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 ?
- Take some time today to evaluate the number of hours each of your consultants are billing.
- Even better, set up a regular report that tells you the average hours your consultants bill every week.
- 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
Even the most world-class Professional Services Organizations (PSOs) with the best project managers and service team members will encounter problematic projects every once in a while.
When this happens, projects can run over budget and clients can become frustrated if the service team doesn’t turn the project around and get things back on track.
If you find yourself with a project that seems like it’s derailing quickly, here’s some steps you can take to resolve the issues, get the project back on track, and deliver a successful and complete project that will keep your client satisfied with the service you provided:
1. Identify the problem areas
When a project starts to derail, the first step is to identify what the problem is. Maybe your service team has hit a roadblock where they’re waiting on a piece of information from the client. Or perhaps there is a technical difficulty that needs to be resolved by another department within your organization, such as the IT department. Maybe the project was incorrectly scoped during the sales process and your service team is unable to deliver a complete project with the allotted hours dedicated to project implementation.
Whatever the problem may be, identifying it allows you to step back and look for a resolution to the problem. This is where a project manager should take control and resolve the issues at hand in order to get the project back on track.
A Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software can help a project manager identify and resolve project issues, because it helps provide a clear picture of the entire project lifecycle. Part of monitoring a project for success requires tracking a project’s estimate-at-completion against its budget. Doing so, acts like an early warning indicator, alerting project managers when a specific aspect of a project may have taken more effort than intended. For this to be effective, however, project managers need to maintain accurate resource management projections and visibility into the project in real-time. Using a PSA software can easily enable a project manager to do this.
2. Resolve the issues by making necessary adjustments
When you’ve identified that there’s a problem with the project, the worst thing you can do is hope that it will correct itself along the way and everything will work out in the end. If it seems unlikely that a project will be completed on time and on budget, that will most likely be the case unless you step in early and make adjustments in key result areas.
Some project managers will assume that a tiny setback will not have a large impact on the completion of the project. This may be true in some circumstances, however, tiny setbacks can often add up throughout the lifecycle of the project which means it is the responsibility of the project manager to adjust for these discrepancies and keep the project moving along smoothly.
One tactical action that project managers can take is to identify the project’s key result areas, also known as critical success factors in project management. These are the big-bucket items that must be completed on time and to a high degree of quality in order to achieve project success. Much like an intricate game of chess, project managers can shift around priorities to accommodate for discrepancies in the project’s plan.
For example, if you know that a client is more budget-conscious than time-sensitive, you may be able to play around with resource utilization in project management. You might trim the team to stick to the budget but at the expense of time to market. If scope or quality are factors that can be adjusted, you may be able to make small reductions that don’t jeopardize the ultimate goal of the project while still achieving your key result areas.
3. Include the client in the discussion as adjustments are being made
There’s nothing that will frustrate your client more than being told at the last moment that the team has used up all of the allocated hours for the project and the work hasn’t been completed, especially if the client was under the impression that things were running as planned. If your client has a strict budget for the project or a non-negotiable date for project completion, they will not be happy if they find out at the eleventh hour that there are issues with the project plan.
As soon as the problem has been identified by the project team, and suggestions for making adjustments have been decided on by the project manager, the client should be made aware of the adjustments that are proposed and sign-off with their approval of the changes to the project plan.
This transparency provides the client visibility into the project and ensures that they are less likely to feel blindsided later on if there are unexpected costs associated with their project, or timelines have shifted.
4. Use data and insights from problematic projects to ensure future projects run more smoothly
Sooner or later every project team will face a problematic project. Hopefully by taking the steps above you can turn a project around and successfully deliver a project that meets your client’s satisfaction, however, the best PSOs will learn from their mistakes and use the lessons they learn from problematic projects to make future projects run smoother.
A PSA software with functionality for creating detailed reports of projects, can help PSOs plan for better success in the future by using project data to understand where improvements can be made. In addition, a PSA software with the ability to send surveys for client feedback and create communities for clients to have visibility into a project can help you get a better understanding of what your clients are looking for and how to do better in the future. Project Health Check Statuses will allow you to quickly see your most successful and least successful projects and empower you to make changes where needed.
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:
- Calendar management
- Document management
- Expense tracking
- Project management
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.
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.
Revenue recognition is an accounting principle, which refers to how revenue is treated or recognized.
While relatively straightforward in many sectors, revenue recognition can be a particularly complex matter in professional services, due to factors such as work being done under an array of different contract models along with complex deliverables.
Organizations are required to account for billed vs. unbilled receivables and deferred vs. recognized revenue, based upon the specifics of each sales contract.
Generally speaking, there are 6 different models of contract structures that a professional services organization may use. And, often times, they will use different models for various types of clients or projects, resulting in a more complicated revenue recognition process.
- Time and Materials Contract Structures
- Fixed Price Contract Structures
- Not To Exceed Contract Structures
- Retainer-Based Contracts
- Recurring Service Subscription
- Managed Services Contracts
In order to simplify the revenue recognition process, it is becoming increasingly common for professional services organizations to seek out a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution that has revenue recognition functionality built-in.
How Klient PSA Can Help Simplify Revenue Recognition
With a Professional Services Automation solution such as Klient PSA, organizations can manage complex billing and invoicing situations by configuring rules that completely automate project billing—including fixed fee, billable rates, milestones, installment agreements, and recurring billing types.
Furthermore, users can also manage vendor bills and payments with ease. And, the services organization can recognize project revenue with revenue recognition templates and calculation methods. This allows the services organization to create multiple recognition rules per contract and project and simplify the process of revenue recognition.
To take full advantage of the features and functionality offered by a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution, it is highly recommended to integrate it with the other applications your project teams and business are using.
While a robust PSA platform on its own can bring much needed efficiency, integrations with other business tools your organization is already using can help visualize and manage all aspects of your company’s projects.
Research has shown that the highest performing services organizations excel in their use of integrated technology solutions. While many professional services organizations utilize financial management, CRM, and PSA solutions to efficiently plan, sell, and execute services, those that perform the best drive even better results through the integration of these core applications.
Information should be integrated so that it can be seamlessly passed from one application to another (for example, from CRM to PSA to ERP). This allows organizations to have a single source of the truth, with information constantly updated to provide an accurate view across functions and processes. Financial executives can ensure revenues and costs are aligned while service delivery can focus on productivity and quality.
By integrating CRM, PSA, and ERP, you allow your Sales team to see what resources are available and the status of projects to provide more accurate information to clients. Service delivery teams can see the schedule of upcoming projects and details of the client relationship to be proactive with communication, change orders and resource scheduling. And Finance gets an accurate picture of revenue and costs to ensure they are kept in balance so cash flow is improved and business plans and forecasts are accurate.
How Klient PSA Makes Integration Simpler
Built 100% native on the Salesforce platform, Klient delivers and supports real-time connections with the applications that drive services businesses, ensuring a customer-centric solution and the best professional services experiences for clients.
With direct integration into accounting software and ERPs like QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage Intacct, every minute of billable time is accounted for. Invoices can be automatically generated and managed, and clients billed directly.
Integration with other commonly-used business solutions like Salesforce, HubSpot, Slack, etc., will set every team in a services business up for success, as each will benefit from increased visibility and streamlined management of operations that contribute to faster ticket closing, higher customer satisfaction and dramatic jumps in productivity.
To learn more about Klient PSA’s integrations, visit: https://klient.com/integrations/
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:
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.
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.
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.
The latest release include several new configuration enhancements including custom fields on layouts, summarization of multi-project invoices, support for line item taxation,
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.
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.