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.

The 4 Benefits of Effective Resource Planning for Service Organizations

The 4 Benefits of Effective Resource Planning for Service Organizations

In almost every services deal, the salesperson has to answer the question:
When can you deliver this service?”

It’s often a difficult question to answer. Sometimes the sales rep will just say: “Our average delivery time is three weeks.” Or the rep might step away to call a scheduler or project manager and ask when the next available openings are. The entire thing can quickly grow into an administrative headache for many salespeople.

That’s where resource planning comes in.

The Value of Effective Resource Planning for Service Organizations

Resource planning is simply the process of managing your available resources. In a service organization, that means figuring out who’s available when, and if you have the right staffing levels to meet demand.

Do this right, and you’ll see:

  • Faster delivery of services
  • Better client satisfaction
  • More sales

Better cooperation between your sales team, your service professionals, and your administrative staff

Make Your System Visible…

The best advice we can give you about resource planning is to make your system visible to everyone who’s involved in selling and delivering your services. That means your salespeople, administrative staff, service professionals, and managers should all be able to see who’s available when, and what obligations each employee is currently assigned.

When you build a resource management system that’s visible to everyone, it provides four key benefits:

1. It Gives Your Sales Staff Better Information

A good system will allow your sales reps to see what resources are available at any given time without having to check with anyone first. That way they’ll be able to answer a prospective customer’s “what’s your timeline?” question any time it comes up. This helps your administrative and services teams too. They’ll have far fewer last-minute changes and rescheduling requests for “important customers.”

2. It Holds Everyone Accountable

Any system will fail if your employees don’t use it, and a common complaint within organizations is that their reports don’t seem to match reality. Inaccurate reports usually happen when employees aren’t entering data into your company’s project management or CRM tools. And that happens when people aren’t being held accountable for using the tools they’ve been given. When you make resource planning visible to everyone, it will be more likely your employees will enter the data they should. If they don’t, everyone will see it, including you and your management staff, and you can take action to correct the issue.

3. It Makes Everyone’s Obligations Visible

Ever been asked the question: “Does your team have enough bandwidth to take this on?” Many managers will simply say, “yes,” without truly knowing whether their team can to take on a new project at that moment. This leads to “drop everything” and “fire drill” situations. A good resource management system will help prevent those types of fire drills.  You’ll have easy access to your team’s current workload, and you’ll be able to say with confidence what impact “dropping everything” will have on other projects. Letting everyone see each other’s current assignments also makes it easier for your sales team to overcome scheduling objections. For example, telling a new customer: “We’ll get back to you to schedule a time,” isn’t a great way to inspire confidence. Instead, it’s better if your sales reps can pull up a schedule and say—with confidence—“It looks like we can be there on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Which would work better for you?”

4. It’s Easier to Track Results

Business decisions are much easier when you know you have good data. It’ll be easier to find information and simple to create reports you can use to track performance. If you’re a manager or decision maker, you have much to gain by developing a resource planning system everyone will use.

Benefits of an Integrated Approach

Resource planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is a topic that deserves a bit of planning on your part. When you do it well, it will make everything in your company run more smoothly, and customers and employees will both benefit from the process. Something as simple as integrating your project management system with your CRM tool can go a long way toward improving your sales results.

If you’re a Salesforce user, we invite you to see what Klient’s next-generation PSA software can do for your project management and resource planning needs.

Always Feel Busy? 5 Lessons from Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Always Feel Busy? 5 Lessons from Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

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:

  1. How much value will the project bring to the organization?
  2. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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 Project Management Best Practices for Service Organizations

5 Project Management Best Practices for Service Organizations

Project management is challenging in any environment. But it’s even more challenging in service organizations.

When you’re involved in professional services, you’re working with limited resources, tight deadlines, and tight schedule commitments.

There’s travel to be considered, vacations, coverage, program development, and a hundred other variables not faced by companies that sell more traditional products.

The Two Functions to Every Successful Professional Services Organization

Every professional services organization has two essential functions:

  1. Sales
  2. Service Delivery

Other teams such as accounting, HR, or marketing exist to support the activities of the sales and service delivery teams. Unfortunately, in many organizations, it is difficult to sync the activities of the sales team and the service delivery teams. This results in all sorts of problems, including:

  • Sales reps who make promises the service delivery team can’t keep
  • Service delivery professionals who are either constantly over scheduled or sitting around waiting for work.
  • Scheduling headaches for both the sales and service delivery teams
  • Constant “fire drills” and shifting of priorities.

To combat these problems, do all you can to ensure your teams are in sync and working toward a common goal. Here are five specific steps you can take to help your sales and service teams work well together:

1. Let Sales Reps See Your Service Team’s Availability

The easiest thing you can do is to provide your sales reps easy visibility to the schedules of your service delivery team. This lets sales reps see exactly what human resources are available at what times. Most project management and CRM apps do not have the ability to show sales reps the schedules of your service delivery team. They leave your sales reps to give their best “ballpark estimate” when a customer is going to receive a service.

If you’re using Salesforce CRM, however, Klient Software can provide your team with professional service automation tools that provide the data you’ll needs to share this information successfully.

2. Have Service Teams Use Standard Packages Whenever Possible

Projecting the amount of time needed with a client is always a bit of a guessing game. But if you have standard packages to sell, it helps in a variety of ways. Sales reps can often sell a package easier than something generic such as “10 hours of consulting.”  Your service delivery team will save time in preparation; they’ll already have a standard set of services to deliver for each package. Managers will have a better idea of how long each engagement will take. That gives them better data for scheduling and sales projections.

Accountants can better project revenue, expenses, and profit, since they’ll have historical data around the finances for each type of project.

3. Track Standard Financial Indicators for Each Project

Not every sale is equal. Some services are more profitable than others. Ideally, you want your sales reps to focus on selling the service packages with the highest profit. To do this, keep track of standard financial indicators for each project fulfilled by your service delivery teams. The two biggest measures to track by project are:

  1. Revenue
  2. Expenses

4. Create Dashboards for the Executive and Management Teams

Dashboards help managers understand a large volume of data at a glance. Make sure they can see stats such as:

  1. Sales
  2. Deals in the pipeline
  3. Revenue
  4. Expenses
  5. Profitability
  6. Labor utilization

Giving managers good data enables them to make good decisions. Plus it gives leaders in both the sales and service delivery organizations a common set of data to work from for day-to-day decisions.

5. Communicate Expectations and Timelines with Customers, Then Deliver What You Promised

Your sales reps’ job to set and manage expectations. Your service delivery team’s job is to meet those expectations to the best of their ability. If you’re in a service delivery role, there’s nothing worse than showing up at a client who’s not happy with your company. You become a punching bag for complaints rather than a strategic consultant.

To avoid these problems, make sure you’ve given your sales team the tools it needs to set realistic expectations with customers.

The Payoff

In too many organizations, there is a communication gap between the sales and service delivery teams. Sales reps are doing everything they can to sign up new business.

Service delivery teams are scrambling with one fire drill after another, trying to keep up with the changing demands created by their sales reps’ efforts. All of this is caused by a lack of communication between these two vital departments.

Getting CRM and project management tools that talk to each other is one of the best ways to help ensure everyone is on the same page.

When your sales reps make promises your service teams can actually deliver (on time and on budget), it’s good for everyone, including the customer.

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.