The Invisible Service Provision

by Patrick Mackinlay

Singapore, November 11th, 2021. TecSurge was built around the core idea of providing services for engineering data and software, and in this article, I want to delve into what service delivery means to us.

Patrick Mackinlay, Principal Consultant at TecSurge

Patrick Mackinlay, Principal Consultant at TecSurge, directs product management and technology for the company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Curtin University, and has over 25 years of experience in the plant design industry.

Prior to joining TecSurge, Patrick held senior technical and consulting roles with NRX and Intergraph, after 9 years with several EPCs as a systems analyst and administrator.

For many people dealing with the professional, scientific and technical services domain, service provision is equated to providing manpower, often under the tried and tested “time and materials” commercial model. In Australia, this practice is perjoratively referred to as “body-shopping”, meaning that the service provider is essentially contracting to make individual contributors available to perform tasks assigned to them by the client for an agreed hourly or daily rate. Under this approach, what the client is paying for is the time expended by the resources, rather than any particular outcome of the service provision.

The primary advantage of this model is that it is easily understood, and that after qualifications are accepted, can be compared and negotiated on an apparently equal footing by simple comparison of rate tables. The time and materials approach does have a number of disadvantages however, and these were foremost in my mind when I was involved in planning what kind of a company we wanted to become.

At TecSurge, we prefer to provide services by following the following three principles:

  • Firstly, we aim to deliver outcomes for design, engineering, procurement and construction applications, not “billable hours”. This requires careful attention to fully understanding client requirements, and developing a plan or agreement that will enable us to measure and progress our work in a meaningful way, independently of the effort expended.
  • Next, we believe that outcomes are best achieved by teams. Except for some very exceptional circumstances, we build our project plans and commercial estimates around the capabilities and skill sets of our staff, rather than their individual contributions.
  • Finally, we take ownership of the entirety of the delivery, by internally managing schedule, resource allocation and costs. In this way, we engage our clients as true stakeholders, involving them in decision making and review of outcomes, rather than micro-management of the project execution.

Following these principles produces real benefits during service delivery:

  • Delivery of outcomes provides us with the internal resilience to maintain our reputation for reliability when individuals become unavailable
  • Teamwork exposes us to a much broader range of skills and insight than can be found in any single individual, allowing us to challenge assumptions and innovate our techniques
  • Our team approach also allows us to use a combination of junior and more senior resources, creating an excellent environment for skill development while reducing costs
  • Project ownership gives us flexibility to increase or reduce resources in line with changing priorities or constraints

The principles and benefits I’ve described here apply equally to project and managed service models, and are passed through to our clients in the form of lower costs, shorter schedules, and improved quality. While it may not be highly visible to clients and outside observers, we believe our approach to service delivery is a key differentiator for our business, and has been proven by our continued success and repeat business in our market.

If you would like to learn how TecSurge can help to address your project or managed services requirements, please leave me a comment below or contact us to discuss the possibilities.