A Winning Duo: Lenovo Contracts MMI to Build Global Contract Management and Quote Automation Solution Following their Acquisition of the IBM x86 Server Business
Lenovo, a global $34 Billion personal technology company, acquired IBM’s x86 Server business as part of their strategy to lead the industry with an ecosystem of devices, services, applications, and content to seamlessly connect to people and Web content. The acquisition brought a new recurring revenue source from maintenance and support contracts that presented new opportunities for service revenue growth and the ability to identify new sales opportunities. This business was a departure from Lenovo’s existing PC and Think Server business as service contracts are sold with the purchase as an SKU.
The support contract services business is rife with multiple layers of complexity including levels of service, length of service contracts, a variety of billing options, and reporting. Lenovo was able to leverage IBM systems, tools, and processes for a period of time, but this option was costly and not a long-term solution for Lenovo. Lenovo needed a solution “tailored” to its business and culture.
The clock was ticking.
The Journey to Find the Right Partner
Lenovo executive, business, and IT teams considered their options. They weighed building a solution internally or engaging a partner to build a solution for them. They interviewed more than ten organizations. After a previous attempt to build their own design , the Lenovo team came to the conclusion the task was too complex and time consuming; rolling out a solution in a timely anner was critical to the organization’s goals and transition plan with IBM. It led the Lenovo teams to embark on a journey to find the right partner.
The new solution needed to be global, where contracts, terms, and conditions differed by region (North America, EMEA, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and China). The solutions also had to accommodate a myriad of data requirements while converting from IBM systems and tools to Lenovo. Additional considerations included the need for multi-currency and multiple languages, and robust reporting and supporting contract notifications through a multi-tiered downline from manufacturer to distributor to reseller to end-user. Each was a critical requirement.
The business wanted a solution to provide the analytics to identify new sales opportunities. Finance and IT wanted a solution to feed Lenovo’s billing application and address sending invoices to multiple people at multiple locations – literally a bridge between the two systems. And … this solution needed the ability to create customized quotes based on individual business needs and terms of the downline customer, accounting for the layers of complexity of the contracts themselves. All of this, coupled with a reduction in operational costs and information, provided rapidly and efficiently.
As the Lenovo team followed its process to identify the right partner, it came upon what was both the unlikeliest and likeliest candidate – Managed Maintenance, Inc. (MMI).
A Selection is Made
Almost all the other organizations researched by Lenovo were larger software companies with just pieces of a support contract management system. MMI was a support contract services organization that morphed into a software and services company architected with the Agile iterative approach. ONEview is a support contract “engine” that provides 360 degree functionality including Renewal Analytics and Alerts, extensive Workflow and Reporting, Customer Service Requests and Audit Trails, Quoting, Entitlement, and Contracting Functions, all attached to a Complex Billing Engine. MMI’s clients already included some of Lenovo’s distribution partners including Tech Data, Ingram, Micro Strategies, Avnet and IBM (from whom Lenovo purchased this business.)
Lenovo faced a conundrum – do they select a larger software development organization with potentially less risk or this boutique company with an application framework to support a solution built for this business? In this case, what truly set MMI apart was over 100 years of combined experience in maintenance and services contract sales and management.
Deep-seated knowledge of the support contract business and the complex business of a channel, coupled with their size – giving them the ability to deliver in constricted timelines, was a “winning” combination. When Lenovo paired that with MMI’s SaaS model, which reduces their total cost of ownership overall, the choice was clear. Led by one of the acknowledged industry experts and veterans, CEO Tina Lux-Boim, MMI’s staff of developers, business analysts, and service personnel were experts in this business.
The clock was ticking. MMI could hit the ground running.
The selection was made.
The Process – Blueprinting & Implementation
The process was comprised of four components – the Business Solution Review (BSR), the IT Solution Review (ISR), Agile development of Lenovo’s business logic onto the MMI framework with integrations, and application launch and support.
The North America BSR, held in Morrisville, N.C., included more than thirty Lenovo functional business owners, financial people and IT from around the world paired with MMI executives and business analysts. The Lenovo teams presented their functional business set of requirements based on their geographies and areas of a responsibility. This interactive session provided the information that allowed MMI to size and blueprint the project.
Six weeks later, the same groups met in Beijing, China to review the technical solution. The detailed output of the requirements from the BSR and ISR led to a final blueprint and development timeline that included all the specifications to “tailor” a solution to meet Lenovo’s needs. (As the project progressed, additional BSR’s and ISR’s were held for EMEA and Asia Pacific/Latin America.)
The result of the blueprint session was a detailed specifications document to deploy an end-to-end contract, billing, and quoting solution for Lenovo.
This project included importation of legacy contract data in which the overall solution was able to adapt and process data sets, as well as enter new contract data for current and future deployments of the solution.
The launch for North America went off on schedule. It took a collaborative effort characterized by hard work, innovation, and teamwork between the Lenovo and MMI teams.
The challenge of data transformation became a key obstacle in the overall process and moving the project forward. The complexity of this data (and inconsistency around data formats), and disparate sources within both IBM and Lenovo, created challenges for the project team. MMI’s contract management and supporting data expertise played a pivotal role for Lenovo in this initiative. Without this expertise, and the development of transformation queries and automated data loads, almost any other vendor would have failed to meet.
Going Live and What’s Next
the timelines of this project – and perhaps, been unable to go live at all. Lenovo and MMI teams worked tirelessly throughout the process. Florida based MMI personnel and global Lenovo staff communicated continuously throughout the development process – holding calls at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week – in a spirit of collaboration rarely experienced. The confront and resolve culture of this engagement moved the project along, resulting in a successful North American launch only 6 months from the start of development.
Going Live and What’s Next
The engagement between Lenovo and MMI began in May of 2015. The staged project started with North America, which went live January 11, 2016. EMEA is on schedule to deploy in October of 2016; followed by Latin America and Asia Pacific in February 2017. China has not yet been scheduled.
By June 2016, Lenovo had processed more than 11,000 contracts through ONEview; QUOTE-it has churned out more than 9,000 quotes; Lenovo representatives and their channel partners use the system to generate another 400 to 500 quotes each week – all in North America. These numbers will dramatically grow as other regions around the globe go live.
The alliance between MMI and Lenovo has been characterized by collaboration and the drive for mutual success. It has been in constant motion and fast paced. Lenovo users have found their new solution easy to learn and easy to use. It took teamwork and the willingness to take the journey together. It is an example of when a knowledge base translates into the integrity of systems, skills, and technical acumen.
What, at first, appeared to be an unlikely pairing has proved to be a winning duo.
“With Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business, we needed an end-to-end services sales and contract management system that could support both our direct sales and channel networks around the world. MMI offered a solution that enabled a smooth and quick transition to a single, global process with no business disruption so far. Also, MMI’s ability to collaborate closely with our project team, and its business knowledge, were valuable assets in this complex and critical transition.”
Roger Mark, Executive Director, Business Transformation, Data Center Group, Lenovo.
MMI’s Core Competencies