Three key ways enterprises can strengthen their services organizations
Services leaders serious about improving financial health and driving successful projects should start by addressing internal, organizational weaknesses. These could be project planning mistakes that compromise your margins or a disconnected infrastructure that hinders service delivery. In many cases, you may not know you have these issues, but addressing them will lead to big results.
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Ultimate Guide to PSA
Based on our experience working with the largest services organizations in the world, below are three actions you can take to strengthen your services business today.
1. Put an end to internal silos
Stronger teams do better business. But when it comes to connecting sales and professional services teams, many organizations fall short.
When these two teams use different systems, services receives limited information, preventing them from planning ahead and doing their best work. Meanwhile, the sales team may be under- or over-promising simply because they’re unable to see what’s available to deliver. In short, a lack of visibility on either side can lead to a sub-par experience for the client and a missed opportunity from a business perspective.
The good news is that professional services automation (PSA), when it seamlessly shares the same data and information as your CRM, offers a highly efficient way of bringing sales and services teams together. With both teams using the same platform, they’re better able to sell what can be delivered and deliver what’s been sold.
Splunk, a leading data platform provider with more than 18,500 customers, formerly relied on spreadsheets to manage its professional services engagements. But spreadsheets are by nature disconnected from other sales systems and key data. By switching to FinancialForce PSA, which is native to the Salesforce platform, Splunk’s sales and services teams now operate from a single source of truth. Sales can see projects in the queue and/or request additional resources based on what’s available, and project managers have the pipeline visibility they need to easily plan for the future.
2. Prioritize projects based on profitability
Professional services projects are not all created equal. Without a dedicated system to monitor this, organizations will struggle to measure the nuances of profitability that comes with each client and project. Making this doubly difficult is the fact that profitability is a moving target, so you have to be able to track real-time updates to revenue estimates and project costs.
If you can’t easily determine which projects are a priority from a profit contribution perspective, you’re making planning decisions in the dark. When a client suddenly requests more resources, do you hire subcontractors or bring people in from other parts of the company? And when multiple clients make requests: How do you decide who gets what?
At one point in time, the services team at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) faced this same challenge. With no dedicated system in place to manage projects, service request management was done through highly manual worksheets that provided no systematic data consolidation or mobility. Teams lacked visibility into project scope, budgets, and assigned resources, resulting in inconsistencies.
HPE now runs its services businesses on FinancialForce PSA, bringing all the relevant project and financial data into one place. Rather than trying to guess the best way to spend money or hire resources, they are able to achieve comprehensive, real-time transparency into profitability by client, project type, region, and more. Teams can easily scale project execution and improve customer intelligence by centralizing core data on one platform.
3. Track utilization metrics more effectively
Any service organization worth its salt understands the importance of efficiently and accurately tracking metrics like utilization and billable/non-billable resources. So why would an organization entrust this mission-critical task to a siloed system or tangle of manually updated spreadsheets?
A service organization needs to be able to adjust utilization targets for individuals based on different situations. For example, a new consultant currently being onboarded should be measured differently than a senior consultant who spends a lot of time training or helping the sales team. Services organizations need useful information at the team or regional level to make the right decisions when swings of utilization as small as 1-2% can mean the difference between losing money and profitability.
Calculating and improving utilization is easy once you’ve unified data related to your customers, projects, resources, and financials on one platform. This also helps account for project details, including calendars, target rates, supply, demand, forecasted revenue, protecting margins, and more.
Red Hat, one of the world’s largest providers of open-source solutions for the enterprise, previously used multiple systems and spreadsheets to manage its global projects. It would take two weeks and many lost data-entry hours to generate meaningful reports about utilization and other project-related insights.
Using FinancialForce PSA, Red Hat now has unified datasets and real-time reporting to make data-driven decisions for thousands of projects across 95 global offices. Project managers have the visibility and data they need to ensure proper resource allocation while managing assignments, products, planners, and contacts.
Want to see what a cloud PSA can do for your business?
These are just a few key things your services organization can do to strengthen financial operations and optimize for growth. For more insights and strategies, download the Five Mistakes Services Organizations Make ebook and try our web-based ROI calculator. By inputting just a few data points specific to your organization, you can quickly uncover the benefits of implementing FinancialForce PSA and see how a “small” increase in utilization can make a big difference.