As your Professional Services Organization grows and evolves, the software and tools you use to be successful will inevitably change over time as well.
Eventually the time will come when your simple time and expense or basic project management software will no longer be sufficient for running your business effectively, and you will need to consider implementing a more robust and comprehensive project management tool such as a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution.
However, changing the tools your employees have come to know and be comfortable with can often be challenging. It usually helps if you can encourage your team to be excited about the new software by showing them how valuable it will be in helping them do their job more efficiently.
Here are 6 strategies to consider when introducing new project management software to your team in order to gain their support and make the transition as frictionless as possible:
#1. Talk about it early and get your team’s buy-in
It’s important to remember that you never want to blindside your team with new project management software. Make sure they know new software will be coming as early as possible (even before you determine which software to purchase). It can also help to get team members’ feedback on features they’d like to see in the software. These conversations can help warm them up to the idea of a new software solution while getting them excited about the new functionality they’ll be able to take advantage of.
Be wary, however, about asking your team which software they’d like you to implement. By doing so, you’re likely to receive a wide range of responses making it nearly impossible in the end for you to select one that will please everyone. Instead, ask your team members ahead of time which features they’d most like to see. You can also offer them a list of potential features to rank in order of importance. Let them know you’ll use that feedback to find the right project management software for the team as a whole.
#2. Make sure the software you select is a true replacement for existing tools that are important to your team
Make sure your new software is an ample replacement for whatever tools your team currently uses to manage similar tasks. If a team member doesn’t feel that the software fulfills his or her needs, they’re more likely to continue relying on their old project management methods instead of making the switch.
You may be trying to replace 2 or more tools with 1 new and more comprehensive tool, but be sure to double check that the new tool will have all of the functionality that is crucial to your team’s success and that you aren’t taking away any important capabilities from them. Adding new functionality and creating easier ways of doing things is a plus, but be careful that you’re not eliminating capabilities by sunsetting software that is imperative to the team’s performance while offering no suitable replacement.
#3. Have the basics set up before you introduce the software to your team
The setup process for a new project management tool can be time consuming. Having basics in place, such as team member logins, project information, client information, etc., before introducing the software to the team can help things go more smoothly. It will make the migration process to the new software seem less daunting and will also provide real-world examples for your demo/training instead of hypothetical ones.
Remember that the less tedious setup your team has to do before they dive in and start using the software, the more likely they are to quickly adopt it and begin using it to its full potential.
#4. Make sure everyone receives appropriate training in advance of migrating completely to the new software
Each member of your team likely has different levels of comfort with technology and differing abilities for learning new software. Tailor training experiences based on the comfort level of your employees. Some may prefer to attend a web-based training with a support rep or a detailed in-house training session. Others may prefer to watch a couple of online tutorials then explore the software themselves. Whatever the method, what’s most important is ensuring each employee gets some form of real training. This helps to create positive first interactions, enables them to more effectively use the tools, and helps them to hit the ground running when it’s time to migrate to the new software.
It may also be beneficial to select 2 or 3 people from your team who are eager to learn new software, and generally adopt to new technology easily, to become in-house experts on your new project management software. These individuals can help the implementation process by answering questions that your other team members may not otherwise have reached out to support to ask, and can assist you in training the rest of the team.
#5. Allow a sunset period with the existing tool and give enough time for your team to switch over to the new software comfortably
It’s important to fully detach from the previous tool(s), but not immediately and not without warning. It can take time to fully move all of the information over and to migrate to the new system. It can also take time for your team to adjust.
However, as much as it’s important to allow time for adjustment, it’s equally important to have a hard stop date. With advanced warning, your employees can adjust and transfer information without feeling rushed. They are also less likely to hang around in the old system for their own convenience.
Set this stop date while in advance and make sure everyone on the team knows that they should ask the necessary questions and request additional training if they need to, in order to ensure they are comfortable with the new software by this deadline.
Is your team considering a more comprehensive project management tool?
The most mature professional services organizations and the ones who consistently deliver successful projects and foster long-term customer relationships, are those that offer high levels of organizational visibility across departments, have optimized business processes and integrated systems, focus on profit improvements, and have moved away from a one-time project focus to an increased emphasis on delivering great customer experiences for life.
These organizations have largely accomplished this by tracking 5 important and influential metrics for the professional services market. These metrics are not only imperative to a profitable business, but also critical in keeping customers happy through improved service delivery experiences. We recommend that all organizations who deliver projects to clients, start tracking these 5 key metrics immediately if you aren’t already:
1. Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant
Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant is a measure of a business’s total revenue divided by the number of billable consultants they employ. Understanding how much revenue each consultant is producing is a key indicator of financial success as well as consultant productivity, but it must be assessed in relation to labor costs. Revenue per billable consultant should ideally equal one- to two-times the labor costs of employing each consultant. Organizations with high annual revenue per billable consultant tend to do well because higher rates indicate better consultant productivity with respect to larger projects, more revenue in backlog, as well as more on-time and on-budget completions.
Tracking consultant productivity is key to improving customer success because you will have greater insight into when and how you should better utilize your consultants in order to improve their productivity and speed up project timelines and delivery.
2. Annual Revenue per Employee
Another core metric, Annual Revenue per Employee, is measured by dividing total revenue by the total number of both billable and non-billable employees. Similar to annual revenue per billable consultant, high annual revenue per employee is strongly correlated with profitability and efficiency. By measuring how much revenue each employee brings in relative to how much they cost, you can accurately determine the financial health of an organization. While not everyone on staff can provide billable services, it is important to be aware of the risks of too many overhead costs in relation to revenue per employee.
This metric can also be important for professional services organizations hoping to optimize business processes because business leaders can see departments where they may be spending too much money on employees, and can better re-allocate budgets to hire employees in areas that will make the business more successful. A successful business is one that has the right number of employees in each department in order to successfully manage client expectations and provide the support necessary to maintain loyal customers for life.
3. Billable Utilization
Employee utilization is defined by SPI Research on a 2,000 hour per year basis, and is calculated by dividing the total billable hours by 2,000. Utilization is central to accurately determining organizational profitability, as well as a key signal to expand or contract the workforce. By tracking work hours for billable employees, an organization can get a better picture of workforce productivity.
Your utilization rate tells you how much of your employees’ available time is spent on billable work. If this rate is too high, you likely need to add more resources. Too low and it means that you’re not bringing in enough work.
Tracking this metric can help you improve customer success because overworked employees are often tired, unhappy employees, and may even become so rundown that they are unable to perform to the best of their ability. On the other hand, underworked employees may become bored or uninterested in their work which can also affect the quality of the work they deliver. Both of these circumstances can be damaging to your organization’s reputation if the work your employees are performing does not measure up to customer expectations.
4. Project Overrun
Project overrun is the percentage above budgeted cost versus the actual cost of a project. This KPI is important because anytime a project goes over budget in either time or cost; it cuts directly into profitability. Whether a project goes over in either budget or allotted person-hours, it can limit future work and in many cases reveal internal efficiency or management issues, which also negatively impact bottom-line results. Project overruns are also detrimental to client satisfaction and even incoming sales opportunities.
By tracking project overrun, you can identify which projects are consistently going over budget, and identify ways to improve internal efficiency in order to manage projects better and stay on schedule. This will greatly improve your number of projects delivered on time, on budget, and to your customers satisfaction.
5. Profit Margin
Profit margin is the percentage of revenue which remains after paying for the direct costs of completing a project. Keeping profit margins high is essential as it ultimately drives overall revenue. Poor financial performance can often be directly correlated to low profit margins, as organizations are no longer able to invest in future growth activities.
An organization that has revenue to invest in the future growth of the company is one that can remain innovative, continuously enhance and improve their product or service, and foster long-term relationships with their customers. Tracking profit margin is therefore crucial to the ongoing success of a professional services organization.
Have You Heard This Somewhere : “We have to do more with less!”
If you constantly feel pressure to meet deadlines with your available resources, you’re not alone. The idea of doing “more with less” is a constant challenge for businesses in all industries. One common approach is to make better to-do lists, hoping project visibility will help your team work as efficiently as possible. That kind of work falls under “project management,” which is the art and science of “getting stuff done.” It’s important and can absolutely help you get more done in the time you have.
Sometimes, however, there’s just too much to do and not enough hours to get everything done.
If that’s how you feel most of the time, there’s another term you should know: project portfolio management (PPM). If project management is the art of getting stuff done, project portfolio management is the art of choosing what to work on in the first place.
Project Portfolio Management: The Art of Choosing What to Work On
Some companies have no process for determining what projects their teams should be working on. This can cause all kinds of problems, including:
- Intense internal competition for financial and staffing resources Lots of small projects going all at once Projects with frequent status changes (on-hold, high-priority, on-hold)
- Frequent rework and high costs with 3rd-party vendors
- Teams that feel overworked and underappreciated (and managers too!)
If any of those describe your business, PPM principles can help you better focus your team on the work that really matters.
Here are 5 strategies to consider:
1. Understand Where Project Requests Come From
Sometimes your team receives a work request without much context for why the work is needed. In those cases, the title of the person making the request often determines how high of a priority the project is. But in a context where your team already has more to do than time available, it’s good to at least stop and understand what’s driving the request. The project might be:
- Part of a larger strategic initiative for the company.
- A response to a problem with your company’s product.
- A response to an internal problem that’s keeping other people from accomplishing their work.
- A response to a move made by your competition.
- An opportunity with an uncertain future benefit.
Understanding what kind of request you’ve received will help you determine which projects to accept. When a “fire-drill” request comes in, accepting the project probably means putting everything else on hold. Having a PPM evaluation process in place will help you decide whether that’s the right thing to do or not.
2. Get Clear About Value and Capability
Here are two questions to ask when you receive a new project request:
- How much value will the project bring to the organization?
- Is my team capable of successfully delivering this initiative?
Try to only accept projects that you know will bring value to your organization. If you’re not sure, go back to the person who requested the project and ask questions until you know. It can also be tempting to take on a big project to give your team members a chance to “grow” their skills. But there’s a fine line between letting your people grow and simply not having the right skills on your team to accomplish a project.
3. Be Willing to Shut Down Projects
If you haven’t had a PPM process in place, it’s likely you have too many projects going on. Start by simply listing out everything that’s happening on your team or in your department. You might be surprised to find how many unfinished projects you really have going. Some of those projects won’t be worth continuing.
4. Be Open About Priorities
Shutting down projects means someone’s request is going to go unmet. That’s a difficult thing, especially in organizations that have never said “no” to projects in the past. Be open with both the project owners and the members of your team. You can’t expect someone to be happy when his or her project gets shut down. But if you let everyone know what’s happening and why, there’s a better chance they’ll understand.
5. Embrace Uncertainty In Your Decision Making Process
Finally, when trying to prioritize, it’s common to make accounting projections. You might do a payback period analysis or try to calculate Net Present Value (NPV) for a project, then rank each project by the numbers. The problem with this approach is that it can hide assumptions. Some projects have low uncertainty. You’ll know how long the project will take and what benefit you can expect from it. These are sometimes called “bread and butter” projects. Other projects will require innovation. You won’t know exactly how long the project will take or what benefit to expect. These are high uncertainty projects. Accounting projections like NPV can hide the inherent uncertainty in your projects.
Instead of giving each project a single value, present a range of possible values instead. That way you’ll be able to see which projects have a relatively certain benefit and which ones are more uncertain but might have greater payoff if all goes well.
You only have so much time and so many resources.
If your company is struggling to “get more done” with your current staff and budget, a Klient PSA might be the solution to improve your project management and project portfolio management skills can help.
Businesses have many choices available to them when looking at tools to manage work, including task and project management. While every organization can be unique in their requirements, we believe there exist a few core tenants that separate tools for managing work and project activities, to tools that can transform they way you manage your business and deliver the insight required to truly drive business performance.
Here are five reasons we believe Salesforce CRM is the best platform to manage your tasks and projects:
1. Improve collaboration and insight between sales, marketing, and services delivery teams.
By having all your projects on Salesforce will ensure complete visibility into upcoming project activity and project delivery in a single application, ensuring the entire organization is aligned on sales and delivery. By having upcoming projects available directly on an opportunity means the services delivery team can be better prepared for what’s coming down the pipe. Sales people can review project status and details directly on an account before engaging in sales activity that may be impacted by current project delivery.
Taking it one step further, by managing your marketing projects in Salesforce, the entire sales and delivery team can gain insight and be prepared for campaigns that may impact services strategy and deliverables in the coming quarters.
2. Better manage project planning and resource utilization
Understanding not only where resources are currently utilized with inflight projects, but also what resources will be required for upcoming projects are critical to resource planning and utilization.
By having complete visibility into upcoming projects from opportunities combined with inflight projects on accounts will help increase utilization and profit margins for services companies with better resource and capacity planning.
3. Work Smarter
Using the power of Salesforce dashboards, reporting, and analytics enables executives and delivery teams to have the insight into the status of projects and tasks across the organization.
Combining Salesforce CRM with Project Management data in a single application translates into a powerful tool to analyze where work is being done, the impact of utilization and margin profitability on accounts and territories, capacity planning based on services opportunity pipeline, and so much more in a single application.
4. Work without comprise
The power of the Salesforce Platforms means businesses can work the way they want, without comprise with the worlds #1 enterprise cloud platform. Project Management on Salesforce means you can meet the unique needs of your organization with the ability to add custom fields, custom formulas, create workflows and approvals; create dashboards and reports, and so much more. Work on your projects from any device – from desktop to mobile and everything in between with the industry’s leading mobile platform. Manage all your tasks, projects, reports, collaboration, and CRM data from one unified mobile application. Finally, have comfort with the Salesforce1 platform delivering enterprise class security and privacy support, with over 150,000 customers around the world.
5. Engage your users
Project Management on Salesforce is simpler, more intuitive, mobile, and built for the future. Designed for the way you work, no expertise is required to quickly accomplish a task or manage a project from any device. Increase user adoption by giving them a tool they want to use everyday, increasing productivity and engagement. The new Lightning User Experience is modern, efficient and intelligent, enabling people to work faster, smarter and the way they want.
Bonus: Klient is 100% Native on Salesforce
Here’s the good news… Klient is PSA solution built 100% native on Salesforce. This means that you get all the benefits of using a Salesforce PSA and the best business pratices from at the same time. Designed with customers at the core, Klient provides a way for project teams to work hand in hand with customers from sales through services delivery. Our platform supports the complete billable projects lifecycle, including proposals and contracts, project and resource management, time and expense tracking, project billing, revenue recognition, project accounting, and
analytics—all within a single, unified solution.
If you want to learn more reasons to use Klient PSA native on Salesforce,
click the link below to download our free brochure:
“7 Reasons to Run Your Service Business Natively”
Have nice day!