The Silicon Review
Since June 2007, Jodi Cicci, Founder, has been heavily involved in the NetSuite OpenAir product as a customer and advocate. She recognized an opportunity to start TOP Step Consulting as way to assist customers with the NetSuite OpenAir platform get more out of their investment. The company quickly gained notoriety in the customer base and earned a reputation of partnership and knowledge enablement, continuing to grow year over year. In 2014, TOP Step Consulting expanded to include the FinancialForce PSA solution, keeping the focus on the team’s expertise in Professional Services business processes and technology. In 2016 TOP Step introduced a focused Integrations and System Expansion team which supports code development, enhancing the robust platforms provided by the PSA vendors they support.
Jodi Cicci explains TOP Step in a flash
When you are the first employee, a lot of pressure is put on you. Ronn Breaux has handled that pressure and so much more as both a co-worker and a partner in the development of TOP Step Consulting over the years. The addition of the FinancialForce practice to TOP Step Consulting in 2014 highlighted our tool and business process expertise in the marketplace, making TOP Step a more accessible company for customers and prospects that wanted advice on tools selection or migration decisions. Jim Schein highlighted the opportunity to grow TOP Step by adding a formal integration and development team, which launched officially in 2016 and started unofficially in 2015.This team has provided a bridge between our technology practices by implementing a team building and cross training program. This has expanded the knowledge and expertise within our organization and has enhanced how TOP Step assists customers.
In conversation with Jodi Cicci
Tell us about your first product that was launched?
Our first product launched was a service offering called Business Efficiency Assessment, which is still one of the most popular services purchased by customers today. The Business Efficiency Assessment service focuses first on the customer’s business processes they have in place to run their organization and how they are achieving that with or without their PSA solution. Then we review the configuration of their PSA system(NetSuite OpenAir or FinancialForce PSA) and deliver a set of recommendations for improvement such as streamlining business processes, clarifying handoffs between groups and ownership of activities, system configurations and features to enforce and embrace established processes, and reporting needs including data adjustment that would benefit management as they continue to grow the company. From this recommendation document, called the Before and After Proposal (BAP), a roadmap is customized for the customer with TOP Step partnering as much or as little for guidance and implementation as the customer needs.
How do you and your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large?
With our focus on Professional Services Automation (PSA) tools that are largely Software-as-a-Service, we contribute to the global IT Platform by showing consulting firms can exist to support the cloud and customers looking to use solutions in the cloud. Cloud-based solutions are revolutionizing the global IT platform by showing the power of software and platform sharing.
How successful was your first project roll on?
Our Business Efficiency Assessment was a hit among the existing customer base as it provided an outside view of how the company was performing and supplied expertise on a PSA platform(NetSuite OpenAir) that has evolved a lot over time with customers not realizing how much of the system they did not know about or were not taking advantage of that would benefit them.
This proved the path and need for this type of consulting in the marketplace. Many of the customers completing this engagement go on to be long term loyal customers, coming back for training, Virtual Administration support, release management, and more. Often customers find us by recommendation of customers we’ve worked with in the past.
What kind of mixed responses have you received from your consumers over the years. How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?
Our customers are our focus and their need for knowledge, easier day-to-day system use, key reporting for strategic decision, and more, is what we are here to help with. We interact with our customers often via webinars and social media in addition to in-person activities such as user groups and conferences.
Each opportunity to interact with customers is an opportunity to listen to feedback and review how TOP Step can improve, grow, and provide more services that will help our customers.
Offerings developed over the years include PSA Deployment Services, Virtual Administration/Help Desk, Release Management, Reporting workshops, Diagnostic Checks, Scripting, Integration services, and more.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
TOP Step Consulting started with just me (Jodi Cicci) and within a year there was too much work coming in. The response from the customer base was overwhelming. It was quickly apparent that a company structure with payroll, etc. would be needed sooner than expected. The first employee hire is, in fact, still working with TOP Step Consulting today. When you are the single person in a company, the business plan is simple. When you need to start hiring, your business plan becomes more complicated and critical is understanding how cost grows with revenue growth. Even in a company of one –a growth plan will help guide you when the time comes to make decisions confidently.
What learning’s helped you to set this company up and what inspires you to excel in your field of business?
I worked inprofessional services organizations in various roles throughout my career prior to TOP Step Consulting. I was fortunate to work in both the operational side of the business as well as in the field, serving customers directly. This experience influenced how I wanted run a company and an organization. What principles I stand on, what my goals are for the company and the team, and how I emphasize customer success all stem from my experience in the industry and how I expect to be treated as a co-worker, as a team member, and as a customer.
What drives me is seeing a team member grow into a strong leader and solid consultant, seeing a customer overcome a challenge or introduce new processes that help the company grow and scale, and seeing the positive feedback from the industry by being recognized as a leader, such as with Silicon Review.
Where do you see you and your company a couple of years from now?
I see TOP Step Consulting becoming the first stop for many companies in determining their overall Professional Services platform and business process strategy. Our different technology expertise coupled with our business knowledge and experience provide a robust and trustworthy advisor for customers looking for a long term partner to help them on their journey.
"We enable and empower Professional Services organizations to be profitable, scalable, and efficient through change management, process enhancement, technology deployment, and skill set training.”
Meet the Key Executive
Jodi Cicci, Founder, President and CEO: Jodi has been involved with Professional Services for over 25 years in many roles ranging from software developer to project manager to operational director. This has given her a breadth of experience in technology services to understand the uniqueness each company offers and how tools and processes can improve the efficiency of business operations. In July 2007, Jodi began her own consulting company, TOP Step Consulting, focused on the PSA user community to bring business consulting, training, integration, and outsourced administration benefits to customers with specific technology needs. Jodi holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Michigan Technological University.