March 17, 2020 | Larry Goldman | Senior Director, Product Marketing
As Spinnaker Support’s Vice President, Global SaaS Support Services, Chad Stewart is responsible for all SaaS business development activities, services delivery, and organizational development. While new to Spinnaker Support, Chad is a ten-year veteran of the Salesforce service market.
I sat down with Chad last week to learn more about his background, his take on the Salesforce market, and his ambitions for Spinnaker Support’s new SaaS practice.
You’re new to Spinnaker Support. Tell us a bit about yourself.
After earning my B.S. in Business Administration from Colorado State University, I started my career as a Salesforce configuration consultant for Accenture. I most recently served as a practice leader and architect at Slalom Consulting, where I provided implementation and technical architecture leadership for a range of Salesforce cloud solutions. In my five years in that role, I focused on developing our Go-to-Market strategy, establishing consistent delivery practices, growing sales and accounts in the public sector, and recruiting top talent.
When I’m not working, I’m always up for hiking, biking, skiing, and camping in our Colorado sunshine. I live in Denver and enjoy being active with my family.
What first attracted you to the SaaS services market?
When I started at Accenture, I had a colleague – an amazing technologist – introduce me to Salesforce and cloud-based solutions. She talked about the potential of the Salesforce market and the capabilities of the platform. After looking at the types of projects we were doing, it was clear that Salesforce was at the heart of transforming the way people interacted with business technology. It was a strategic platform, and I wanted to be involved with it.
From the start, I loved that Salesforce was a point-and-click platform and that you didn’t have to know how to write code in order to make a significant impact on people’s working life. With a good amount of business knowledge and curiosity, it’s fairly straightforward to deliver innovative solutions to clients. I find the work immensely rewarding because small changes have the capacity to make a huge impact.
On one of my first projects, I remember sitting with a client Director and discussing the changes her team requested in our review session. She asked what kind of project delay to expect in order to incorporate the high-priority feedback items. When I told her they were completed in real-time, during the session, she was shocked. In her past experience, even moving fields around on a page would have taken cycles to complete. This inspired me to learn more and to find ways to make significant impacts on people’s work life, through technology.
Tell us about your new role at Spinnaker Support.
Spinnaker Support has been looking at the SaaS tools market for a few years now, and my focus is to ensure that the SaaS support services team delivers excellence to clients, starting with the launch of Salesforce. When we think about the services we provide, our knowledge of enterprise systems, and the prevalence of cloud and SaaS tech in today’s enterprises, SaaS services hold a wealth of opportunity for expansion.
I’m currently building out a team of Salesforce experts. Going forward, my team and I will focus on helping organizations overcome resourcing challenges so that they can get the most value out of their strategic platform, be it Salesforce or another SaaS solution. In my career, I’ve always focused on building client relationships, growing practice offerings and capabilities, learning new technologies, and building engaging teams of professionals. This role is all that and more.
We’ve just announced the launch of Salesforce managed and consulting services. How does this fit with the services Spinnaker Support is already known for?
Spinnaker Support has nearly 12 years of supporting CRM systems and providing managed services and consulting, so the announcement of a Salesforce practice is a very natural move for the company. Compared to many of the other managed services firms, Spinnaker Support comes to the market with some unique advantages.
For one thing, we have a broader perspective than firms solely dedicated to Salesforce services. We understand the larger enterprise infrastructure and how CRM integrates into the overall strategic business focus. We also have a global footprint and experience providing services and technical resources to all sizes of enterprises in almost every industry. Finally, our holistic approach to providing support across any platform is to understand our clients and their business challenges and then use our experience to recommend and implement scalable, long-term solutions.
What do you see as the direction of the Salesforce services market?
The market will only continue to grow. Salesforce has expanded the breadth of its offerings through acquisition and other means, and they show zero signs of slowing down. As Salesforce looks to integrate all those solutions, their customers will require partners that are tracking these changes and can advise on how to take advantage of the new tools to improve their business outcomes.
Currently, there’s a good number of vendors who offer Salesforce implementation assistance but a serious shortage of qualified professionals to help organizations support and grow Salesforce after deployment. This post-implementation gap puts Salesforce customers at a disadvantage. As one of the most innovative companies in the world, Salesforce puts out volumes of new features, functions, and cloud offerings each year. Again, I see managed service partners as a way to facilitate adoption and provide customers with the resources they need to innovate for the long term.
What advice would you give to companies that may be stalled in their Salesforce deployment?
When I meet with potential customers, we start with the classic “people, processes, and technology” conversation. A stalled deployment is generally the result of either a lack of executive vision and alignment, poor change management, or both. Once you recognize that you’re stuck, then the next step is to make sure you have a clear Salesforce leader, whether that’s the VP of Sales, Chief Operating Officer, or someone else. This must be a decision-maker who is engaged, understands the overall vision, and can make the final call. You can’t make progress without that type of leadership.
Another challenge I’ve seen is specifically for companies that just use one cloud – commonly Services or Sales. They don’t see how a platform like Salesforce can enable their strategic goals, and so it gets implemented quickly with little thought on what to do with it after the initial release. Users become frustrated, ideas are stifled by the slow pace of system enhancements, and eventually, it becomes one of a number of disparate systems in the enterprise landscape. I love the opportunity to sit with clients and hear about these challenges and the ‘if only we could’ statements. From there we can define a clear vision of the end goal, set measurable outcomes, and a framework to get there.
At Spinnaker Support, our SaaS team facilitates these kinds of meetings by bringing together and aligning the right stakeholders. Instead of creating or working from a list of discrete updates, we work to understand the bigger picture: their key business issues and challenges. Once we understand the end vision and guiding principles, we begin working on the technology enablement. These types of services go faster and have a deeper impact for a longer period. I’m always happy to talk through these concepts with companies, and I encourage organizations to reach out to start a discussion.