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.
Billable hours are the lifeblood of any professional services organization.
The more billable hours your consultants log, the more successful you’ll be!
But It’s easier said than done… For a variety of reasons, consulting and professional services firms often don’t record as many billable hours every week as they should.
If your consultants aren’t billing 30-35 hours every week, here are some things you can do to improve the numbers:
1. Clearly Communicate What’s Billable and What’s Not Billable
What’s billable and what’s not? Getting this right is one of the fastest ways to increase the number of billable hours your consultants deliver every week. Do you bill for communication time? Emails? Phone calls ahead of a consulting gig? What about the time spent preparing materials for an on-site visit? Often these activities are not billed to a client. Some of them could be billed. But only if you clearly set expectations with your clients during the sales process.
2. Use Communication Checklists
It’s easy to tell your sales staff to “clearly communicate” with prospects. It’s not easy to get them to actually follow through. The easiest way to ensure communication happens is to give your sales team a checklist of items to cover with new clients. Require that they use the checklist with every new customer, check off the boxes, and turn it in with all purchase orders. That way clients aren’t surprised (or upset) when they see the items their invoice later.
3. Take Administrative Duties Away from Consultants
Consultants are often burdened by countless administrative duties. Emails, phone calls, planning sessions, internal conference calls, quarterly check-in calls, appointment confirmation calls, and on and on.Some of these things are necessary. But some could be delegated to administrative staff. The more “non-billable” activities you can take away from your consultants, the more money they can make for you.
4. Assign Team Members Based on Skills and Availability (Not Just Assigned Accounts or Territories)
Out of convenience, leadership in many service delivery firms assign work based on territories, size-of-company, or pre-existing relationships. While common, these approaches can easily lead to major workload imbalances a your consulting or professional services team. One team members might be booked for months. Another might be sitting around watching training videos. There’s nothing wrong with training of course. But with a bit of planning, most consulting teams could do much better at allocating their resources. This is one way using a professional services automation (PSA) tool can lead to major improvements in revenue. In Klient Software’s PSA solution, resource planners can see everything they need to know to assign resources—all at a glance. Each consultant is tagged with his or her specific skill set. And a visual, drag-and-drop calendar makes it easy to make assignments—in a way that maximizes the resources you have available.
5. Enforce the Use of CRM and PSA Tools
The tools you provide your team can provide significant increases in efficiency (and revenue) if utilized. The easiest way to enforce the use of the tools you provide your team is to say: “If it’s not logged in the system, it didn’t happen. “That’s usually motivation enough to get your team to use their CRM or PSA tool—especially if they’re paid on commission or eligible for bonus pay for performance.
So… What can you Do ?
- Take some time today to evaluate the number of hours each of your consultants are billing.
- Even better, set up a regular report that tells you the average hours your consultants bill every week.
- If the average isn’t 30-35 hours per consultant, it’s likely you’re leaving money on the table. Use the tips in this article as a starting place to improve your numbers—and your revenue.
… and if you want the ultimate shorcut, why not scheduling a Klient Demo?
You’ll will see all the amazing features klient has to offer, including the one to “Make your billing easier”.
Stay sharp! – Klient team
Today’s professional services organization (PSO) landscape is changing—employees are harder to recruit and retain, a globalized marketplace increases competition for clients, clients want more for less, and management can no longer afford to be focused on short-term firefighting instead of long-term strategy.
As a result, PSOs are shifting from a project-focus to a customer-focus, with an increased emphasis on ensuring client satisfaction throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. This means keeping customers happy from the time the sale is made, right through until project completion and go-live.
But how do you know if your client is truly satisfied with the entire service delivery process? One way services organizations today are staying on top of customer satisfaction, is by using customer health check statuses throughout a project’s lifecycle, in order to monitor customer sentiment and feedback at every step along the way.
What is a Customer Health Check Status?
A Customer Health Check Status is a means of assessing the health of a project in terms of meeting customer expectations, staying on budget, achieving project milestones and timelines, etc.
Most companies will track customer health check statuses using customer health scores. While every company calculates theirs differently, the important thing is to have a health score methodology that helps your company align your customer success processes with the outcomes you’re trying to drive with your customer base. However, if you’re not using a health score calculation method that uses predictive analytics, you’re falling behind many customer success pacesetters.
Why is a Customer Health Check Status important?
While there are many reasons a PSO may wish to track customer health, TSIA typically views 3 use cases for health check statuses:
1. Predict Customer Churn
Helpful categories to look at here can range from detailed product adoption analytics, such as knowing how many times a customer is logging into your application, or even the process it takes to complete a task. You could also have extremely high-level categories, such as a report of how many times a customer has attended an education session or has consumed some kind of formal training.
Knowing these key metrics can help you predict if a customer is likely to continue adopting your product or service and renew with your organization in the future.
2. Predict Expansion
It is just as important to know when your customers need more help, and there is nothing wrong with selling them more technology and services during their journey toward accomplishing their desired outcome. Like a good doctor, organizations focused around Customer Success should think about prescribing the next logical step in their customer’s journey with the goal of achieving progress and ultimately some success against a quantifiable and measurable business outcome. In some cases, this would require additional technology and services from either your company, or another third party.
The question is, do you know when it’s the right time to do this, and do you have the predictive ability to do so? Customer Health Check Statuses can help with this.
3. Predict Your Customer’s Business Outcomes And Use Their Feedback To Improve
The next logical step in the customer success continuum will be to use predictive analytics and feedback methodology to dynamically engage with your customers along their journey. As their organization adopts your product or service, monitor their feedback and suggestions along the way and use the information they provide you as a way to improve and help their business achieve greater success in the future.
PSA Tools and Customer Health Check Statuses
In order to easily monitor customer health scores, more and more services organizations are selecting Professional Services Automation (PSA) tools with customer health check statuses built into the functionality of the platform.
For example, Klient PSA offers the ability to 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 expand selling.
It also offers health check statuses throughout the project so that project managers and customers can visually see if a project is on track. Plus, with customer and partner communities, Klient PSA users can easily collaborate and engage directly with customers and partners for project success. This includes the ability to share project status information, work directly on projects and tasks, enable partner time & expense entry, share client invoices and more.
By increasing communication between the customer and the services delivery team, and by offering opportunity for customer feedback at every stage of a project, services teams can ensure they are meeting customer expectations throughout the entire lifecycle of a project and fostering strong customer health scores.
How Customer Health Check Statuses can Ultimately Improve Services Delivery
By listening to feedback from customers and identifying areas where things didn’t go as planned, or where projects were misaligned with customer expectations, services organizations can adjust and make improvements for the future.
A strong customer-centric PSA tool can support this by offering integrated customer feedback to ensure the project team understands how the customer is feeling and can take action if the client is unhappy at any point throughout the project. Plus, forecasting and reporting functionality in a customer-centric PSA allows for informed decision-making that will empower management to develop a business strategy that will keep customers satisfied for years to come.
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.
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:
- 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:
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:
- Deals in the pipeline
- 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.
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.