Inc. 500 Interview: Managing Outsourcing
More small to mid-size companies are outsourcing functions, from call centers to IT service, these days. How can they manage these relationships easier? Blue Canopy sells a Web application that helps companies manage these outsourcer relationships. This technology helps, for example, by alerting users if a supplier misses a deadline. Blue Canopy, based in Reston, Va., was No. 100 on the Inc. 500 last year. CEO and Founder Jeff White discusses Web applications.
Inc. Technology: How do you manage outsourcing relationships with Web applications?
Jeff White: Our Web application helps companies manage their relationships with third-party integrators. For example, after IBM has delivered the equipment, Blue Canopy helps the company cut through the red tape of setting the system up. Hardware, software all comes in at the same time, and it's difficult for a company to set everything up and make it run smoothly. Our application helps with performance management. I like to say that it's just helping companies get things done.
Inc. Technology: Doesn't the integrator have its own technology staff to maintain systems?
White: That's the initial resistance to our service. Actually, we run up against two basic questions. One is from the major integrator who's installed the equipment for a business. They tell us that we aren't needed because, "We can do all the servicing and managing and setting up ourselves." The other is the buyer telling us that our ability to help them streamline their operation is their job - to use their workforce to make things run smoothly. We dispute both of these arguments. Even if the major integrator is on-call and can handle repairs and installation, it doesn't make sense for them to be accountable for themselves. We provide oversight on what the company purchased, and make sure it runs smoothly and accurately. And for our clients we save them time and costly downtime by coming in and making sure everything runs smoothly. In our experience, the integrator eventually gets over the fear that you're trying to displace them.
Inc. Technology: Any advice to entrepreneurs just starting out?
White: There is no rationale for starting a business on your own. It defies all reason. As far as I can tell, 98 percent of them fail. I personally make less money today than I did six years ago. It's certainly a lot of risk, and a lot of sleepless nights. It defies all logic. But if it's in your blood, you're just going to go ahead and do it. And I don't recommend doing a spreadsheet analysis on your business before you get started, because you'll throw it away the next day. I did.