive reflection of the hard work executed by the entire Acorio family each and every day. We take great pride in working to build a once-in-a-lifetime company – a team of professionals passionately committed to our clients and each other. It’s a brilliant feeling to receive this recognition and to take a place amongst so many other great companies.
To rank in the top 5% of this select group of professional services organization in the nation (not just in the ServiceNow ecosystem), Acorio needed to excel across five critical performance dimensions: leadership, client relationships, human capital alignment, service execution, and finance and operations. As one of the highest honors in the professional services industry, we wanted to reflect on how we got here. It wasn’t by accident, it wasn’t without effort or deliberate initiatives. It was by mission – to bring the very best consultants onto our team.
In fact, it’s part of our credo when working with clients. Reflecting on what it takes to build a best-in-class consulting firm, CEO, Ellen Daley shared, “I think mostly that it is about the people. We want to create an environment where iron sharpens iron with a culture of radical candor and constructive peer feedback. And, of course, you have to create a client-first mentality, and always stay true to that mission.”
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Juliet Acuff also shared her thoughts on client partnership;
“Being a great consultant means taking the time to ensure you understand the issues your client is facing and why those issues are critical to their business. Once you understand that issue, it is a matter of using your experience and resourcefulness to provide a best practice sustainable solution.”
A good rule of thumb, according to Technical Consultant, Ryan Gillespie, “In my opinion, a bad consultancy will say ‘you,’ a good one says ‘we’.” Similarly, we believe that most consultants take their job, and their clients’ success deeply personally. As Director of Business Process Consulting, Barbara Hare shared, “Consultants care about client success both on a professional and personal level… (and) Consulting organizations are a reflection of all the skills, ability, knowledge, and capabilities of every member of the team.”
Our consultants are some of the best in the industry because we make a promise to ourselves and to our customers that we will not only be experts in the technology, but also in people, in business, in facilitating change, and in empowering and teaching both our team and our clients.
Because, as Technical Architect, Joe Aranzullo, asserts, “I think back to a quote from The Little Giants that says, ‘Football is 80% physical; 40% mental’ – that also applies to consulting, which is more like 70% technical and 60% interpersonal skills.”
So how exactly do we achieve that (admittedly dubious) equation?
First and foremost, we have recognized from the very start that our strength as a technology company comes from our people. From there, we have taken action, starting with creating an environment where everyone can bring their entire selves to the job. Acorio’s Chief Operating Officer, Sven Ingard, says “It’s about creating a culture of collaboration where no one is afraid to ask for help. It is easy to offer help, it is harder to ask for help, unless you feel like your teammates are with you.”
To “sharpen the knife” we also invest a minimum of 80 hours of training per employee each year. This year, we added both online and in-person consultative skills, train-the-trainer workshops to enhance our consultant’s abilities, and new “boot camps” to teach Senior experts from outside the ServiceNow ecosystem our secret sauce. The goal? According to VP of Innovation and Customer Success, Adam Mason: To create a consulting environment where people, “listen, think… then answer.”
To aid with that we rolled out a new learning system, Litmos. This system tracks certifications and individual learning paths for consultants and works to provide real-time visibility for staffing projects and measuring development goals.
This “people-first” approach is something that VP of Operations, Mike Hanrahan, also emphasized. “Training and enablement, ensuring people have the right skills, and resource availability are all key. Our goal is to have people trained and enabled ahead of demand. Additionally, we have systematized both current Utilization and future demand in order to make the best resourcing decisions.”
From a Technical Consultant standpoint, Jordan Hladish, agrees, “I think supporting and enabling your consultants is the #1 task. If we’re working as a consultant, you should be able to push yourself and understand the requirements already. Being supported to follow your interests, work with your own strengths, and have others around you that are working just as hard to inspire you to be the best you can be is monumental. And this place is bleeding with inspiration there.”
It’s not always easy to be one of the top 18 consultancies in the country, as Senior Technical Consultant, Kathy Blackburn reiterated, “Building an outstanding consulting organization is no easy feat. It takes an outstanding and thorough review and interview processes. It takes dedication to keep your staff mentally healthy. It takes an “us not them” culture code. …most of all, it takes a continual, never-ending, improvement process. Our organization is never going to be perfect, but, by golly, we are going to keep fixing issues as they come our way.”
So, thank you to all 200 Acorians, for the exceptional work you do each and every day to make us what we are, to empower our clients, and to inspire the team standing next to you.
What’s in store for 2019? According to consummate consultant, Solution Architect (and somewhat sarcastic Aussie), Jono Koster: “Standard consultant answer, ‘It depends’” .