Written by Dylan Gerstley

Interesting and Challenging Work: Making time for upskilling

One of Siegfried’s 5 Promises to our employees is interesting and challenging work, which we know can mean different things to all of us. The unmatched exposure we provide to new projects, companies, environments, and industries is just one aspect of what we offer our Professionals, and we believe it’s an extremely powerful opportunity for our employees to elevate or even redefine what interesting and challenging work means to them on a very personal level. In this series, we’ll take a look at how the promise of interesting and challenging work comes alive for our Professionals.

To best capitalize on growth, new processes and systems are often required, but they come at a precious cost: time. Employees and partners need the necessary time to learn how to use and leverage new practices and approaches while also executing on established responsibilities and expectations. To address this need, Siegfried Professionals like Emily Ozorio build authentic relationships to create a genuine trust with clients. And this trust then empowers the client to support our people in delivering high-quality results while taking the time to learn new systems and maximize long-term value.

Jake Wehmer, an Associate Manager in Siegfried’s Chicago market, joined Emily’s team shortly after completing his first project at Siegfried in January 2021. Jake entered an environment with an established and strong relationship between the client and Siegfried Professionals, but as the client experienced exponential growth and a series of fast-paced acquisitions, changes to systems and processes were inevitable. The Siegfried team was tasked with finding a suitable software solution to handle the massive amounts of data that ubiquitous systems like Microsoft Excel just couldn’t handle.

“Before taking the plunge into Alteryx, the client had asked us to work with their internal IT to develop some kind of application that could meet our needs,” Jake explained. This brought Jake, the client’s IT team, and other Siegfried Professionals into a more collaborative space of mutual learning. It also helped build the respect and understanding that would be the foundation of a successful system implementation.

“This was a massive learning opportunity,” Jake shared. “We had to learn the IT language when asking for certain specs, but we also had to learn how to communicate accounting concepts to non-accountants. This really put a frame of reference for what we do and how the data related to the company as a whole.”

Proving the value add through relationships

Although the client originally wanted Jake and the team to try and make an in-house solution work, it quickly became clear that it wouldn’t be feasible. Through Emily’s connections, the Siegfried team was introduced to Alteryx, a platform with the power and flexibility to work with extremely large data sets. After Emily’s presentation on the software, client management greenlit the system implementation.

But getting the greenlight was just the beginning of the challenge. Jake and the rest of the team were largely unfamiliar with Alteryx, and though its potential value add to the client was clear, they had to prove they could master the software on the fly while managing their other responsibilities.

“The relationships we create with our clients are extremely important,” said Jake. “In this case, we had to prove to the client that it would be beneficial for our group to dedicate more than 1,000 billable hours to upskilling. We leveraged the trust we’d built with them to prove that this time would enable us to deliver a long-term and a ‘total game changer’ of a solution. Although we had a long-standing relationship with the client, this was a big ask from us, and we still had several deliverables expected of us.”

Diving into the details

With the relationship built and the trust earned, Jake and the team now had the proper environment to dive into Alteryx, master the software, and begin providing tangible value.

“Lihan [another member of the team] and myself had minimal experience with Alteryx, but with the client’s support, we were able to teach ourselves the program and earn the advanced competency certification,” said Jake. “Having gone through the system ourselves to earn the advanced certification, we also developed training materials to upskill the other 23 members of the Siegfried team to the core level competency.”

The client, impressed with both the hard work Jake and the others were putting in to learn the ins and outs of the new software and the rate at which they were getting process owners up to speed, soon began to request that Jake build additional automation tools and reporting applications. He now manages a team of six Siegfried professionals that are committed to automating more solutions for the client.

“These requests, which were outside of the original project scope meant that more Siegfried Professionals could interface with the client directly,” Jake reflected. “This gave us the freedom to think creatively on what the client needed and expand expertise outside of what we were originally brought in to do. And our team’s success has inspired exploration of other forms of automation. We are currently in talks with the client about working with Robotic Processing Automation (RPA), which will be an exciting new software to learn with infinite opportunities to take on new and exciting work.”

Measurable results

With the client’s support and willingness for the team to upskill themselves, Jake took the lead on learning Alteryx and getting the Siegfried team up to speed to successfully implement the software with almost immediate results. Because of the client’s high growth, there was a pressing need to think of sustainable, long-term solutions for data management that didn’t require significant increases in headcount.

“During the 2020 year-end cycle, we had 25 team members performing detailed analyses over client data. During 2021, the client made a significant number of acquisitions that increased our workload by 65%. But with the help of our Alteryx integration, we kept headcount at 25 and met all of our 2021 year-end deliverables two weeks earlier than the previous year.”

“This entire experience challenged me to look at data more creatively and think of inventive ways to address client pain points,” Jake explained. “It was an interesting project that taught me that we are always learning and adapting to our environment to find the highest degree of success.

This story is Part Two of a larger series on interesting and challenging work and what Siegfried offers employees. We encourage you to read Part One and to check back here for more!

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