Reflections on Seven Years of Stepping Cloud

Tanzilur Rahman | Aug 17, 2020

“Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”

It is said that the first seven years are most crucial in a child's development. In these years the brain develops much faster and sets the foundation for how the child interacts with the world and builds relationships in future. By the age of seven an important milestone occurs, what is traditionally called ‘age of reason’; the age at which a child is considered capable of acting responsibly.

In Medieval times, apprenticeships in courts began at age seven. Children under seven weren’t considered responsible for their crimes as per English Common Law. Turning seven had a special significance in religious traditions; this is the age around when the Catholic Church offers first Communion, daily prayers become obligatory for a Muslim child and the child traditionally used to go through thread ceremony in Hinduism.

This is the time when the child becomes capable of rational thought, internalizes the conscience and starts to have control on his impulses. He becomes better in problem solving, is able to explain things logically and starts developing doubts about fairies and monsters. These are the first steps towards adolescence and the beginning of a more complicated phase of learning and interactions where their actions start having larger consequences and hence are put to stricter scrutiny.

While each child may be different and may not follow the script completely, this is the general pattern of behaviour. Likewise, organizations borne out of entrepreneurial efforts also have a similar life from the early infancy to increment growth to full maturity. Stepping Cloud has reached this important milestone. The journey so far has been all learning, right from the first project. It has learnt to survive, to build teams, to work with partners, to deliver to customers, to withstand competition, to manage attrition, to absorb shocks, to build lasting relationships and to add value. Last seven years have seen the building of a strong practice with headcount reaching close to seventy, thirty plus customers, multiple solution partnerships with OEMs, in-house product development capability , cashflows fully sustaining operations , sound revenue growth and reasonable margins and most of all loads of goodwill and camaraderie both internal and external. There have also been a few mishaps but those also have been a great source of learning. While it is satisfying to see the incremental growth so far, this sets the stage for the next phase of high growth and as an organisation this needs next level of maturity. First and foremost, a mindset change and self confidence that we are not a small fish exploring high seas but a modern, fully equipped, self-sustained marine vessel that is designed to navigate rough oceans. We know the nature of the game and are a top player best suited for this business. Our size and structure bring agility and flexibility in our response and it is a source of strength than any perceived weakness.

Second, we need to understand that communication is the key to success in a geographically dispersed workplace, where everyone is working in a remote model. All our colleagues, partners and customers are working remotely and hence building an effective communication mechanism that fosters smart collaboration is critical. As we have taken to this model with utmost ease, ensuring that we better the rigor of managing documentation and proof points right from the initial customer engagement through the entire lifecycle. Same should also reflect in the quality of conversations with partners and customers. Customers are looking for not only validation but also handholding and guidance and that can only be achieved if teams have an in-depth understanding of both process and technology.

The remote working model also provides an immense opportunity for us to expand beyond our current geographical focus and serve customers across regions. With limited requirements for foot on the ground and with the legal entities already established in regions such as UAE and Singapore, our ability to reach out to customers who are looking for better capability and reduced costs is much higher and will bring the next level of growth almost immediately. However, this requires us to deal with complexity and scale at a much higher level and hence for us to project manage these engagements more professionally will be a definite ask. Rather than project management being a cross-teams coordination work, it needs to become an execution engine that drives the faster implementation and adoption.

Our solution approach also needs to move up to ready-to-deploy solution packages combining the delivered and the custom in meaningful offering for regions and industries. A better understanding of innovative complimentary solutions that can be clubbed with the standard offerings, pre-configurations already in place with some tweaks to enable faster time to implement and adopt will also make our story much compelling for the customers. For some areas such as payroll, recruitment and learning, a managed service model rather than pure consulting and delivery can become another engine of growth.

Our go to market strategy with all key partners requires more focused actions in terms of co-selling, demand generation and business development. So far our approach has been piece-meal and opportunistic. This will need to become more planned and owned by dedicated business development resources driven by year-round cadence with the partners to drive the growth across regions. Our solution demonstration capability needs to become more sophisticated with all pre-sales, business development, module leads and project management team members to be able to run end to end overview solution demos to the customers.

Scaling up on current skills and fast acquiring new ones, going beyond associate certifications and having professional certifications in place , building expert knowledge and subject matter expertise and demonstrating the same though topical blogs and webinars will become essential to establish us as the content leaders in our space. We also need to be showcasing our success stories and achievements to the outside world in much more coordinated fashion. Organising kick off and go live customer events along with the partners, documenting and publishing customer success stories and keeping our website and social media channels alive with engaging content will go a long way in establishing our credentials.

Lastly, continuing to build an open and transparent organisation where fun and learning go in tandem and team collaboration becomes the cornerstone for measuring success , where professional and intellectual growth are balanced with overall wellbeing and where all logical and reasonable asks are met without unnecessary squabbles and egos is what would make the next phase in our journey much more enjoyable and memorable. We have a huge potential, and this is the time to realise it. Our ‘age of reason’ begins now.