How Does a CTRM Software Company Actually Function?
This is the third article in the series that looks at how a software vendor operates and how it is organised to ensure that customers obtain the very best in support and assistance. The previous articles focused on the Business Analyst and Project Manager roles within a CTRM software business. This article moves on to the role the client will interact with once live, and that is Support.
From the moment a CTRM goes live, the client will work closely with the vendor’s support team. This relationship will continue throughout the client’s use of the software. The support team provides a critical interface between Amphora and the customer. They deal with issues reported by users and attempt to fix any software issues and problems that the customers may have either through explanation and training, bug fixes in the code, business process changes and other approaches. This means that support staff need to be multi-talented people with a good knowledge of the software but also about how the customer’s use the software. They need to have good inter-personal skills as well as they interact with customer’s onsite and remotely providing support on a 24 by 7 basis.
But what exactly does a CTRM Support team do? As you will see, this role is both a key and important one that hopefully, this article will address with help from comments and insights from three of Amphora’s support team, Nageswara Rao Gogisetti, (N), Sekhar Bellamkonda, (S), and Purushotham Reddy, (P).
Understanding the role Describe your role at Amphora highlighting the areas you specialise in? N: I handle a team who supports end users so that their day-to-day activities run smoothly. I specialise in business processes side of the CTRM, having a good knowledge of all the Symphony applications. I mainly work on the client site, but I also support other Amphora team members.
S: I am Tech Lead of Production Support at Amphora. For me, support is the bridge between clients and the vendor. I am continually thinking about how the clients’ day-to-day activities can run smoothly. I analyse and discuss issues with the client and formulate plans to actively move forward with minimal impact.
If needed, I will correct problematic data. I work 24/7 on occasions when urgent and critical issues are raised and 5 days per a week on normal priority issues. In addition, I will also provide user training as required, either on-site, or remotely, guiding the users to the correct application for their requirements.
P: As a Head of Global support, my responsibility is planning and aligning support services for all of Amphora’s clients. In addition, I track the operational metrics of the whole support team, which drives continuous improvement to our support offering.
How does your function impact the quality of Amphora’s offering? N: Responding to client issues quickly is key. Understanding and then resolving these issues improves the overall quality of our software.
S: As a multiple client-facing representative of Amphora, I understand how our clients are utilising our software and how a client’s business could be impacted by a new feature in an upcoming release. I pass this knowledge on to our internal development team.
P: I have regular calls with clients and understand their day-to-day business and requirements. I prioritise issues or requirements with my team and provide workaround solutions before liaising with our DEV team on permanent solutions.
What biggest strengths are needed in your position? N: You need to be aware of the expertise of each support team member so that client issues can be handled in the most efficient way.
S: You need to be great at analytical thinking. You need to see the problem through the eyes of the end user and make fast decisions based on knowledge of our product and the client’s business processes to supply a quick solution to the user.
P: You need quick understanding of the production issues and be able to solve those issues fast and correctly.
Which other teams do you work closely with? N: I closely work with project managers and development team. They will help me to manage client expectations for the identified issues.
S: Working in support, you need to collaborate with all other teams in Amphora. When there is a behaviour change or a new enhancement requested by a client, I work with the business analysts. Once the requirements are understood, I work with the development team on solutions, and I explore any potential impact in other areas. I collaborate with our QA team who analyse the quality of the product, identifying client-specific scenarios.
P: I work closely with the client’s end users and understand their business requirements and issues, providing workaround solutions. For new enhancements, I work with the business analyst team.
What in your view are the greatest risks and challenges for supporting a CTRM business? N: CTRM business will vary from client to client. Understanding each client’s need and adapting that into the Symphony, is crucial.
S: Explaining in a user understandable format can be challenging for support. In certain cases, I need guidance from other teams within Amphora to supply the solution to the client, who may be busy on other projects, so having strong internal relationships is key.
P: The greatest challenge is to understand the criticality of the client issues and prioritise those with a clearly defined roadmap.
Understanding the individual
Do you mostly work alone or in a team? If you manage a team, what style do you use to lead other employees? N: I work in a team, treating my team members as equal colleagues regardless of their experience so that we can work closely by balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
S: While working in 24/7 model, I face different situations, which involve working alone, or often, within a team. Managing a support team with a combination of senior and junior resources can be a challenging role. I encourage the team to work as individuals as many support tasks can be resolved quickly whilst working alone.
P: I work individually and within a team. I manage the team by helping them when required.
What is your biggest achievement in your current role? N: Resolving a production down issue in half a day for one of our biggest clients.
S: When we find a solution for an issue that the client accepts, it builds trust in Amphora’s support team. I find working on-site at a client’s office a wonderful experience, which builds the client relationship.
P: My biggest achievement is receiving feedback from clients on their appreciation about Amphora’s Support team.
What has been your favourite project that you have been part of whilst at Amphora? N: User training.
S: Writing different stored procedures, control queries and logistics API.
P: Migration of legacy services to new technologies.
What do you find exciting about your job? N: My role receives different issues each week from a range of clients that trade a broad spectrum of commodities, which always keeps my role fresh and exciting.
S: Fixing issues and finding solutions across multiple integrated technologies always excites me.
P: Providing solutions to different client issues delights me.
How long have you worked for Amphora and how is it to be an Amphora employee? N: My total experience in Amphora is 9-years and I always feel respected as an Amphora employee, both inside the company and with the clients.
S: I have been part of Amphora for more than 8-years. Amphora provides a great working platform with continual team encouragement.
P: I have been working with Amphora for 14-years and continually learn about the world of commodity trading and have helped many clients with their day-to-day business activities.
What attracts you in supporting CTRM software? N: I love learning about how our different clients use Amphora’s CTRM software.
S: The CTRM domain is vast. Each client has their own business processes, so we are continually learning as Amphora’s client base grows.
P: In the CTRM business, each client business flow is different. Understanding each client’s business issues and providing solutions to those issues is very fulfilling.
What advice would you offer anyone considering working in support for a CTRM company? N: Firstly, you should learn about CTRM business process and work hard as if you were supporting your own client.
S: Support is the front face of any CTRM company. The reputation of Amphora is dependent on the support we provide. If anyone wants to work in support they need to believe in the product and have dedicated training to enable them to work with confidence. Technical, business, and analytical skills are crucial to working in support.
P: Understand the CTRM business and solve client issues, be ready to work long hours and to be working under time pressure.
Sekhar Bellamkonda Sekhar started his career as a lecturer then stepped into the IT industry as a Software Engineer. He started as a Level 2 support analyst and then became the Technical Lead of Production support at Amphora. Sekhar holds a Master’s degree in computer Science from Acharya Nagarjuna University.
Nageswara Rao Gogisetti Nageswara started his career as a Level 2 Support fresher in Amphora in 2010, before working for an Amphora client for 2.5-years in Singapore, which gave him a great knowledge on how end users work with a CTRM system. For the last 3-years he has been the Tech-Lead Product Support. With a total of 13-years experience with Symphony, Nageswara clearly has a deep knowledge on all of the applications and support processes. Nageswara holds a Master’s degree in Computer Applications from Acharya Nagarjuna University.
Purushotham Reddy Purushotham stated his career at Amphora as a Software Engineer in 2008, then evolved into the Head of Global Support. With over 16-years of experience in application development and support, he is instrumental in Amphora customers’ success. Purushotham is responsible for planning and aligning support services for customers globally and tracks operational metrics for support, drives continuous improvement and creates strategies for efficiency. Purushotham holds a Master’s degree in Computer Applications from Osmania University.