For a Quintiq technical operations consultant (TOC), there is no such thing as a typical day. It’s a unique attribute of the role, one derived from being in a company that has customers on five continents, across a broad spectrum of industries ranging from oil and gas to logistics. Each Quintiq installation can vary greatly, with customers running anything from a single module of software to an end-to-end system spanning orders to deliveries. Thus, even though the problems are the same, the context of the issue is never the same and the people involved are never the same.
It takes a very specific type of tech elite to fill this specially-created role at the Quintiq Global Delivery Center (GDC). Read on to learn about the challenges and opportunities in the role and to find out if you have what it takes to be a part of this top-tier team.
You have superhero complex
It’s 4 PM at the GDC. An incoming red alert has the support team jumping into action. A server crash at an airport has resulted in the entire planning system coming to a total halt. Every department in the airport is affected — from security and ticketing, to air traffic control and fire services. No one can log into the system, much less identify their assignments for the day. Quintiq TOCs work quickly and rapidly with the airport IT team to swiftly bring the system back online before travelers even knew there was a glitch. Flights arrive and take off as planned.
Being a Quintiq TOC demands some amount of superhero complex. You push yourself to find the source of an issue a little bit quicker because you want to save the day (along with millions of dollars in costs or lost business) for your customer. You strive to find the right solution for a bug because that’s what makes a difference to the average person somewhere in the world who unwittingly relies on Quintiq’s software to make sure trains, buses and planes run on time. You wake up in the morning with the knowledge that, thanks to your efforts to restore a corrupted database, a logistics company didn’t lose worldwide historic data on orders and delivery routes. More importantly, people got their parcels on time.
You can’t fly; you can’t turn invisible and bolts of lightning don’t fly from your fingertips. But when you are a Quintiq TOC, your knowledge, problem-solving skills and analytical abilities let you be a hero to someone, somewhere out there.
Your favorite word is “challenge”
Quintiq built its name as a company that solves the world’s planning puzzles. We love pitting our software against complex processes to bring efficiency and order out of chaos. Rising to challenges is a fundamental part of the company’s DNA. Tackling challenges is the reason we exist.
Nowhere is this more exemplified than in the role of the TOC. Given the sheer breadth of industries that are supported by Quintiq and the fact that almost every Quintiq customer runs a specially-configured version of our optimization software, no two customers will experience the same issue in the same way, which means no solution is ever the same.
For the TOC team, their job is never ordinary, and every day is a new day with fresh challenges and new goals to strive for. As Philemon Lim, a founding member of the support team at Quintiq explains it: “As a TOC, you handle a broad range of tasks: You talk to the customer, solve the problem, interface with business units and collaborate with colleagues around the world to resolve an issue. It is diverse on every level. Every challenge, every issue you get can be something new. It’s always challenging which is fun. It’s not the same old, same old day in day out.”
“Problem solver” is your middle name
Another emergency crops up. Production at a steel plant is on the verge of being halted. Tons of steel due to be delivered on that day cannot be processed, resulting in corresponding manufacturing processes being compromised. The support team is dispatched and TOCs sift through all the data to identify the single piece of bad data that had caused an erroneous planning process. The data was then corrected, and production was able to resume on time.
TOC Elizebeth Lee’s favorite part of the job is when she gets to play detective at work, sifting through data and logs to figure out the cause of a customer’s issue with the software. TOC Nurul Kamilah enjoys the creative thinking demands of the role, noting that “most of the time, even for the most experienced people in this position, there are unexpected problems. That’s when you have to be resourceful in trying to solve the problem.” For TOC Lim Mei Ying, there’s no sense of achievement like the one that comes from having helped a customer deal with their software issue, big or small.
Every day our TOCs pit their analytical and problem-solving skills in a race against time to prevent downtime, costs and unhappy end users. And they love doing it because problem-solving is in their DNA.
“Excellence” is your other middle name
When we hire TOCs, we look for something that tells us they are exceptional individuals who have a strong spirit of excellence within them, academically and beyond. Quintiq’s TOC team is replete with exceptional characters, including but not limited to Tae Kwon Do black belt holders, Muay Thai boxing champions and accomplished divers. Striving for excellence is an integral requirement for TOCs because that must be imbued in everything they do, from documenting a new problem they have discovered to identifying the optimum solution for a customer.
This is no ordinary job — it’s a role for the truly extraordinary individual.
You have the urge to know
TOCs spend the initial period of customer engagement collecting information about a problem or issue before analyzing the issue. They then resolve the problem using a combination of existing knowledge, deduction and analysis. Software forensics, data collection, solution discovery, are all skills that require inherently curious and intellectually inquisitive individuals.
That’s why at Quintiq, we place tremendous importance on hiring people who aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know something and who love to learn and acquire new knowledge. It’s the inspiration for our famous five-minute rule. It's also the reason why at Quintiq, roles and rank are significantly defined not by title, but by your knowledge level, ranging from 0 for newbies to 5 for masters.
You're a self-starter and a team player
It’s 5 AM at the GDC. The soft hum of laptops and air-conditioning contrast with the flashing touchscreen on the wall indicating an incoming red alert, a designation reserved strictly for situations where there is a total systems failure. A retail customer’s website had gone down. The company’s Quintiq application is throwing up a “network cannot be found” error. With Christmas season in full swing, this outage means customers are unable to complete their transactions.
A senior TOC starts to suggest workarounds for the customer in collaboration with a technical expert from Finland. A junior TOC begins the process of requesting clearance to remotely access the Quintiq components in the customer’s system. For the next three hours, the TOC and technical expert work to bring the site back up so that customers can go on with their Christmas shopping.
Like people who join the SWAT team, Navy SEALS and Special Forces, TOCs have to be self-starters who can also operate as part of a team. While you’ll take the lead on an issue that’s assigned to you, you’ll also need to know when to call for backup from your fellow TOCs. Excelling as a TOC demands the ability to balance your role as an expert in your own right while knowing when to marshall assistance from fellow Quintiq experts around the world.
Your communication skills rock
A great deal of a TOCs time is spent communicating with a range of individuals in varied roles across the globe. On a given day, a TOC may need to field a query or propose a solution to a customer, correspond with business units on service levels for specific customers, document a problem for Quintiq software experts, obtain information about a customer’s installation from a technical expert or speak to a third party vendor to learn more about how their software is integrated with Quintiq’s software. This demands communication skills that are adaptive, from the ability to write clearly and concisely, to the capacity to persuade and advocate an idea or solution.