Building a Top Team
Dennis Sands is no stranger to consulting or to SAP.
Dennis has been involved in SAP consulting for more than 20 years. “I was doing it for other people for so long, and I thought, ‘Why don’t I gather my own troops and why don’t we do this ourselves?’” Dennis says. He founded FirstCall Consulting in 2009 to offer services and support to mid-market and investment companies who use SAP.
FirstCall Consulting only hires platinum-level consultants — often ex-Big 4 consultants. “No one in our organization has less than 15 years of SAP experience,” says Dennis. “We only hire the best.”
With this level of experience, FirstCall consultants have encountered just about every bump in the SAP road. “There is virtually nothing we have not seen from SAP,” Dennis says. “When we look at a problem, we have probably seen it before.”
With experience as an advantage for the company, consultants are able to solve problems quickly and cost effectively. Customers pay FirstCall for exactly the amount of time their service is used.
“There was a huge need in the mid-market space for companies needing 15 hours of support here, 20 hours there, or sometimes 100 hours per month to cover various modules,” says Dennis. “Mid-market customers use us as an extension or supplement to their internal SAP team. Investment companies use us to save costs versus a full time internal SAP team,” says Dennis. FirstCall became a place where these companies could find qualified consultants for all their Functional and Technical SAP needs. The company currently has 12 full-time employees and contracts a number more.
Most of FirstCall’s clients have been with the business for four or five years. When they run into a problem, they reach out to FirstCall for help. Every client has a dedicated FirstCall support team of five members assigned to them.
“The client works with the same support people day after day, month after month, year after year,” says Dennis. Working together repeatedly helps the consultants and clients develop a relationship. “Having a team dedicated to your company is important to a lot of clients.”
Companies and firms that hire FirstCall are able to save money by hiring consultants on an hourly basis rather than hiring full-time, in-house staff.
Dennis recalls a story in which an investment firm had just purchased a company and brought FirstCall in to work on SAP. The firm turned the company around and sold it about 18 months later.
“We are looking to double in the next two to three years either through normal client acquisition or potentially acquiring another company,” Dennis says. FirstCall also experiences growth by partnering with other businesses that provide complementary SAP services. While FirstCall handles the software side of the product, it may look for a partner in a company that focuses on the hardware, for example.
SAP has recognized FirstCall with awards based on its support and customer satisfaction. FirstCall is also community-oriented and works with the organization, Hire The Heroes. The company trains veterans in SAP and provides them with experience in the marketplace. With experience and support from FirstCall, the veterans can find jobs in the industry.
Why the name? Dennis says, “We want to be the first call a company makes for their SAP Functional and Technical needs. Try us, you will be impressed.”