How PSA Fosters Improved Team Collaboration For Services Organizations

How PSA Fosters Improved Team Collaboration For Services Organizations

Services organizations depend on team collaboration for success.

Between connecting the Services team members themselves, to cross-departmental collaboration with other teams in the organization (Sales, Support, Accounting, etc.), to ongoing communication with the client, there is no shortage of people that need visibility into a project and its status.

A Professional Services Automation (PSA) software with functionality that fosters team collaboration can make it easier for Services organizations to support open communication with internal and external stakeholders throughout the entire lifecycle of a project.

Communication Among The Services Team Members

Services teams need to communicate and collaborate amongst themselves in order to manage projects efficiently and effectively.

PSA software offers features that make it simple for Services teams to create visibility within their department and increase communication. Some of these features include project management, resource planning, and time and expense management. A sophisticated Gantt chart with functionality including full inline editing, rapid task creation, drag-drop of task sequence, quick predecessor creation by wbs or task name, task scheduling directly from the Gantt, configurable columns display, split-pane, and much more deliver an exceptional experience for managing projects and ensuring teams are on the same page when it comes to project deadlines.

In addition, choosing a PSA solution that integrates with the tools that organizations are already using to communicate can drastically improve team collaboration. Integration with Slack for example, is becoming increasingly important for organizations selecting a PSA software, because it allows teams to manage projects and services directly from within Slack. A PSA like Klient Software, for instance, allows users to view projects and tasks, drill into project and task details including project profitability and financials, create new project and tasks, as well as enter time worked against projects and tasks directly from within Slack.

Communication Across Departments

The most successful services organizations also work hard to improve communication across various departments within the business. Repeatable project delivery success relies on close collaboration between the sales team, the project delivery organization, the finance function and the client. PSA provides a single, trusted platform to manage deal scoping, deliver projects and track financials that improves outcomes for all parties and builds stronger customer relationships.

A PSA built on Salesforce, for example, can boost communication and transparency between your Sales and Services teams. This can drastically improve project scoping and estimating. And, by integrating with various accounting and ERP applications, a PSA software can succeed in aligning the accounting department with sales and services as well.

Communication With The Client

Perhaps most importantly, communication with the client is imperative to driving repeat business and creating long-term customer relationships.

PSA software enables better client collaboration throughout the life of an engagement, significantly improving the likelihood of the project being delivered in line with customer expectations. PSA formalizes the process of engaging the services team in the sales cycle, which promotes confidence on both sides that the project will be delivered as sold. During the delivery of the project, customer communication can take place in real-time, quickly resolving issues as they arise.

Krow Software, recently announced survey functionality for their PSA solution which goes a step further in fostering collaboration between the project team and the client. With Krow PSA, you can now create and deliver project and customer surveys including NPS, CSAT, or free-form surveys to analyze client feedback and sentiment, learn from project engagements, and help build long-term customer advocacy to increase retention and expanding selling.

Why A Customer-Centric PSA Is Best For Team Collaboration

A Customer-Centric PSA is designed with customers at the core, providing a way for project teams to work with each other, and hand-in-hand with customers from sales through service delivery.

Klient PSA offers a modern and seamless customer experience, fully transparent communication between the project team and client to ensure alignment of expectations with real-time two-way communication, integrated customer feedback through survey tools and project health check statuses, and real-time integration with back-office systems for more successful project implementation and greater customer success.

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.

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.