Why you should be looking at the platform and not just the cloud
This guest post was written by Steve Clune, CEO of CLD Partners, a long-standing FinancialForce consulting and implementation partner. Steve sets CLD’s technology vision and has led some of the largest FinancialForce enterprise cloud ERP implementations.
In my first blog post of this three-part series, I explained the reason for the revenue leakage issue afflicting many professional services companies: the gap between service quoting and delivery.
A lack of tight alignment between your quoting approach and how you deliver professional services is the reason for revenue leakage. The loose connection stems from a disconnect between front office and back office systems that yield incomplete data, which makes revenue leakage hard to detect. Such misalignment leads to numerous problems when it comes to managing revenue. Revenue leakage is a big risk if you aren’t accurately staffing and billing opportunities that you’ve won or that are in progress – or if you are carrying unscheduled backlog.
Tap into the power of a single cloud platform
In my second post, I covered how companies can overcome this with a common cloud platform to achieve what I call Professional Services Nirvana – driving the most revenue possible at the highest margin. In this post, I focus on the analytics and customer insights that Professional Services Nirvana unlocks for C-level executives and others in the organization.
A common cloud platform fed by a common data set associated with your quote-to-cash process enables this Nirvana. With that platform and data in place, all transactions in the journey are linked and you gain end-to-end visibility into everything related to your Professional Services engagements.
A platform approach – such as that enabled by Salesforce and FinancialForce – is better than individual point systems from different cloud providers. The transactions processed by a single platform give rise to important data when the platform includes embedded analytics (e.g., Salesforce Tableau CRM, formerly known as Einstein Analytics ). This tight integration enables you to perform all needed Professional Services- and financial-related tasks on a single cloud platform.
Consider the scenario where FinancialForce Professional Services Automation (PSA) sits at the center of the service delivery process, as I described in my last post. This gives you billing accuracy, time efficiency, and auditability (i.e., financial control).
But C-Level executives – even those in finance – don’t need to know about transactions. They need analytics – summaries, roll-ups, pivots, trends, and forecasts to unlock customer insights and adapt to changing environments.
Gain game-changing visibility
FinancialForce PSA is native to the Force.com cloud platform and delivers on-platform analytics, which is the true game-changer. Embedded analytics enable you to look at any single transaction along the quote-to-cash journey, from the original customer quote through the final accounting entry in the General Ledger.
This provides executives with a view into everything, from exactly how the quote turned into an assignment and an individual’s timecard to the customer invoice. It’s even possible to start with the General Ledger posting and trace it back to the original quote, with data in real-time about everything in between, including the billing event and timecards submitted.
This state equals Professional Services Nirvana. It also equals a Business 360 and Customer 360 view because from any vantage point along the process, any licensed user within the company can clearly see every transaction and data point associated with a customer. That means an understanding of what is happening with each customer engagement and its impact on the overall business.
Deliver better customer experiences
Accurate data from a single source of truth paves the way for truly customer-centric business operations and culture, and the ability to deliver the most innovative customer experience.
A real-time, accurate view of data empowers your organization to handle every Professional Services-related activity more efficiently and improve the overall process. That’s because, by understanding what is happening with each Professional Services engagement – and all engagements in total – employees can make decisions that optimize business.
For instance, such a view enables your employees to easily answer questions such as:
- When am I able to notify the customer that we are going to be over budget?
- How quickly can we notify of the need for a change order?
- Am I able to keep the project moving forward without unnecessary delays?
Accurate information also ensures your company can:
- Confidently share project status
- Understand real-time availability of Professional Services resources
- Bill the right amount on time
- Ensure traceability and auditing for better financial control
Plus, with the Salesforce platform, Customer Communities can even empower your clients with self-service capabilities, including tracking project status and paying invoices with just a few clicks.
Improve revenue forecasting, margins, and profitability
With accurate and real-time visibility into data, your executives can develop trusted revenue forecasts associated with future-looking bookings. Consider Sirius Computer Solutions, one of the largest solution integrators in the US and a CLD Partners client. CLD helped Sirius implement a single platform solution on Salesforce with FinancialForce. Now all the company executives, service and practice leaders, and project managers can log into a dashboard to see every element associated with a deal, from closed opportunity to purchase order. Such insight empowers the executive team to understand precisely when deals are booked and revenue can be recognized.
When your project managers effectively execute their jobs and record project details in a unified cloud platform, your resource managers immediately see the forward-looking plan. By applying analytics to this same information, the executive team can understand where things stand projectwise on a percent-complete and target-margin versus delivered-margin basis.
This visibility also helps drive higher profitability. With a clear view into the most profitable products and services, and the best vendors to work with, your executives can make instantaneous decisions that significantly improve profitability.
Better manage and orchestrate staffing and hiring
It’s a given that Professional Services organizations need to understand available resources and skillsets for upcoming projects. With a single cloud platform solution, everyone gets a clear and accurate view into those needs along with project backlog, so project managers can plan staffing appropriately.
In fact, a single platform can automate many steps in the project execution process and empower your organization to harness all the information captured during the order management project setup step. Once the order has been completed, the system confirms needed staff and skills, so the resource manager can immediately determine whether the necessary staff is in-house or needs to be hired.
By taking better advantage of in-house resources, your organization can keep its employees engaged and generating revenue. Having a resource plan associated with each project quote helps achieve predictability in an unpredictable world.
In cases where your organization needs to hire additional Professional Services staff, a single cloud platform provides visibility to streamline the process. With a view into scheduled projects, existing projects, and demand for projects, it’s easier to identify staffing needs and gaps and make smart, timely hiring decisions to address those.
Drive bigger business growth
By putting your customers at the center of your business, you can see them in full color, empowering your company with complete visibility and actionable insights at every step of the customer lifecycle, ultimately driving business growth.
This view and these capabilities lead to an outstanding customer experience, and satisfied customers translate to more Professional Services engagements, higher utilization, and more referrals.
Talk With Us
For over 10 years, CLD Partners has specialized in enterprise FinancialForce implementations and enterprise quote-to-cash solutions on Salesforce.
Whether you’re considering FinancialForce for the first time, just went live, or you’ve been using it for years, CLD Partners has solutions to help you get the most out of your investment. And we believe your services operations should perform the way you want.
We’re here to help, so talk to us first.