TOP Step Consulting: A Trailblazer in the OpenAir Route

Jodi Cicci, President & CEO There is a widely accepted notion, “the second most valuable commodity today is information; only to be put behind by the most valuable of all— people with information.” In an age when technology is constantly leveling this playing field of cognizance for every partaker— from laymen to research scientists—an abundance of information exists in its crudest of forms. In an ecosystem that is heavily endowed with a horde of information-aided entities, like OpenAir—the popular service automation tool—knowledge gaps existed in the shape of misdirect and a multitude of uncharted features. When NetSuite acquired OpenAir, in 2008, it was still one of the most comprehensive tools adopted by Professional Services Organizations (PSO). However, OpenAir’s strong and qualitative customer base had no place to go to other than the vendor to acquire information about the tool. For Jodi Cicci, this was an added advantage, as OpenAir was a promising horizon waiting to be explored, which when unbundled, would unleash the manifold hidden potential of PSO software. Upon these grounds, Cicci’s pointed effort was to help OpenAir users with the missing links in the deployment and integration of OpenAir, forging the dawn of TOP Step Consulting’s chronicle. “Since then, we have gone on to become one of the premier consulting partners for NetSuite’s OpenAir and continue to work with PSOs, providing them best practices and advice,” asserts Jodi Cicci, President and CEO, TOP Step Consulting. Today, with its accretive expertise in the OpenAir platform, TOP Step Consulting has marked a groundbreaking spot in the PSA domain.

The OpenAir tool is essentially a cloud-based services solution that supports the management of projects, resources, and finances for PSOs across all industries. Built on a unique and indigenous coding engine, OpenAir requires intuitive training during pre- and post-deployment. With the help of a qualitative expert team, TOP Step Consulting—eponymous to the brand name, TOP, meaning Tools, Operation, and Process—assists customers throughout the entire product lifecycle. From gathering requirements to system installation, product configuration to external system integration, troubleshooting, and corresponding with NetSuite for technical issues, TOP Step Consulting is an intermediary connecting PSOs with NetSuite.

OpenAir: The TOP ‘STEP’ Way

TOP Step Consulting assists PSOs to gain end-to-end transparency over their business process such as maintaining accurate timesheets, billable man-hours, roles and responsibilities, requirements and workforce management to name a few.

We work with one or two power users within our customer's organization train them and make them well-professed in using the OpenAir tool

Cicci’s team has devised a methodology, dubbed STEPS, a five-phased approach, namely Strategize, Tools and Process Implementation, Educating and Training, Performance Tracking and Reporting, and Systems Management to help organizations effectively utilize the OpenAir platform. “STEPS is a way through which we can engage with the customer at any point in time, partnering with them to help direct the intricacies of the OpenAir product and automate their business processes,” Cicci adds.

In the ‘Strategize’ phase, TOP Step Consulting’s team analyzes the organization’s business model, deducing specific requirements to get the most out of their company with both process needs and technology. In the ‘Tools and Process Implementation’ phase, the OpenAir expert helps with the actual deployment of the tool and configures it to suit the client’s needs. Through regular webinar sessions and live training modules, they impart their OpenAir knowledge and skills to customers in the ‘Educating and Training’ stage. “We work with one or two power users within our customer’s organization train them and make them well-professed in using the OpenAir tool,” explains Cicci. This minimizes the investments made on the training front, with the lowest headcount of one person, instead of having to train the entire team—making their engagement with TOP Step Consulting an affordable option.

Next in line, is the ‘Performance and Reporting’ stage that ensures the organization benefits are on par with optimum results post OpenAir implementation, by generating reports and benchmarking the efficiency. TOP Step Consulting also offers post-installation ’System Management” or virtual administration, through round-the-clock helpdesks and ticket-based troubleshooting services.

Unleashing the Power of OpenAir PSA

The OpenAir tool has reduced the overtaxing manual work involved in maintaining business management files and paper trails for many clients. Shedding more light on the real-life functioning and proficiency of TOP Step Consulting’s team, Cicci illustrates the success story of one of their clients. The customer was relying on a legacy environment, where corporate financial information was captured on spreadsheets and invoices were sent through mailers. They were on a quest to find a solution that had complete visibility of the information exchange within the organization while keeping track of all the finance-related information. Upon selecting OpenAir, they sought TOP Step Consulting for its competence around the tool. “We worked with them and deployed OpenAir with all features, including resource scheduling, financial tracking, and project management,” Cicci indicates.
In addition to garnering the core benefits of the system, where the customer gained transparency of information mounted on a single system, there was also a reduction of invoice-to-pay timeframe from a 30-day window to ten days, through the invoicing functionality of OpenAir. The system helped the client to streamline cash flow and recover almost $20,000 of unbilled travel expenses in the process.

"We will continue to enable and empower PSOs to be profitable, scalable, and efficient through change management, process enhancement, technology deployment, and skill-set training with a customer-first approach"

Leveraging their prowess in the NetSuite OpenAir platform, TOP Step Consulting’s services envelop an array of options, functionally categorized as OpenAir Release Management, Diagnostic Check, OpenAir Report Training, Business Efficiency Assessment, OpenAir Integration Services, and OpenAir Virtual Administration. Elucidating further on these modules, Cicci says, “NetSuite constantly pushes updates for the client-end OpenAir tool, but only a selected few would fit the business model of the customer’s organization.” In order to accelerate the decision-making process on whether the new features are essential and to subsequently help them roll out the changes, TOP Step Consulting offers the OpenAir Release management module.

“The Diagnostic Check is a health check system that ensures customers take advantage of the features that have been released over the years,” states Cicci. With a whole slew of options like internal switches, maintenance checklists, cleanup, and configuration settings, Diagnostic Check vastly improves the efficiency of the tool. It gives a quick-touch guide for the customer through a series of recommendations, based on productive utilization of the tool and time.

The company facilitates easy integration with other NetSuite tools and third-party process management software including integration. The technology that knits together the individual applications is comprehensive so as to account for data ownership assignment to each system at the right time. Recent technology advancements that revolve around tools like OpenAir’s scripting capabilities have furnished it with abilitiesto further expand its capacity and functionality.

Laying the Inroads for OpenAir

Having carved a niche for itself in the global OpenAir market space, TOP Step Consulting is looking forward to expand their knowledge base and broaden their scope in the Professional Services Automation field. “We will continue to enable and empower PSOs to be profitable, scalable, and efficient through change management, process enhancement, technology deployment, and skill-set training,” Cicci affirms. This has always been the mission statement that emphasizes the company’s customer-first approach.

In the days to come, when NetSuite rolls out more complexand productive supplements to the OpenAir platform, the need for refining useful information out of it will prove to be more strenuous. Rest assured, firms like TOP Step Consulting will always be at the vanguard, tilling the grounds across complex systems, and guiding information-consumers through a well-understood path.

TOP Step Consulting

South Riding, VA

Jodi Cicci, President & CEO

Provides services for business efficiency assessment, implementation, project management, outsourced administration, release management and dashboard/reporting implementation

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