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Creating a Team of Problem Solvers with Epicor’s Himanshu Palsule

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In the sport’s world, some teams have all the talent they need to win championships, but, oftentimes they can’t seem to put it all together to be the last team standing at the end of the season. On the other hand, there have been moments when the most unlikely teams come together to shock the world. But when you look back, their success is not so surprising. It’s simply that their culture, their togetherness, was underrated. Championship teams don’t just appear; instead they are built. Company cultures are a lot like teams. Winning is the work, and work must get done. This is especially true when complex software products have to be created that solve problems for customers. Himanshu Palsule, the President and Chief Product and Technology Officer at Epicor, explained how the team works together at Epicor.

“We operate pretty flat, including our CEO, Steve Murphy, who’s a process engineer himself,” Palsule said. We all roll up our sleeves and talk to the person that has the answer versus sort of go down [through] a hierarchy of people. If you want to succeed at Epicor, you need to be comfortable with that.”

Part of building a great team is when leaders are members of the team too and not above it, and everyone works together. Another aspect of being on a successful team is being able to define what the team does well, stick to that core identity, and then having respect for other teams for what they do best. Every game is a series of problems and then solutions. Solve enough problems and the game is won. Great teams create cultures that identify each problem correctly and then work together to solve them.

 

Main Takeaways

  • Being a Vendor/Coach: Sales go ary when salespeople either push a client too hard to take on more than they need or allow a client to overcommit to more than they require. Rather than thinking from only a sales perspective, it is helpful for a vendor to think of themselves as the client’s coach. With this mindset, they seek to help educate and support the customer so that their business can succeed. This mentality allows long-standing relationships based upon respect to develop.    
  • Core Identity Versus Respecting Other Players: As a large player in an industry, it’s important to identify core company work and stick to that. If there are other players with a specific technology to solve a particular problem, it’s good to respect their product and allow them to do what they do best too. A large player in the industry doesn’t have to do everything; they just need to do their thing. 
  • Creating a Problem-Solving Culture: A constructive culture is essential to solve project problems and get work done. Creating an environment where hierarchy is not rigid and communication is fluid is one key. Another key is providing some guardrails to brainstorming sessions in a group of can-do people. Parameters can drive creativity.
  • Fielding a Good Team: Team building involves creating places for people to learn. Partnerships with academic institutions certainly can help. It’s also important to look for potential employees who have a specific skillet that can be adaptable even if they haven’t done the exact type of work before. These sorts of workers can be trained to be very productive members of the team.  

 

Article:

In the sport’s world, some teams have all the talent they need to win championships, but, oftentimes they can’t seem to put it all together to be the last team standing at the end of the season. On the other hand, there have been moments when the most unlikely teams come together to shock the world. But when you look back, their success is not so surprising. It’s simply that their culture, their togetherness, was underrated. Championship teams don’t just appear; instead they are built. Company cultures are a lot like teams. Winning is the work, and work must get done. This is especially true when complex software products have to be created that solve problems for customers. Himanshu Palsule, the President and Chief Product and Technology Officer at Epicor, explained how the team works together at Epicor.

“We operate pretty flat, including our CEO, Steve Murphy, who’s a process engineer himself,” Palsule said. We all roll up our sleeves and talk to the person that has the answer versus sort of go down [through] a hierarchy of people. If you want to succeed at Epicor, you need to be comfortable with that.”

Part of building a great team is when leaders are members of the team too and not above it, and everyone works together. Another aspect of being on a successful team is being able to define what the team does well, stick to that core identity, and then having respect for other teams for what they do best. Every game is a series of problems and then solutions. Solve enough problems and the game is won. Great teams create cultures that identify each problem correctly and then work together to solve them.

On a recent episode of IT Visionaries, Palsule discussed how the Epicor team works together to provide enterprise resource planning software. To do their job effectively, he described a culture of teamwork that extends to even incorporating the fans, the customers, into the team too. 

“If we are being true to serving our customers, which we are, you start by asking the question, ‘What’s the most immediate problem you’re trying to solve,’ and often, ‘Why are you looking for an ERP?’” Palsule said. “‘Is this your first one? Did the previous one fail? Are you looking for something more specialized? Was it technology? Is it functionality? Is it geographic expansion?’ I think in a good sales cycle, which involves our implementation services, you’re really understanding that, because, at the end of the day, an entire ERP can be quite overwhelming because it’s touching every aspect of your business.”

In short order, businesses from small to enormous need a useful software infrastructure in order to profitably get their work done at a high level that meets customers’ needs.

“Essentially, ERP is the backbone of your business,” Palsule said. “Everything from order processing, managing your inventory, working with your vendors, managing the workflow of inventory, picking orders, placing orders, processing payments — the entire gamut.”

Customers looking for ERP help need steady guidance as to what resources they actually need as opposed to what they think they need. 

“Where implementations go wrong, and we’ve all seen and heard the horror stories, is either the vendor is trying to push too much too soon or the customer has an ambition greater than their ability to deal with business transformation,” Palsule said.

Rather than being purely a promoter of products, Palsule suggested it behooves vendors to think of themselves more like a coach. A coach teaches, supports, and guides their team to the best result possible.

“I think us playing coach in that field as decisions are being made is the best place to be for a vendor because you create a lot of credibility and you build relationships early,” Palsule said. 

In Palsule’s mindset, the costumers, or the fans, are brought into the team too and coached alongside the players. Not only are they coached, but they are listened to as well — it’s a the- fans-know-best type of thing. The customers are able to weigh in with their support ticket requests but they also can participate in customer advisory boards.

“We meet every quarter, typically [they are] face-to-face meetings, and we put up a topic in front of a customer advisory board,” Palsule said. “We put up a trend. It could be anything from blockchain, could be augmented reality, could be GDPRS, [or] could be data sovereignty. And then we brainstorm and we put it to [a] vote and we get that feedback.”

Customer feedback is definitely a key to success. For the customers to achieve the best service possible, however, gathering great players, or employees, is imperative in order to produce quality results based on that communication. Truly, what’s needed is a team of dedicated problem solvers.

“If people ask me, ‘What is it you do uniquely at Epicor?’” Palsule said. “I say, ‘We problem solve.’ We get more excited the more complex the problem.”

Finding problem solvers, creating the conditions for their continued learning and success, and then guiding the team to flourish is what good leadership is all about. Palsule explained how having Centers of Excellence strategically placed around the world helps Epicor to attract and retain top talent. These Centers of Excellence partner with local universities in that effort. Epicor also focuses much of its attention on education within the company. 

“We have a whole division called Epicor University,” Palsule said. “It’s a large team that focuses on training both customers and employees, and we start getting them good at that stuff. It could be QA automation in Mexico. It could be [a] mobile Center of Excellence in Bangalore. And then we have a team of industry focussed functionality. When we do a release, we have these swim lanes: usability, industry functionality, technology, global expansion, etc. If you work in that industry functionality swim lane, we have to teach you parts of that industry that you need to understand and be good at.”

The other aspect in finding top talent is being willing to think outside the box to find people with particular skills and then be willing to train them up.

“It makes it a little harder because we are looking for specialized skills, not generic skills,” Palsule said. “But if you get those in and you train them, our, knock on wood, our attrition rates are a tick below what the standard in the industry is.” 

Sometimes the game can feel overwhelming because there are so many variables. In the business world, having a team mindset, with leaders that are player-coaches, who train employees and teach customers, will definitely lead to wins.

To hear more about how Palsule and Epicor are building a team of eager problem solvers, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

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Episode 312