This is a guest blog from Alexandre Boyer and Julien Tozzi of Nubik, a FinancialForce customer and partner of choice to ensure your FinancialForce project is a success from initial implementation, to support and maintenance.
Managing project assignments for a team of 10 people is a relatively simple task, nothing an excel worksheet can’t handle. Combined with weekly project status updates, you can keep track of what’s going on: who is doing what, which projects need extra resources, when projects close and the customer needs to be invoiced, and so on. But as the projects multiply, the team expands, and roles diversify, it becomes inefficient with too much manual effort and lack of cohesion between different processes.
As a professional services organization, project management is core to our business. And, as the company started to grow, we needed to up our game and become more effective in how we track, monitor and deliver them. Working as project managers at different organizations for the past number of years, we’ve gained our share of experience with various tools on the market. Each time with mixed success. For example, some systems will provide a global list of all resource assignments, but no information about project budgets. Or, there is no easy way to track change requests.
This led us to a review process, to compare multiple systems in order to identify which solution would handle our requirements while giving us the most productivity gains in how we run our business.
FinancialForce PSA (Professional Services Automation) solution stood out from the crowd, and was quickly identified as our go-to. We’ve listed here the main areas of how we use the system to increase our productivity along the following axes:
- Creating projects from opportunities
- Managing tasks and assignments
- Project Planning
- Managing resources
1- CREATING PROJECTS FROM OPPORTUNITIES
Gone are the days when an opportunity is won and the project manager has to manually create the project and re-enter basic information such as the budget or number of project hours. A simple push of the button automatically creates the project, carrying over the budget and other relevant information. For those already using Salesforce as their CRM platform, this is even more magical! Opportunity and project data resides on the same platform and makes it seamless to access one from the other.
In addition, since the project is associated to the opportunity, managers can easily evaluate the status of sales bookings versus recognized revenues.
Another benefit of being able to create projects from opportunities is the ability to manage change requests. With FinancialForce PSA, you can combine multiple opportunities, and their associated budgets, to the same project. It is therefore no longer necessary to manually reconcile sales data with project data.
2- MANAGING TASKS AND ASSIGNMENTS
For Nubik, this is one of the key highlights of the PSA solution: to ensure that our team members are assigned to the right projects, and that the workload is evenly distributed.
The PSA Resource Planner makes it easy to evaluate workload. You can verify dates and level of effort for all of the assignments. In addition, because everything is integrated, the assignments will be reflected in the employee’s timesheet (more on that later…).
The gain in time is substantial, in the order of hours per week. The time it takes to check in with each employee to review their calendar for the week is easily 5-minutes per person. For a company of 50 resources, that quickly adds up to 4 hours per week, and over 2 weeks per year! That’s a lot of time over the course of the year, that could be much better allocated to other billable projects.
3- PROJECT PLANNING
The PSA Project Planner provides visibility into several aspects of project management. For example, budget management becomes much more efficient. The ability to create and track multiple tasks and create a baseline for each task, allows for a more granular management of the project, so you can evaluate potential cost overruns before they happen.
The project manager gives a single source of truth to managing timesheets, schedules and budgets, where all aspects are fully interconnected. Once an employee submits their timesheet, the Project Gantt chart is automatically updated, and a project status report can be easily produced and shared with the client.
Fully integrated with Salesforce, PSA Time Management allows employees to enter and track timesheets. Hours worked are associated to a specific task on a specific project, which means that as soon as hours have been entered and approved, the project plan is automatically updated and the project manager can immediately access to the budget, and find out the status of how many hours have been spent so far. This is a significant advantage over more traditional tools such as MS project, that have no integrated way of managing timesheets or billing.
The same is true of the expense account, which makes it an ideal centralized tool.
The area where we experienced the most substantial gains was in billing.
Before the PSA solution, billing was performed via a bridge to another system. This approach had several drawbacks: First, limitations in the functionalities of the bridge led to a direct impact on the process of generating invoices. In addition, the cost to maintain this bridge and those of other systems was quite high, taking several days per month. Even more problematic was the process to generate the invoices that took upwards of 3 weeks: including the time it took to generate an invoice, have it reviewed and approved by the project manager, adjust if needed and finally send them to the customer.
With PSA Billing, it feels like magic to have a single button that kicks of invoice generation in a simple click! All the elements are automatically synchronized, and we can streamline the validation process. All told, we reduce our billing cycle by a full week.
6- MANAGING RESOURCES
As a manager, it’s not always easy to balance your team’s workload. Realizing that one of your resources is underutilized, or worse that someone is overloaded, are two situations that you want to avoid. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you can agree, they are all too common. With the PSA Resource Management module, we are now able to very accurately track the billable levels of Nubik employees in real time. This feature helps us quickly identify who is on the bench, and who is overbooked, so we can make proactive decisions about resource allocation, rather than chasing our tails in a reactive mode.
The FinancialForce PSA platform has radically changed our approach to how we manage our professional services. Fully integrated with the Salesforce platform, from sales opportunities to billing and accounting, this system has provided us with a comprehensive view of projects, assignments, resources, and billing. Not to mention substantial time savings, in the order of weeks per year; impressive!
If you’d like to see how FinancialForce PSA can transform your business, contact us. We’re happy to help.
This blog was originally posted on the Nubik blog on June 12, 2017.