A day in the life of a Hyland Enterprise Planning Consultant
Our blog series, A day in the life, explores what it’s like to work at Hyland, in one of a hundred different disciplines. Today we chat with Eric Cox and Ann Tutton, enterprise planning consultants.
OnBase Blog (OB): Tell us about yourself and your past experiences. How did you hear about Hyland?
Ann Tutton (AT): I actually found out about Hyland in my job search by way of the NorthCoast 99 listing on the Plain Dealer website. At the time, I hadn’t even heard of Hyland. I didn’t know anything about the company.
So I went online and read up on the company and was immediately intrigued. I really loved the company culture and knew I wanted to be a part of it. Earlier in my career, I worked at Progressive and felt it was a similar culture. After that, I was working in a very traditional manufacturing environment and wanted to move back to the type of environment that I had been at with Progressive, but on a smaller scale.
At the time, Hyland only had about 500 employees. I knew I wanted to be in an environment where I could contribute to the success of a company that was up-and-coming.
Eric Cox (EC): I previously worked in retail before coming to Hyland. While I was in college studying computer science, I would often see Hyland at our career fairs and it seemed like a great place to work.
About 10 months after graduation, Hyland called me in to interview for a Solution Engineer position on the Healthcare team. Initially, I was not hired, but about two to three months later, HR called me and asked if I was still interested because there was an opening for a Solution Engineer on the general installation team.
I gladly interviewed with that manager and Hyland hired me shortly after.
OB: How did you choose your career path? What led to the choice?
AT: I can’t really say that I chose my career path. It’s evolved over time as I’ve found new interests and developed my skillset. That’s something that happens a lot at Hyland, you grow along with the company.
I have always tried to become involved in positions which will allow me to work to my strengths – helping customers solve their business problems and being innovative. Initially, I was part of the Professional Services Group. Being part of that group allowed me to learn a lot about our product and the implementation of a wide variety of solutions. I’ve also gained a very strong understanding of our project methodology and our workflow software and workview products (among others).
After being in that group for about six years, I felt that I wanted to grow beyond just implementing solutions. At that time, the Enterprise Planning Services (EPS) group (or Biz Dev team as it was known then) didn’t actually exist. There were a number of us who recognized the need for the team and it eventually came about. I became part of the team very early on.
EC: I chose to move into this role after four years of working with our customers during the post-sales process, implementing solutions. For me, I wanted to expand my skill sets to more than just working with our software. I now have the opportunity to do more consulting up front to help our customers with crafting powerful solutions that our services team will ultimately implement.
OB: How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience was needed?
AT: I do not come from an IT background in the traditional sense. I do not have a degree in computer science but rather a liberal arts degree in Anthropology and a masters in Archaeology. However, the skills I acquired from these degrees put me in a unique position to be able to be a lifelong learner and allowed me to leverage my critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
I acquired my business experience over the years in all the various positions that I have held from provider relations, customer service, IT testing and IT programming in a number of different industries – insurance, manufacturing and healthcare. I became a programmer through in-house classroom instruction with Progressive.
EC: I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I can’t say that degree is necessarily what I needed unless I was on our development team, but the type of people who study that in college are more tech-savvy individuals, which is something that people need to be in this type of role. Prior to joining the EPS team, I had been working with OnBase for more than four years installing the software and consulting our customers, that is a skillset that is greatly needed in this role.
OB: What technology do you work with closely with?
AT: I was a COBOL programmer when I was a developer at previous employers. This helped solidify my knowledge of executing business logic in a programmatic way. Today my focus in technology is solely on OnBase with a particular specialty in workflow and workview solutions.
EC: I don’t work directly with a lot of different technologies anymore, besides OnBase. My daily job involves be working within it almost all day. In my previous position, I worked a lot with Microsoft SQL databases and Windows Servers with our customers during our implementations.
OB: What are some projects that you have been recently working on? What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
AT: We really don’t have typical projects. Currently I’m spending a lot of time working on developing services proposals and negotiating contracts. In addition to that, we have a number of internal initiatives going on which the EPS group will be part of, such as further developing Case Management solutions and increasing our involvement with customers when they come to the Solution Experience Center, just to name two.
EC: I wouldn’t really call them projects, but I have been working on several potential services opportunities. A majority of my time is working with our sales teams and customers to help craft a solution and the scope of the services. Once we determine what the scope will be, I put together the Services Proposal that we deliver to the customer.
OB: What are some of the common misconception(s) associated with your job?
AT: The biggest misconception about our position is that all we do is write services proposals and that we are in sales. Truly, the position encompasses so much more than that.
In my opinion, the biggest part of our responsibilities is on the “Consultant” piece of the title. We actively work to provide insight and guidance to customers in both understanding their business problems and how to leverage our software to best address those problems. We really do work hard to find best-in-class solutions for our customers while being cognizant of their schedules, budget and their technical acumen.
To a certain extent, we are risk managers. The EPS team also works to find ways to improve the customer experience with Services by actively looking for ways to seamlessly move from the sales to project execution while ensuring successful implementations.
EC: The biggest misconception is what our role actually involves. Many people think we just write the Services proposals. We do a lot of consulting in our role and assist sales during the sales process to help deliver the value of what services we have to offer.
With being in a more technical position previously, I can leverage past experiences when consulting with customers on the best software that is needed for solution and how particular solutions should be designed and implemented.
OB: What are you average weekly work hours?
AT: Typically a normal 40-hour work week in the office. However, we do have opportunities to go to customer sites to conduct consulting sessions, requirement gathering and roadmap activities. Fourth quarter is typically the most intense for our group, with end-of-the-year opportunities closing.
EC: On average I work the typical 8 – 5. At times, I do have to work later depending on the backlog of opportunities that I need to complete.
OB: What is most enjoyable about your job?
AT: Since the EPS is relatively new to the organization, we are in a constant state of evolving. The beauty of this position is that it really isn’t set in stone. You are afforded the opportunity to introduce new ways of helping our customers through new types of service offerings, enhancing the customer experience and improving business.
It’s exciting because you can write your own career map, but scary too, because there is no road map. It allows you to be very creative. The EPS group is at the crossroads of a lot of different groups that need to interact with each other so there are a lot of opportunities here, many of which we haven’t even scoped out yet.
EC: I really enjoy being able to be more of a consultant in this role. It’s a different phase of the process than in my previous role. I am able to help craft solutions while they are in the early stages of the process.
OB: What are some personal tips for doing this job well?
AT: I think this is a position where you need to be exceptionally good at listening. It is critical to listen to customers in how they describe their business problems so that we can develop appropriate solutions.
This position also requires that you be able to look at situations in the bigger frame of things, understanding the customer’s landscape in terms of resources, schedules, technical capabilities, budgets and potential risks to project execution. You need to be able to understand the difference between what a customer wants versus what they need. Finally, this position also requires a lot of flexibility since we can often encounter shifting priorities with regard to deals on the table for customers.
EC: In this role, you really need to have a very solid understanding of OnBase and how to turn business processes into solution. You need to be creative in order to craft solutions which will work to solve customer’s business problems.
OB: What is the worst part of your job? What helps to deal with it?
AT: This can be a stressful job. It requires being able to juggle multiple things at once. It is a position which requires that you learn not to take things personally – at the end of the day, it’s about finding a common ground with whoever we’re dealing with to deliver the best we can.
We often encounter changes in direction, so you need to be flexible and comfortable with change. We are, however, a tight-knit team and being able to all talk together and brainstorm and work through problems is very beneficial. I think it’s rare for us to look at things alone.
EC: Negotiating contracts is a completely different skill set can sometimes be stressful. What helps me deal with it is to try to leverage my strengths that I do have and to not be afraid to ask for help. What is great about this company is that if anyone needs help, people are going to assist since everyone in the company is working towards the same goal.
OB: What is your advice for people who are interested in this position?
AT: I would focus on gaining as much knowledge as possible regarding the software first and foremost, and then understanding how to leverage it in a variety of solutions. It is critical to understand OnBase and its capabilities.
I would also stress the importance of being a good communicator both written and verbally, because we spend a large portion of time doing both with people at all levels, both internally and externally. You will need to demonstrate being able to balance between the customer’s goals and mitigating risk to Hyland. You will also need to demonstrate your ability to influence customer decisions by making well thought-out decisions and making compelling arguments for customer direction for various solutions.
EC: My advice would be to really get good at multitasking. It is very common for me to be juggling multiple opportunities at a time where some of them go silent for several weeks or months. You need to be able to easily remember what conversations you have had with the customer in order to make updates to what solutions you have proposed.
OB: How do you progress in your career path? How can you move up in your field?
AT: There are really endless opportunities within this group and we are often charged with leading the way in new ventures within the Services organization. We are all encouraged to bring our ideas to the table and exploring how to make them happen.
EC: I would say that in order to move up in this role, you really need to be a master at consulting, crafting solutions, being able to negotiate the contracts with the customers, and even performing the requirements gathering sessions with the customer so that once the contract is executed anyone can easily implement the solution at that point.