5 Problems Teams Have With To-Do Lists (And How Project Management Software Can Help)

5 Problems Teams Have With To-Do Lists (And How Project Management Software Can Help)

Ever find yourself without the right tool for a job?

Maybe the screw fell out of your glasses, but you don’t have one of those tiny screwdrivers you need to replace it. You try the edge of your credit card, a thumb tack from the wall, a paper-clip you bent into a point.

Maybe you find a solution, or maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s annoying. Plus, it takes far more time, energy, and effort to fix than it would if you had the right tool.

What To-Do Lists Are (And Are Not) Good For

The difference between project management and basic to-do lists is huge, yet it is a difference that’s often misunderstood. Post-it notes. Moleskine notebooks. Day-planners. Google docs. Any of the hundreds of organizational apps you can download to your phone. These are all versions of to-do lists. They can be very good at organizing individual projects, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping a running list of personal to-do items. However, basic to-do lists are not good for team projects because they fail to provide the one thing every team needs to keep a project moving forward: Visibility.

If you’re managing a team, it’s vital that you understand what everyone is working on. But if everyone on your team is working from his or her own personal to-do list, you’ll have little visibility into what’s actually happening on your team most of the time.

5 Problems Faced By Teams Using Basic To-Do Lists

1. Inability to Plan

When everyone is working off their own lists, you have zero visibility of what’s getting done, what’s not getting done, who’s going to do what next, or what resources might be available to meet an unexpected need if one arises.

2. Inability to Adjust to Changing Demands

Projects rarely go from start to finish without a few changes to the overall requirements. If you’re not working from a team-based project management system, you’ll have to pull everyone together, see where everyone is on their tasks, then figure out what work needs to continue, what needs to change, and what can be stopped completely.

3. Anxiety About Deadlines

Project managers are in charge of getting projects done. But when you don’t know exactly when different parts of a project are going to be complete, it’s difficult to be confident that your project will get done on time. Will the different team members get their part of the project done? Will you have to bug them about it as their individual deadlines come due? That uncertainty can easily lead to feelings of anxiety for project managers.

4. Frustration Between Project Managers and Team Members

It’s no fun to be a project manager who has to constantly bug team members about tasks, deadlines, or overdue deliverables. Likewise, if you’re a team member struggling to complete your part of a project, the last thing you need is an email from your project manager with the subject line “Status?” This kind of “project management by status update” process can quickly become a source of tension between employees and managers.

5. Fire Drills

Your team is working on a project. But your boss just came in with something urgent. Does your team have the bandwidth to complete the task? How long will it take? Will it require overtime? What will be the impact on the other projects your team is working on? Without a clear view of your team’s activities, these questions won’t be easy to answer.

Here’s How a Project Management Software Can Help…

In teams with a good project management system, the status of everyone’s work is easy to see. The project manager will have reliable, easy-to-use project management software and will be able to see everything that’s happening with your projects. If you sell consulting as a service, you’ll also be able to use professional services automation (PSA) to see and schedule the resources your company has available to deliver your services. It’s no fun to work on a team where everyone feels like there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. If you know the frustration of trying to keep your team on track without a good project management system, there are tools that can help.

Project management software will help your team work smarter, together. We hope you’ll consider trying ours, which can help any team get more work done in less time with less stress for everyone.

Complete Guide to Resource Leveling vs. Resource Smoothing In Project Management

Complete Guide to Resource Leveling vs. Resource Smoothing In Project Management

Without a project resource management system, it is difficult for any project (or team) to succeed. It’s all too common to have resources from different projects overlap or for certain tasks to suddenly need additional people or equipment. When this happens, the project manager (PM) should be able to re-allocate or re-adjust as required. This flexibility is crucial as the average employee is severely overworked and burnt out due to unrealistic deadlines. In a 2021 global survey conducted by the consulting firm ADP Research Institute, they discovered that 67 percent of respondents experienced stress at work, up from 62 percent pre-pandemic.

While the primary goal of PMs is to ensure each project is executed as efficiently as possible to save costs, they also have to consider proper management of company assets and work-life balance for employees. Human workers are the company’s greatest resource, and their well-being should be a priority. This is where resource leveling and resource smoothing become handy. These two strategies enable PMs to look at their project plans and pinpoint problematic areas, like days when people are overworking or unrealistic deadlines given the available resources.

In this article, we’ll walk you through resource smoothing vs. resource leveling, their advantages/disadvantages, and the situations where these methods work best.

The resource management process

First, it’s important to understand the process of resource management, which involves planning, scheduling, and allocating people, technology, and money to a project. Resource management is crucial because it helps PMs prepare an inventory of existing resources, pinpoint gaps or missing information, and prioritize allocation based on the needs of different projects.

This process has three main components: resource allocation, resource leveling, and resource smoothing. The first step is resource allocation, where team members are assigned specific tasks based on their strengths and expertise. This is the planning stage, where resources are strategically placed to optimize the timeline. 

However, projects might encounter resource and time constraints for various reasons. Resource leveling or smoothing is a method for anticipating these challenges and applying the right solutions and adjustments.

Here is a quick video on how resource management can work in a Professional Services Automation or Project Management Software.

What is Resource Leveling?

Based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, resource leveling helps PMs evenly allocate resources by adjusting a project’s start and completion dates. This strategy ensures that no one is overworking, the equipment is available, and requirements are made clear so that there are no additional costs to the project. 

Leveling works best when there are limited resources and the PMs want resource usage at a constant level. That’s why this technique is sometimes referred to as resource constrained scheduling (RCS). 

There are several factors that will help PMs apply resource leveling effectively. First is knowing the dependencies or the relationships between tasks. For example, which activities must be completed before the team can move on to the next? Another factor to consider is the resource conflict. What is the main issue that needs to be solved? Is it human resources, equipment, or technology? 

Finally, it is also important to look at the different types of constraints. Is it mandatory (physical limitations like lack of equipment), discretionary (team members’ preferences or actions), or external (third-party challenges)? Only after figuring out these factors can PMs create a resource leveling plan that adequately addresses the pressing concerns of the project.

According to Online PM Courses, here are some of the things PMs can do during resource leveling:

  • Delay start times
  • Extend planned duration
  • Remove some tasks
  • Allocate additional resources
  • Split tasks up
  • Bring tasks forward
  • Assign alternative resources

In addition, there are also specific instances where resource leveling can be used:

  • There is no fixed deadline (e.g., the project can be finished within the first quarter of the year).
  • A resource has to be shared with another project (e.g., some teams have to work on another website for a few weeks).
  • A resource is highly in-demand (e.g., laboratory equipment has to be used for three projects simultaneously).
  • A resource is unavailable for a certain time (e.g., a subject matter expert won’t be available to consult until they return from their holiday).

Basically, resource leveling answers this question: Given the resources you have, when will you be able to complete the project?

Watch the complete video about What is Resource Leveling from OnlinePMCourses here:

Advantages and disadvantages of resource leveling.

Aside from re-balancing resources, leveling can offer several advantages:

  • Identifying under-allocated or unused resources 
  • Maximizing downtimes
  • Reducing project delays
  • Team members can have one centralized reference that they can use to adequately prepare for their next tasks.
  • Team members are working on areas/tasks that best suit their expertise

However, there might also be disadvantages to this technique, mainly because something has to be sacrificed, whether cost, scope, or time.

Other disadvantages:

  • Risks of tasks delays and budget overruns
  • Can be tricky to re-shuffle some tasks, especially if they’re all critical
  • There might have to be additional resources (whether labor, time, or budget)

Example scenario of resource leveling:

Suppose a project is planned to be completed in two days. It has three activities (A, B, and C), and each activity takes 8 hours to complete. 

Activities A and B can be done by one employee (Alex) and C by another (Jane). 

At first, it would seem like A and B could be performed at the same time by Alex. However, it would take Alex 16 hours to complete both activities. This situation would lead to him being overworked on the first day.

To address this, the PM decides to extend the project to three days instead of two. Activity B is then moved to Day 2 to give Alex enough time to finish each task and evenly allocate working hours.

Resource leveling methods

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of resource leveling, let’s look at the different methods or techniques that PMs can use, depending on the urgency of the situation. There are three main methods: critical path analysis, fast tracking, and crashing.

Critical path analysis (CPA). This most common technique comprises mapping out every critical task needed to finish a project. This process includes identifying how long it would take to complete each task and the other tasks dependent on each other. CPA is a good tool to ensure that deadlines are realistic.

The first step in CPA is to define all project tasks (both critical and non-critical), and the maximum and minimum times it would take to complete these tasks. It’s also important to include slack time (or float) in the calculation to come up with a reasonable deadline.

A timeline is then created to track each task using Gantt and bar charts. CPA is often used in industries that have complicated processes. However, most CPAs are now automated using resource management software.  

Fast-tracking. This resource leveling technique compresses schedules so that some tasks are completed simultaneously instead of sequentially. For example, if certain activities are not dependent on each other, they can be done on the same day. This method is particularly helpful if there is simply not enough time.

One example of this technique is creating different prototypes before a design has been approved. However, while this can save some time in the beginning, it does have the risk of being reworked if there are mistakes or massive changes to the design.

Crashing. This method is often considered the last resort, particularly if fast tracking is still insufficient. The idea behind crashing is to shorten the project duration by adding more resources (e.g., labor and equipment) with the least possible cost, including hiring extra staff or paying a premium to acquire a service faster.

This technique can become expensive real quick, so it’s best to use it when there are no other options available or when a project can no longer afford to miss its deadline.

The chart below summarizes the main differences between resource leveling vs. resource smoothing in project management.

 

Resource Leveling Resource Smoothing
The finish dates of the project can change The finish dates of the product stay the same.
Critical paths change, mostly increasing. You can pause activities within its float boundaries.
Scheduling when resources are under or over-allocated. Scheduling is based when resources are unevenly allocated.
The main constraint is your resources. The main constraint is your project end date.
Resource leveling can be implemented for tasks on the critical path. With resource smoothing, you don’t alter the critical path.
Resource leveling is usually scheduled first. Resource smoothing is often performed after resource leveling.

What is resource smoothing?

We’ve discussed resource leveling and when to use it, let’s now look at the other resource optimization technique: resource smoothing. Some people might be confused about when to use resource leveling versus smoothing because they have very subtle differences. 

Resource smoothing is used to balance the peaks and troughs of individual tasks after they have been leveled or re-allocated. Whereas resource leveling deals with the question of resource constraints, smoothing deals with time constraints (which is why it is also known as time constrained scheduling (TCS)).

Here are some instances where resource smoothing works best:

  • There is a fixed deadline (e.g., the tasks have to be completed within their allotted timeline).
  • The resources have been properly re-allocated, and the critical tasks can no longer be re-shuffled.
  • Only minor tweaks are needed to smooth out the timeline (e.g., slight changes in working hours).

Advantages and disadvantages of resource smoothing

While often done at the last stages of the project, resource smoothing is a good tool to keep everyone on track. This method is particularly crucial since the project can no longer afford any delays at this point, particularly for critical activities.

Advantages:

  • Project sticks to its assigned timelines
  • Tasks are monitored well 
  • Fewer ambiguities and unexpected factors that can affect the overall schedule

Disadvantages 

  • No more room for flexibility
  • Increased pressure to stick to the timeline
  • People have to commit to their work schedules as best as they can

Example scenario of resource smoothing:

A project must be completed within three days and is once again assigned to Alex and Jane. They can both work on the project simultaneously, without any activity dependencies. The PM notices that on Day 1 and Day 2, Jane is working 10 hours while Alex is working for only 6 hours.

The PM then re-arranges the tasks on Days 1 and 2 so that they’re evenly distributed (as much as possible) between Alex and Jane. This strategy would ensure that both employees are not overburdened and can maintain the quality of their output to finish the project on time (Day 3).

The important thing to remember on resource optimization is to understand the main challenge the project is facing. Sometimes, these two techniques are done simultaneously to ensure that issues are being addressed in a timely manner. Like everything around project management, there is a time for flexibility and a time to stick to the plan.

Find out how Resource Leveling & Resource Smoothing can be done in resource management tool.

If you want a resource management tool that’s automated, flexible, and highly customizable, Klient can build one to tailor it to the needs of your business. We can help you take control and manage staffing, and allocate tasks appropriately and intuitively.

Resource Management in a PSA Software for a specific project

Resource Management in a PSA Software for all your project.

We’d love to help you out. Schedule a demo with us.

Everything you need to know about Resource Histogram for Project Management

Everything you need to know about Resource Histogram for Project Management

  • What is a Resource Histogram?
  • Why Use a Resource Histogram?
  • What Can You Do With a Resource Histogram? An Introduction to Resource Leveling and Smoothing
  • How to Build a Resource Histogram on Excel/Google Sheets?

Project management is a complicated beast, mainly because it requires monitoring resources. And resources – whether people, time, or money – can rapidly disappear. However, with a resource histogram, project managers (PMs) don’t have to panic. That’s because they know exactly where the budget is going daily and where they might tweak things to get the project back on track. 

Resource histograms are just one way PMs streamline processes and protect themselves from unexpected situations. Fortunately, companies seem to be catching up to the importance of being prepared. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), wasted funding due to poor project management (e.g., budget overshoots, scope creep, and missed deadlines) has declined to 9.4 percent in 2021 compared with 11.4 percent in 2020. 

In this overview, we’ll walk you through your burning questions about resource histograms, how to build and implement one, and how you can take advantage of these tools to get the best results possible.

What Is a Resource Histogram?

A resource histogram is a visualization and statistical tool used to manage resources. Typically, a simple table might give you an idea of how your resources are monitored daily, but it’s hard to visualize information that way. (Also, let’s face it, tables can be boring). By turning your tables into resource histograms, you can easily see at a glance how well you’re keeping everything on track and if daily costs are exceeding the budget.

You might have guessed it, but the first step is establishing the resource cutoff per day. Without this clarity, it can be very easy to overshoot spending or over-allocate. Next is creating a “table of dependencies,” where details like types of activities, how long these activities will take, and how much they will cost per day are recorded. From this information, you can create a Gantt chart to visualize the data. 

Most people stop at this part. But if you take a step further and create a histogram, then you can have a better guide on when to move resources around or when to delay the due dates. We highly recommend two great videos from Engineer4Free that explain this concept really well. But, don’t worry, we will explain everything in this blog.

However, to give you a better context, we will explain the concept further with some nuance.

Why Use a Resource Histogram?

Aside from getting a cool visualization tool, resource histograms give you detailed information on the progress of your projects. In particular, some tasks are too complex and have many components; without a resource histogram, it’s like getting lost in a maze. The Gantt chart below demonstrates how you can have multiple activities/resources that overlap on a project. 

In this video, you can watch how a Professional Services Automation/Project Management Software replace a Resource Histogram with no effort.

When to Use a Resource Histogram?

The PM can use a resource histogram throughout the project. It can be a handy tool, even if it takes time and effort to create one in Excel. (It can even be manually created on paper, but it would be time-consuming and error-prone).

The resource histogram can help PMs figure out how profitable a particular activity is and which activities are interdependent. They can also monitor different processes and make data-based decisions. For example, they can determine which part of the project might benefit from added resources or have been over-allocated for quite some time.

Below are other examples of when a resource histogram is most beneficial.

  • You have a limited budget and must stick to it to the last dollar. Sometimes, budgets are incredibly tight, and overspending even for a few hundred dollars can lead to the dreaded scope creep (when unplanned tasks keep adding up, most of which were not initially included in the budget allocation).
  • You want to limit the number of daily resources assign for a project. For example, you have a specific role that executes a particular task and want to monitor that these tasks/roles don’t excessively overlap or get unnecessarily duplicated.

To demonstrate this, let’s say we have five parent tasks for the whole project.

Task Predecessor Duration Start Day End Day Cost / Day
Analysis 2 0 2 1560
Architecture Analysis 3 3 5 1680
Configuration Architecture 3 6 8 1680
Implementation Architecture 2 6 7 1520
Training Implementation 3 7 10 1400

 

In the table of dependencies below, you can see that each task/role is clearly specified per day, along with their corresponding budgets. Being detailed as much as possible helps to create relevant and accurate histograms.

Day Task Total Daily Cost
1 Analysis 1560
2 Analysis 1560
3 Architecture 1680
4 Architecture 1680
5 Architecture 1680
6 Configuration + Implementation 3200
7 Configuration + Implementation 3200
8 Configuration + Training 3080
9 Training 1400
10 Training 1400

 

This is the kind of table that is simple to do like this, but it’s a nightmare for a 6 months project. This is the kind of report that a PSA Software can generate quickly.

Pros and Cons of a Resource Histogram

While resource histograms are very useful, they also have certain limitations. For one, it feels outdated and should have been automated long ago. But resource histograms do serve a purpose, and PMs continue to benefit from this simple but informational tool. 

Pros:

  • They allow users to compare and contrast data easily.
  • The data can cover a long period range (e.g., monthly or annually).
  • They have commonly used tools, and references are easy to find.

Cons:

  • It can be difficult to compare different categories because histograms work best with one dataset over a long period.
  • They can require a lot of file space just to display basic information.
  • They can present misleading or incomplete data if the parameters are not clarified in the first place. 

What can you do with a Resource Histogram?

Resource histograms enable PMs to do two main strategies: resource leveling and resource smoothing. 

Introduction to Resource leveling

Let’s say you discovered through your resource histogram that there are three days where the project exceeds the daily budget or time limit. PMs can then re-shuffle major activities to move some tasks to the days below the resource limits, leveling the playing field and avoiding strains on teams.

When to use resource leveling

Resource leveling basically ensures that resources are spread evenly throughout all the client’s projects. Here are some examples of when to apply this technique. 

  • To maximize resources. As we described earlier, projects can have multiple tasks, and companies can have various projects simultaneously. With resource leveling, PMs can ensure that resources are re-allocated as needed. 
  • To give teams work-life balance. For groups overworking or exceeding time limits, PMs can either bring in other employees to help or push back the timeline to accommodate incontrollable delays (e.g., experiments and test results). 
  • To manage client expectations and output quality. PMs can efficiently update their clients on how resources are allocated while maintaining the quality of every deliverable. 

Resource leveling examples

Here are more concrete situations where resource leveling works best:

Moving a project completion date.

Let’s say a user interface (UI) developer team is refreshing an e-commerce website for re-launch within the week. However, a bug fix has been delayed for a couple of days. Since it is very critical to ensure that all bugs have been fixed beforehand, the PM can choose to extend the deadline to the following week. To make up for the lost time, the PM can maybe tweak the due dates of some minor tasks.

Moving a project start date.

A large project is due to start by next week, but the requirements/specifications from the client are still not complete. The PM communicates to the client that since they don’t have all the needed information yet, they will have to start a few days later. The PM then gives the client choices on how they want to re-allocate resources to compensate for the lost time caused by the client’s delay. 

Short on staffing.

A team of software engineers got sick at the same time, and a project needs to be delivered to the client by next week. The PM can then re-allocate some of the engineers from the other projects that are not due yet to help out in the meantime.

Introduction to Resource smoothing

Resource smoothing is usually done after resource leveling. In leveling, the primary constraint is resources; in smoothing, it’s time or schedule. After everything has been re-allocated, PMs saw that there were still some workdays that exceeded the limit within the new plan. The PM can then re-allocate tasks and teams without major re-shuffles, particularly in critical activities. 

Want to learn more about Resource smoothing and leveling? 

When to use resource smoothing

Smoothing ensures that things are going according to plan and that the project won’t have any more significant shifts or scope creep. Here are some examples of when to use resource smoothing.

  • The project deadline is set in stone. PMs can look at their histograms and ensure that work hours and labor are evenly allocated across the remaining days/months.
  • The critical paths/activities are not going to be affected. As long as the main tasks are going along as scheduled, then some small re-shuffles (a day or two) will be fine.
  • Some minor activities can be paused within their timeframe. To make room for other more crucial tasks, some activities can be slightly delayed without much impact on the overall project timeline.

Resource smoothing examples

To better visualize how this technique works, here are some sample situations where resource smoothing works best.

  1. The project is due within the week, and the PM sees that everyone seems to be working overtime on Wednesday. The PM can re-allocate the excess work hours to the other weekdays to smooth out the schedule.
  2. A website banner is due for review on Monday, but the Design Manager is on leave and will return on Wednesday. The PM can pause the review until the manager returns. Fortunately, the manager will still be able to finish the task before the banner’s scheduled to release on Friday.

How to Build a Resource Histogram on Excel/Google Sheets?

First of all, it’s much more simple to use a project management software or a PSA software to manage those. But I know that some of you are still using excel for those report. Now that we’ve gone through the background and essential characteristics of resource histograms, let’s look at how we can build them. We’ll start with a relatively simple example. First, we need to create a table of dependencies on Microsoft Excel. For example, the table below shows the number of employees required per month.

Resource Histogram - Excel

Next, select the entire table, including the titles and headings, and click the Insert tab. Under Column, select the Stacked Column in 3-D (under 3-D Column). (You can also choose the 2-D version, but in general, stacked columns work best).

Generate Resource Histogram with Excel

Our table of dependencies should be transformed into this:

Resource Histogram - Excel Graph

Source: Watch the complete video from Eugene O’Loughlin on how to Create a Resource Histogram in Excel.

As we can see from this basic resource histogram, additional information can be included, like extending the months or adding more roles/employees. This way, PMs can immediately see the months where employees would be needed more (e.g., July-September on the sample histogram). The team can then prepare in advance for these periods, including hiring additional staff if required.

Another way to read this histogram is if there’s an employee limit. For example, the client only wants to pay for 10 employees max for this project. By referring to the histogram, PMs can choose to shuffle specific tasks so that they are performed in the first quarter or last quarter of the year, where resource allocation is much lower.

For more information on how to build resource histograms in Excel, you can check this video out.

Resource histograms can be simple to create but can give valuable detail. It all depends on how PMs want to use and adjust them to the project’s needs.

Are you interested in a resource management tool for your business?

You don’t need to be an excel wiz to do this kind of report. This is why a solution like Klient can help you out. If you want a resource management tool that’s automated, flexible, and highly customizable, Klient can build one to tailor it to the needs of your business. We can help you take control and manage staffing, and allocate tasks appropriately and intuitively.

We’d love to help you out. Schedule a demo with us.

Klient Software Delivers Next Generation Professional Services Automation (PSA) Suite

Klient Software Delivers Next Generation Professional Services Automation (PSA) Suite

New innovations provide professional services organizations the easiest way to manage differentiated services with one unified platform.

Klient Software, a leading provider of professional services automation software delivering an intuitive and modern solution for professional services organizations today announced the latest release of Klient PSA, built 100% native on the leading cloud platform from Salesforce.

Introducing the Next Generation of Professional Services Automation

Klient PSA provides service organizations with a flexible, modern professional service platform that is quick to set up, easy to learn and can be customized to meet their needs today and in the future. New innovations for Klient PSA include:

Resource Management

It provides brand new functionality to easily search and compare both internal and external resources with an intuitive kanban style interface, comparing and filtering resources based on criteria including availability, rates, skills, teams, locations, practice and more –  enabling resource planners to search, compare, and propose multiple resources for further evaluation or booking to projects.   New Effort-Based scheduling allows resource planners to schedule based on percentage of work – taking into consideration any caps on project hours or time periods.

Proposal Management

The enhanced proposal management module enables the synchronization of project data back to the project after proposal updates or versions have been created – automatically synchronizing changes including resources, rates, costs, billing, and more.   Now you can create a Contract with a click of a button directly from a Proposal, including the creation of contract lines and project billing.

Contract Management

The new contract module delivers a complete contract management solution to track service contracts including contractual agreements, project billings and revenue methods, with the ability to create any number of contract lines to support multi-billing project scenarios or contracts that make up multiple projects with various billing and revenue models.

Punch Time Reporting – the latest release includes support for punch time entry – including the ability to automatically track clock in/outs on project and tasks, options for editing of punches, and complete support for mobile time entry to include punch time reporting.

Invoicing

The latest release include several new configuration enhancements including custom fields on layouts, summarization of multi-project invoices, support for line item taxation,

Expenses

Enhanced expense processing for those customers using multi-currency processing, now displaying the Exchange Rate used on the transaction with the ability for the user to override the posted Exchange Rate with the actual exchange rate imposed at the time of incurring the expense.

Integrations

New and enhanced integrations now deliver a seamless and real-time synchronization of project and billing data with 3rd party accounting and productivity suites including Sage Intacct, Sage Live, Oracle NetSuite OpenAir, Xero, QuickBooks, Microsoft NAV, Zendesk, Slack, and JIRA.

Curious to see Klient PSA in action?

Looking for a Klient PSA deep dive? Schedule a free demo with our team.

5 Reasons the Best Resource Management Software Lives Within Professional Services Automation (PSA)

5 Reasons the Best Resource Management Software Lives Within Professional Services Automation (PSA)

In the service-based business world, there are countless software solutions that can greatly improve your organization’s ability to get work done for clients.

Many options seem all-encompassing. Others appear to be so niche that they only manage one specific area of your business. It can be hard to focus on what your organization needs and even harder to make a decision.

In an earlier article about the differences between professional services automation (PSA) and project management (PM) software, we explained that a PSA system encompasses PM software and changes the focus from the project to the customer.

Here, we’ll explain the differences between PSA and resource management software — and why the best resource management software lives inside larger PSA systems.

1. Resource Management Software Is Just About Resources

Resource management software — or resource planning software — helps managers schedule their people for optimal utilization and workload distribution. This includes both at-a-glance scheduling and the ability to make changes to schedules on the fly.

However, that’s all resource management software does. Standalone systems aren’t tied into the larger strategy of your services business.

2. Professional Services Automation Includes Many Functions Across Your Business

While resource management software focuses specifically on resources, PSA systems include resource management as one of their many functions. This allows leaders to have greater visibility across the customer journey. It also gives employees easier access to the info they need to produce projects or work your clients will love.

Besides resource management, PSA should also include:

  • Accounting
  • Calendar management
  • Collaboration
  • Document management
  • Expense tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Project management
  • Proposals.

And that’s not all. Your PSA solution can also come with the familiarity and mobile-readiness of Salesforce.

3. A PSA System Within Salesforce Delivers Even Greater Service

A particularly strong PSA system will be built right within Salesforce, allowing your organization to easily access information across the entire customer journey, from the prospect stage all the way to billing and accounting. That includes seeing how resources fit into that mix, both for planning and for analytics after a project. Any employees already familiar with Salesforce will have an easier time picking up use of a PSA system built within a software solution they already know how to use. And that includes resource management software. Additionally, mobile access is also included with Salesforce for ease of use and accessibility.

4. Give More Visibility to More Employees (or Restrict It)

Having PSA set up within Salesforce gives leadership and employees the ability to see more customer information across the customer lifecycle. Sales teams, implementation specialists, project delivery teams, and even the back office can access more customer information right when they need it, reducing the slow-downs that come from interdepartmental inquiries via messenger, email, or intranet. However, for greater data security, customer information can also be restricted to only those employees who need to see it by using access restrictions. If sensitive customer information needs to stay hidden from certain departments or certain employees, it can.

5. Resource Management Within PSA Moves the Focus From Resources to Customers

In the same way that selecting project management software within a PSA system shifts the focus from projects to customers, choosing resource management software that lives inside PSA will do the same. Instead of only focusing on resources, a PSA system will incorporate your planning work into a central system — one where customers are the center of everything.

Conclusion

Selecting the right resource management solution for your business can seem complicated at first. But if you make that decision as part of your PSA selection process, you can quickly narrow down your choices.

You can have better internal visibility, stronger planning capabilities, more data security options, and a customer-centric focus by choosing a resource management tool within the right PSA system.

5 Ways to Reach 30-35 Billable Hours Every Week

5 Ways to Reach 30-35 Billable Hours Every Week

Billable hours are the lifeblood of any professional services organization.

The more billable hours your consultants log, the more successful you’ll be!

But It’s easier said than done… For a variety of reasons, consulting and professional services firms often don’t record as many billable hours every week as they should.

If your consultants aren’t billing 30-35 hours every week, here are some things you can do to improve the numbers:

1. Clearly Communicate What’s Billable and What’s Not Billable

What’s billable and what’s not? Getting this right is one of the fastest ways to increase the number of billable hours your consultants deliver every week. Do you bill for communication time? Emails? Phone calls ahead of a consulting gig? What about the time spent preparing materials for an on-site visit? Often these activities are not billed to a client. Some of them could be billed. But only if you clearly set expectations with your clients during the sales process.

2. Use Communication Checklists

It’s easy to tell your sales staff to “clearly communicate” with prospects. It’s not easy to get them to actually follow through. The easiest way to ensure communication happens is to give your sales team a checklist of items to cover with new clients. Require that they use the checklist with every new customer, check off the boxes, and turn it in with all purchase orders. That way clients aren’t surprised (or upset) when they see the items their invoice later.

3. Take Administrative Duties Away from Consultants

Consultants are often burdened by countless administrative duties. Emails, phone calls, planning sessions, internal conference calls, quarterly check-in calls, appointment confirmation calls, and on and on.Some of these things are necessary. But some could be delegated to administrative staff. The more “non-billable” activities you can take away from your consultants, the more money they can make for you.

4. Assign Team Members Based on Skills and Availability (Not Just Assigned Accounts or Territories)

Out of convenience, leadership in many service delivery firms assign work based on territories, size-of-company, or pre-existing relationships. While common, these approaches can easily lead to major workload imbalances a your consulting or professional services team. One team members might be booked for months. Another might be sitting around watching training videos. There’s nothing wrong with training of course. But with a bit of planning, most consulting teams could do much better at allocating their resources. This is one way using a professional services automation (PSA) tool can lead to major improvements in revenue.  In Klient Software’s PSA solution, resource planners can see everything they need to know to assign resources—all at a glance. Each consultant is tagged with his or her specific skill set. And a visual, drag-and-drop calendar makes it easy to make assignments—in a way that maximizes the resources you have available.

5. Enforce the Use of CRM and PSA Tools

The tools you provide your team can provide significant increases in efficiency (and revenue) if utilized. The easiest way to enforce the use of the tools you provide your team is to say: “If it’s not logged in the system, it didn’t happen. “That’s usually motivation enough to get your team to use their CRM or PSA tool—especially if they’re paid on commission or eligible for bonus pay for performance.

So… What can you Do ?

  1. Take some time today to evaluate the number of hours each of your consultants are billing.
  2. Even better, set up a regular report that tells you the average hours your consultants bill every week.
  3. If the average isn’t 30-35 hours per consultant, it’s likely you’re leaving money on the table. Use the tips in this article as a starting place to improve your numbers—and your revenue.

… and if you want the ultimate shorcut, why not scheduling a  Klient Demo?
You’ll will see all the amazing features klient has to offer, including the one to “Make your billing easier”.

Stay sharp! – Klient team