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.
For those who have followed Salesforce through the years, they know the #1 CRM in the world always set ambitious goals in terms of growth.
Here’s some highlights:
- Produce $1.6 trillion in new revenues for customers by 2026.
- They Expect to grow partner revenues to 3.5 times what they were in 2020
- IDC predicted the Salesforce Economy will generate 9.3 million new jobs by 2026
Salesforce realease their new research from IDC detailing how they will drive nearly 9.6 million new jobs (yes, you read that right) and more than $1.6 trillion in new revenues for customers by 2026. Following the pandemic, their focus is not only about the jobs and revenue growth, but also to provide support their partners.
The ecosystem of companies supporting Salesforce customersʼ implementations is five times as big as Salesforce itself today and will be more than six times as big
in 2026. With 2026 ecosystem revenue forecast to be 3.5 times that in 2020, the challenge will be finding talent.
The growth of cloud software2 suffered little from the pandemic, growing 22% worldwide
in 2020, while on-premises software growth fell to zero. This year, cloud-delivered
software will be 43% of the software market, and by 2026, it will be 61%.
Read the full article here.
Download a full copy of the IDC: Salesforce Economy 2021
Evaluating a new software for your business can be a challenging process.
Software tends to be a substantial investment for companies, and as such, requires a comprehensive evaluation process to ensure the right product is selected. Choosing the incorrect software can be costly for a business, so it is important to evaluate options thoroughly in order to make the best selection possible and choose a software that will maximize your return on investment.
When it comes to Professional Services Automation (PSA) software, there are numerous products on the market to choose from. However, the software evaluation process can be made easier with careful preparation and an emphasis on the 3 following considerations throughout the evaluation phase:
1. For each software you evaluate, ask yourself, “Will this software solve the business outcomes that I’m looking to achieve?”
You may evaluate software with a multitude of fancy features and functionality, but unless those features help you achieve the business challenges you’re trying to fix, all of the functionality in the world isn’t going to add value to your company. You may find that a simpler product with less overall features, is actually the one that has the right functionality to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for.
Helpful Tip: Before you begin evaluating any PSA software, create a list of the outcomes your business is looking to achieve. Then make a list of must-have features that will help you accomplish your desired outcomes. You may also wish to make a secondary list of “nice-to-have” features that could add value to your business in other ways, but are not necessary for achieving your imperative business outcomes.
2. Include representatives from every department who will utilize the software in your evaluation process.
By including members of all teams that will utilize the software, you not only ensure that the final selection will achieve the outcomes needed by each team, but you also ensure you are getting buy-in from the people who will ultimately be using the software. If you select a software in a silo, you run the risk of certain departments choosing not to effectively adopt the software, which will ultimately affect your return on investment.
Helpful Tip: Select a key member of each department that will use the PSA software you select. Likely this will include at the very least a services team member, a finance team member, a sales team member, and perhaps an IT team member. Make sure that you clearly define what outcomes each of these departments hope to achieve with the software, and then evaluate options keeping in mind which ones have features and functionality that will be most beneficial to each team. To learn more about motivating employees to make effective use of a new PSA software, read our blog here, “Strategies to Encourage Employee Adoption of PSA.”
3. Know what questions you want to ask the vendors, and approach them with specific elements that you want their product demo to address.
If you don’t let the vendors you approach know what you’re looking for, they will likely overwhelm you with a flood of information about their product that isn’t relevant to your evaluation process. When you become overwhelmed with facts about products and find yourself reading through pages of information on various features and functionality, it can become difficult to determine what product is actually best for helping you solve your business challenges.
Helpful Tip: When you approach a software vendor, get right to the point. Tell them what business outcomes you need to achieve, let them know what functionality you’re looking for in a product in order to achieve this outcome, and ask them to set up a demo for you that will walk you through exactly how their product can help you achieve your desired outcomes.
If you’re evaluating a PSA software for your business and would like to see a comprehensive demo of Klient PSA, please contact us here: https://klient.com/request-demo/
Most service companies understand that project management is imperative and that having software to help keep tasks on track can be beneficial to delivering successful projects.
But many service businesses today are going a step beyond project management (PM) software and implementing Professional Services Automation (PSA) software instead, to manage the entire lifecycle of a project from sales through service delivery.
The Difference Between Project Management (PM) Software and Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software:
There are many similarities between project management software and PSA software. In fact, a PSA software will include project management features and functionality. The real difference is that PSA offers so much more, and helps service businesses manage all the ins and outs of their projects, including resource planning, scheduling, utilization tracking, time and expense tracking, cost management, approval process management, task scheduling and completion, team collaboration, client feedback and surveying functionality, and more.
To learn more about distinguishing project management software from PSA software, read our blog here: What’s the Difference Between PSA and PM Software?
Breaking Down The Use Cases For Professional Services Automation:
PSA is used for a wide variety of reasons and helps service businesses accomplish a number of things:
1. Managing Project Details
With PSA software, as soon as your sales team gets involved with the deal, they can start entering important details about the project requirements into the CRM. By choosing a PSA software that integrates with that CRM, or that is built native on the CRMs platform (i.e. Klient Software is built 100% native on Salesforce), your Services team will then have access to all of the project details as soon as the project is sold and handed over to them for implementation.
2. Task Scheduling and Completion
When it comes to successful project implementations, tracking tasks is one of the first things that typically comes to mind. That’s because there are usually a lot of moving pieces and steps that need to happen between the project start date and the go-live date. By using a PSA tool to track tasks, it’s easier for project managers to assign the different steps in project completion, set due dates, and track progress.
3. Creating Estimates and Identifying Timelines
When you’re preparing a quote, timeline, or project overview for a client, a PSA tool will help you give an educated prediction of the resources—time, employees, budget—needed to complete the task. When used properly, your PSA software takes the guesswork out of your projected timeline and instead leaves you with a blueprint from start to finish. This means more accurate estimating for budgets and profits as well as timelines. And, satisfied customers.
4. Employee Planning and Scheduling
An intricate part of project management is tackling resource allocation. It takes several moving pieces to take a project from start to finish, and the planning process requires identifying and assigning the best possible resources to the job. A great PSA Software will help you not only to plan who will be tasked with what—and when—it can also help you coordinate schedules between multiple team members who may need to work together on certain parts of the project. With Klient Software’s resource planning functionality, you can also select resources for a project based on assigned skills, geographical location, and more.
5. Forecasting and Reporting
Having data on hand about your projects is key to their success, as well as the success of future projects. Forecasting and reporting allows you to identify problem areas before they arise and keep projects on track and on budget, helping your service business be as profitable as possible. Detailed reporting in a PSA software will help you see where projects went off track in the past and help you learn from your mistakes moving forward.
Selling services is not like selling products…
When you sell a product, all you have to do is deliver it. As long as you have stock on-hand, you can fulfill the sale immediately. Sell a service and your work has only just begun. For example, let’s say you sold a 2-day consulting package to a client in another state. You have five consultants on staff. You (or someone in your organization) will have to find a time that works for both your client and for one of your consultants. Travel arrangements will have to be made. Lodging, meals, and a hundred other details will have to be sorted out. All to fulfill that one sale.
How PSA Software Is Different than CRM, ERP, and Project Management Software?
CRM software stops once you’ve made the sale. It’s great at managing a pipeline and estimating revenue. But if you sell services, a CRM system doesn’t help you schedule your human resources after a sale has been made. Project management or ERP software can help with the scheduling side of things. However that means you’ll be managing the same clients out of two completely different systems. When you make a sale, someone at your organization will have to transfer data from your CRM system into your project management or ERP system.
That’s a process that’s inefficient and likely to have errors. Professional Services Automation (PSA) software gives you one system to manage both prospects and clients, without having to transfer data between systems. It doesn’t mean you have to drop your current CRM provider. If you use Salesforce.com, you can simply add a service like ours, which works natively on the Salesforce platform.
Is PSA Software Right for My Company?
Here are 5 questions to ask:
1. Are “People” Required to Fulfill Your Product Orders?
The first thing is to be clear about what you’re selling. If you sell services directly, people are your product. In that situation, having PSA software will help you better manage both the sales process and the delivery of your services. If you sell products, you still might need to manage human resources to deliver those products. Do you have an install team? Do you require a certain number of hours of training or consulting for new customers? If so, your company could also benefit from Klient PSA Software.
2. Does Your Company Try to Accurately Predict Revenue and Expenses?
It’s not easy for a services company to accurately predict revenue and expenses. There are often many costs that go along with delivering a service, and those costs can vary widely depending on the client you’re working with. PSA software includes the ability to more easily predict both your revenue and expenses.
3. Does Your Company Use Salesforce.com?
Salesforce CRM is the world’s most popular CRM system. It’s AppExchange is also the leading enterprise software platform in the world. Companies using Salesforce CRM have access to thousands of applications that work natively on the Salesforce.com platform. That includes PSA software that works directly with your existing CRM database. Native Salesforce apps use the same infrastructure and database as your Salesforce CRM. They also have the same reliability and security standards.
4. Are Staffing and Turnover a Challenge?
Staffing and turnover are often sources of frustration for service providers. It can be difficult to know whether you really need to hire a new consultant or provider for your team. Will you have the work to justify the new hire? Or will you just be paying for someone to sit around all day while your sales team tries to fill the schedule? The best way to make good decisions about staffing is to have good data. PSA software can give you a comprehensive view of how many resources you’ll need in the coming months compared to what you have on staff.
5. Have Customers Ever Expressed Frustration While Trying to Schedule Delivery of Your Services?
Finally, there are your customers to consider. Is “scheduling” a constant headache? Have customers ever been frustrated trying to find a time that works for both their schedule and your team’s schedule? From a financial standpoint, logistics frustrations also kill referrals, which is usually a big driver of client acquisition for service companies. If scheduling is costing you referral business, PSA software can help your team deliver a smoother experience for everyone.
Ultimately, selling services is just like selling anything else—your customers have to see value in the service you deliver to them. PSA software can help your team deliver a great experience to all your clients. It can also help your management team make data-driven decisions about staffing and scheduling, instead of just trying to guess.
If you’d like to learn how to deliver more value for less expense in your service business, we’d love to show you more about how PSA software can help.
Time is money, especially for consulting firms.
This means that project management isn’t just a way to track what is or is not completed; it is also the best way to make sure resources are being used strategically, that output is maximized, and that progress is in line with projections and commitments.
In a consulting company, project management can help improve profitability and productivity by improving timeline and budget management, maximizing resources, optimizing processes, and ensuring consistent and timely deliverables.
Here are some of the best project management tips for achieving best-in-class consulting services:
Scope Thoroughly And Specifically
If there’s one thing that every consultant dreads, it’s a mid-project change in scope. One of the biggest threats to a project’s profitability is when the scope changes partway through a project and timelines and budgets get thrown out of whack.
Taking the time to truly understand a project and include a detailed scope of work in the contract can help to prevent the scope of work expanding without compensation. It gives you the opportunity to create change orders—including an updated budget—if a client comes back with additional changes not included in the initial scope of work.
But scoping a project should be equally as important in terms of your project management. Being specific about what is included in each stage of a project will enable your employees to do exactly what is required—no more, no less—for a more controlled output. Being specific about project scope within your team means you’re ensuring additional resources aren’t being used where they won’t result in actual productive business impact.
Don’t Start From Scratch When It Isn’t Necessary
Efficiency is key to productivity and profitability. Most consulting companies have aspects of their deliverables that are repeats in whole or in part of products already completed for other clients. Whether this is templates of documents, programming code, presentations, or other projects, it can be highly productive to prevent redundancy in your consulting company. This allows you to produce similar output with decreased input.
A helpful tip is to make it part of your project management process to identify what aspects of completed tasks may be reusable, and to have these items readily accessible to your team. It can also be helpful to tag tasks in your project management software or Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution that can be completed using one of these reusable documents.
Regularly Update The Client And Check-In On Their Satisfaction
Don’t initiate a project and then fail to check in until the deadline is approaching. Healthy project management requires regular check-ins to make sure the project is developing on time, on budget and most importantly, to the customer’s satisfaction.
A good tip is to identify which points of the project have the highest risk of throwing the project off course and the earliest points you’d be able to detect these threats, and to set—at minimum—check-ins at these points. It can also be helpful for consultants to choose a PSA solution that allows you to see at a glance the health of your current projects. A tool with surveying capability to routinely request client feedback and gauge their satisfaction level is an added bonus as well.
Keep Everything In One Central Location
Our next project management tip for consultants is to keep everything in a central location. Many consultants have fallen into the trap of using multiple file management systems including multiple messaging platforms (such as email, chat, or Slack) as well as CRMs to track conversations, DropBox and/or Google Drive to store documents, different file versions unintentionally saved on multiple devices, and so on. This can lead to confusion, inconsistency, and lost productivity.
Instead, part of your project management process should include managing documents, revisions, client feedback, customer information, and communication in a central location. A robust PSA solution like Klient Software can manage your entire services business on one platform. And by integrating with your existing CRM, ERP, and other applications, you can ensure that all of your processes are in sync.
Learn From Past Successes And Failures
The final, and perhaps most important part of your project management strategy should be a project debrief at the completion of every project. This debrief will help you and the rest of your company to understand what went well, what went wrong, and what processes can be improved in the future.
If you managed your project effectively, you should have analytics that show the progress of task completion, information about when budget was used and whether it was in line with projections, resource use compared to projections, and reports from any risks or changes that may have manipulated output. A PSA solution can be especially helpful in making sure you have this data available at the completion of a project.
The information from each debrief should then be compared to previous reports. Is there a part of your projects that your company predictably underbids? Resources that aren’t being used efficiently or that aren’t being given enough time to complete tasks? Steps of the process that tend to go slower or faster than expected? Analyze your data, adjust processes accordingly, and repeat what is working well.