Essential Ways to Improve Resource Utilization in Professional Services

Essential Ways to Improve Resource Utilization in Professional Services

Resource utilization is one of the key measures that services firms use to gauge the efficiency of their businesses.

It expresses what percentage of their time people spend generating revenue for the organization. Since the vast majority of resources in most services firms are salaried employees, that time not spent generating revenue is still costing the organization money.

Whether you’re the VP of services, a project manager, resource manager, or consultant, you should know that utilization is critical to your bottom line, and always look for better ways to track it and improve it.

Here are a few essential ways to improve resource utilization for your professional services business:

Have the right people for the right job at the right time

Being “resource-ready” is about more than just ensuring your employee headcount is large enough to handle influxes of work. It’s also about knowing you have the best possible resources, with a variety of skills and experience under their belts, to equip you to handle projects of all types and sizes. Having the right team on the right project at the right time is what truly drives success for services organizations. It’s a huge piece of what keeps projects on track, margins in line, and customers happy.

One way to improve this is by ensuring your sales and services teams are working with the same data, in the same system, from the same customer record, so everyone involved has a view of current customer projects, staff commitment, and pipeline. The sales team will know what service levels they can promise, while the services team can see what’s in the pipeline and build the right staff to deliver.

Track utilization using the right tools

If you’re still using spreadsheets to track utilization, the time to stop was yesterday. Resource managers can attest that nothing throws utilization off its axis quite like the chaos of managing resources, conflicting schedules, and a wide-range of billable rates. Not only is it extremely time-consuming to use spreadsheets to track utilization, but it also sets you up to make numerous potential errors that could be damaging to your margin tracking and profitability.

To improve utilization tracking, look for a powerful and modern professional services automation (PSA) solution that will make it possible to automate utilization tracking with speed and accuracy.

Don’t forget to track utilization against profits, too

Tracking utilization in itself is important, but at the end of the day operating a successful professional services organization will not be possible if your utilization rates are at an all-time high, but your bill rates are going down.

In the professional services industry, utilization and profitability are two sides of the same coin. It’s quite simple to optimize one at the expense of the other, at least in the short run. Discount your rates heavily, and your utilization will soar, but to the detriment of profitability. Overwork your people without investing in training and professional development, and you’ll see great resource utilization today, only to see major drops in profitability next quarter. Figuring out how to optimize both at the same time is one of the real keys to running a successful professional services business.

This is another instance where it pays to have sales and services teams on the same page with access to the same data.

Leverage a PSA solution built native on Salesforce to keep Sales and Services in sync

By unifying all the data related to your customers, projects, resources, financials, all in one place, not only does it make calculating utilization and increasing it easier, but it accounts for every detail and ensures that your sales team and services team will have access to the same data and be able to work together for the greater good of the organization as a whole.

One way to improve the synchronicity between sales and services teams is to leverage a PSA solution that is connected to your CRM tool, like Salesforce. A modern PSA solution connected to your CRM system has become a no-brainer when it comes to boosting your utilization figures. Leading industry analyst firms like Gartner, Services Performance Insights (SPI), and Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), report that when organizations have a PSA solution integrated with a CRM, their utilization is 4% higher than organizations that don’t have the same system in place.

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.

Here’s Why Customer Experience Is More Important Today Than Ever Before

Here’s Why Customer Experience Is More Important Today Than Ever Before

More metrics are focused on customer experience than ever before. But if your overall marketing strategy isn’t designed around “customer experience” yet, you may have questions about how to get started.

Many experts have weighed in on the importance of customer experience in modern business. In this article, we’ll refer to a few published by Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Hubspot to better explain what it is and why it’s important.

We’ll explain what Klient has to offer to help your company deliver a positive experience for customers.

What Is Customer Experience?

Martin Zwilling of Forbes explains that while it used to be enough to focus on quality, value, and customer service, that isn’t the case anymore.

Today, the internet has turned the customer-company relationship into more of a relationship than ever before.

When organizations focus on individual touchpoints, they can falsely inflate their sense of a customer’s happiness. Instead, you need a comprehensive picture of the entire journey customers go through with your company.

So, if a series of individual touchpoints is not an accurate picture of customer experience, what is?

Hubspot’s Jason Bordeaux defines customer experience as “the impression you leave with your customer, resulting in how they think of your brand, across every stage of the customer journey.”

It involves many touchpoints, particularly between customers and your people or your product. But addressing one or two problematic touchpoints is not going to improve the customer’s overall impression of your business.

Why Is Customer Experience So Important?

The internet has changed the way companies interact with their customers in multiple ways.

There are more competitors available, and switching between them is easier since it can often be done with just a few clicks.

Customers also share their experiences publicly with friends, family, and any others through social media.

If a customer has a bad overall experience with your company, they can find another provider, switch to them easily, and then tell everyone they know online why they left you.

And they do.

Improving Customer Experience With Professional Services Automation

Delivering a consistently positive customer experience starts with having an easily accessible database of customer data.

Klient’s PSA software is intrinsically adept at capturing many types of information and bringing it together in novel ways. That includes information related to:

  • Accounting
  • Calendar management
  • Collaboration
  • Document management
  • Expense tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Project management
  • Proposals
  • Resource management.

It’s also built on Salesforce Lightning, giving your employees the best user experience possible to encourage adoption through ease of use.

Having one centralized system to manage all of these touchpoints sets up your organization to improve customer experience in four key areas:

1. At the Sales Stage

Services will have better planning and forecasting abilities with Sales pipeline visibility. This allows the two departments to work hand in hand as prospects become customers. It also creates better services opportunities via forecasting and opportunities management.

2. During Project Execution

Service managers can use that visibility into the Sales Pipeline to better manage resources for the right project at the right time.

3. At the Expansion Stage

Klient’s PSA system also supports repeat and recurring billing, allowing for seamless repeat transactions.

4. Promoting Retention and Advocacy

The system also uses built-in customer surveys and a customer health check. That way, everyone stays aware of the customer’s account status. Tracking the customer journey has never been easier.

Conclusion

Shifting your organization’s focus to customer experience might seem like a hefty task.

Or, if you’re already working toward a great customer experience, you may need an additional tool to push the customer journey over the top.

With the right PSA system, employees will have an easier time handling prospects and customers. Leadership, too, will have easier access to the information they need.

This helps your organization deliver a single, memorable experience that makes customers happy — and keeps them that way.

4 Client Retention Strategies for Professional Service Firms

4 Client Retention Strategies for Professional Service Firms

Service-based clients can differ wildly from purchase-based customers — especially when you want to build lasting relationships with them to create repeat business. That’s why client retention can be so different from customer retention.

Here, we’ve compiled four expert tips for how to retain clients that we believe are specifically helpful to service-based businesses.

1. Highlight the Human Component

While customer-based businesses often focus on selling the value or quality of a product, client-based service businesses can promote themselves as people who provide professional services with top-quality expertise, experience, or connections. The relationships between your organization and its clients helps ensure they’re happy enough to keep using your services.

As Joey Coleman, author of the book Never Lose a Customer Again, likes to say: “The fact is, whether you are B2B or B2C, the core of the conversation is that your business is H2H — human to human.”

Positioning your organization as humans delivering premium services to other humans can quickly change your clients’ perceptions of who it is they’re doing business with in the first place. This can give you an advantage that keeps clients invested in your business relationship beyond numbers and deliverables.

2. Focus on Clients Individually

The second “human” in the human-to-human strategy is your client, but typical customer retention metrics may leave your clients feeling like just another number. A capable professional services automation (PSA) system can help your organization focus on the client’s needs from front end sales to back end office management. Besides using powerful tools to keep clients at the center of your business, Mark Klein of Loyalty Builders Inc. explains client loyalty with a macro vs. micro concept. Rather than focusing on customer retention — a high-level or macro idea that looks at your entire client base as a whole — loyalty is a micro metric that highlights the value of each client individually.

Klein’s company evaluates every customer with a risk score, which focuses on the customer’s likelihood of making a purchase within the next 12 months. Your metrics may be based on your client’s likelihood of using your services again within a certain period of time. These measurements allow Klein’s company to incentivize customers, rewarding customers with higher loyalty, and making offers specific to each customer’s preexisting buying behaviors. Viewing each of your customers as individual assets will allow you to market to each of them in a way that maximizes the relationship — making everyone a winner.

3. Ask Tough Questions About Client Relationships

It can be easy to evaluate client relationships in terms of the rapport between contacts, but Mike Schultz, Co-President of global sales training company RAIN Group, recommends looking at the actual business value your company provides for each client. He suggests organizations ask a series of tough questions about their clients, including whether the client views you as a partner, and what your client would say if a rival service suggested your client replace you.

If you find the answers to these questions show that you’re an essential partner, you’re in a good position to retain clients long term. If the answers aren’t what you had hoped, you now have goals for where you want the client relationship to be. That may include developing the relationship to the point that they would never consider replacing you with another service company.

4. Keep Your ‘Why’ Close

An intuitive way to further develop the connection between your organization and its clients is to keep your company’s “why” at the forefront of your business. John L. Evans, Jr., Executive Director of Knowledge Labs Professional Development, explains that an individual’s “why” may be what leads to “purpose beyond self,” but that for an organization, the “why” leads each employee to “create extraordinary moments for clients” — something clients will see when it’s apparent your employees aren’t just going through the motions.

  1. If your organization has a mission statement or even an unspoken but deeply held vision, make sure employees know what values should drive their service delivery for your clients.
  2. If your organization doesn’t have a compelling “why,” get started on one by evaluating what your organization has set out to accomplish.
  3. If your employees don’t know why they’re fulfilling your service orders, your clients may not know why either.

Conclusion

Retaining clients for a service-based business may require a different strategy than retaining a purchase-based customer, but the end goal is the same: keep your clients coming back for more.

Integrating PSA With The Solutions That Drive Your Services Business

Integrating PSA With The Solutions That Drive Your Services Business

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/

Professional Services Automation (PSA) VS Project Management Software

Professional Services Automation (PSA) VS Project Management Software

How does Professional Services Automation (PSA) differ from project management (PM) software? And how can you choose the right comprehensive solution to run your business?

Here are a few key differentiators between PSA and PM.

1. PSA Puts Customers at the Center Instead of Projects

With project management software, the emphasis is on projects. PM software helps you track tasks and collaborate so employees can keep up with their day-to-day work. Your customers may see the end result of your internal team’s work, but that could be incidental. A PM tool could be purchased solely for the benefit of your employees, regardless of how it affects your customer experience. Professional service automation (PSA) puts customers at the center. The focus is on optimizing the client’s experience, not just on tracking individual tasks.

Because the system has multiple touchpoints with the customer’s experience, employees have greater access to customer information across the board, while customers feel more taken care of across the entire scope of your business.

2. PSA Connects the Front Office to Sales and Service Delivery

Beside providing your customer with an better end-to-end experience, a PSA system provides your employees with much better visibility across the entire service delivery pipeline. The front office, the back office, and every service employee in between can see what the other departments have contributed to the customer’s account, whether that’s contact information, projects working and delivered, or expectations for future services.

3. PSA Integrates Seamlessly From CRM to Accounting

Many PSA or PM systems can integrate with your CRM. But many of them also aren’t easily set up, a problem that usually results in service delivery being run separately from the CRM. A great PSA will include a strong PM feature set and integrate closely with your CRM. Klient Software is built natively within Salesforce, meaning integration isn’t a concern — it’s built to run together from the outset.

From the moment a customer is entered into the CRM as a contact, everything can run seamlessly with the PSA.

4. PSA Generates Revenue

Professional services automation systems are particularly helpful for generating revenue, for a few reasons. If you have billable hours or services and you’re using a Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) system, having a PSA system to help you adjust profitability, margin, bookings, and revenue on the fly can lead to easier and greater revenue increases.

Additionally, SPI Research recently conducted an ROI study on professional services automation. The results found that a $200,000 investment in software and implementation could lead to nearly $23 million in increased revenue and reduced costs, based on a firm of 172 people  — an ROI of 115 times the initial investment.

5. PSA Includes Many Other Modules Beyond Project Management

Professional services automation isn’t just different from project management — it encompasses it. But PSA also encompasses many other services and modules. This includes (but is not limited to) time entry, billing, invoicing, CPQ, proposals, document management, expense tracking, calendar management, revenue recognition, forecasting, and customer communities.

Because PSA includes so many more options than just project management, it’s capable of replacing many more systems than just PM.

Conclusion: PSA Is an End-to-End Service Delivery Solution

The right PSA system for your organization can provide or replace a PM-only tool while providing many additional solutions for your business. And because all of these tools work together within one PSA, everyone at your organization will have greater access to your customers’ information.

That means more profitable client engagements, increased customer retention, and more revenue over the life of the customer, just by using the right PSA system.