Quantifying the Benefits of Services Automation
Greg Smith: Hello and welcome to FinancialForceX Virtual Summit. We are really excited to have you join us today for quantifying the benefits of services automation. Before we get started with today's session, we do have a few housekeeping things that we would like to review.
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We have a really exciting session today. My name is Greg Smith, and I am joined by Lisa Evans of CDW Canada. We're going to start off by doing a few introductions, and then jumping into a conversation around the transformation journey that Lisa has shepherded CDW Canada through. We're going to focus that conversation around how to quantify the impact of services automation. So, it should be a really interesting conversation. I'm excited to dive into it with Lisa, and I'm really happy to have all of you here to be a part of it as well.
So, with that, Lisa, would you mind introducing yourself?
Lisa Evans: Hey everybody, thank you so much for joining us for this session. It's a real honor to be presenting today. I am the supervisor of PS Operations for CDW Canada, and our team is responsible for managing our FinancialForce PSA System, all of the engineering of processes, customizations, configurations around FinancialForce and PSA, and we have had an incredible journey since we implemented about seven or eight years ago. I'm happy to share this with you.
Greg Smith: Excellent. Lisa, do you mind just giving the audience a bit of background about who CDW Canada is so they understand where you’re coming from?
Lisa Evans: Sure. CDW Canada is a provider of technology solutions. We focus on a lot of large customers, as well as smaller customers. We focus a lot on hospitals, universities, government. Our services business is focused on Cloud infrastructure, security, and digital transformation. As well as providing these services we provide all of the hardware and all of the peripherals to support large data centers and that sort of thing. So, we are owned by CDW US, and they’re based in Illinois. We’re 9600 people worldwide, and in Canada we’re about 1900 people.
Greg Smith: Excellent. Thank you. So, that can give everyone a little bit of context around some of the organizational challenges that you're facing.
We thought it would be interesting for this conversation to really talk through the transformation journey that CDW Canada went through. The goal of our conversation is to figure out how to quantify the impact of services automation, to really figure out those areas that drive ROI. So, to do that, we thought it might be good to start off with a little bit of a before and after picture to give everyone that context.
So, Lisa, do you mind running us through what life was like before implementing FinancialForce PSA and how some of that has changed in the organization?
Lisa Evans: Sure. Like many organizations, we started out with spreadsheets and emails. Emails were our only way to track time, believe it or not. So the spreadsheets were there to help us. We had to not only track the time and track the cost and revenue, we also had to do forecasting, and we were running at the time probably about, I would say, 50-80 projects a year on spreadsheets. This was eight years ago. All of our systems were disparate. We had some information in our financial systems, and we had some information in the spreadsheets. So, nothing was really integrated. So, we had so many manual processes, and nobody was able to make any quantitative decisions on really key business areas that we needed to improve on when it came to services.
So, like I said, I’m sure everyone’s been there before at some point. The before picture was a challenge, for sure, but it certainly - with FinancialForce - it gave us a chance to really grow from these very manual processes and systems.
Greg Smith: Excellent. I think what we’re going to find as we go through this conversation is that businesses are all at a different stage of this journey. So, some organizations may have already passed this stage and are a little bit further down, and some organizations might just have solved some of those problems. Especially if they’re newer to adopting the FinancialForce solution set. So, it’ll be interesting for folks to key into what areas of this conversation they start to find and resonate with them.
What we thought we would do, we were chatting about this journey a few weeks ago. It kind of seemed like there was a bit of a structure that started to emerge - a bit of a beginning, middle, and end. So, we thought we might take all of you through what that looked like and that first stage in that journey, exactly from what you were talking about. Spreadsheets everywhere. You said you were using emails to track time, is that correct?
Lisa Evans: You got it.
Greg Smith: That hurts a little bit. So, I think that’s kind of the jumping off point where you start. So, you can imagine that ROI is really easy to achieve if that’s where you’re coming from.
So, that first area is really about getting control. Right?
Lisa Evans: Absolutely.
Greg Smith: It’s really about getting control of your business. Lisa, can you dive into a few of the areas where you are able to capture that control and the impact that that had?
Lisa Evans: Well, it was a lot to get under control. So, we definitely benefited immediately out of the gate. By that, I mean that we were able to accurately track the data. The data was very important for us to make key decisions, whether it was key metrics like utilization, invoicing, accuracy of invoicing. When you’re doing everything by email - and we were literally sending instructions to one department to finance, to get things invoiced, or to recognize revenue and cost. So many things slip through the cracks when you don’t have everything in one system, or if you don’t have the two systems that are integrated.
So, just to be able to attain accuracy when it came to something as simple as invoicing, knowing where our bench was at, do we have enough staff to fulfill all of our requirements, and that sort of thing. That’s utilization. Then, around that, it also allows you to, now, look at how you’re going to structure your compensation for the people that are on your delivery team, and that sort of thing. So, just that ability to get the control over the services data and all of the metrics that go along with that. It really allowed us to easily grow. We’ve quadrupled our revenue since we implemented FinancialForce, quite literally, as well as our service bench is a lot larger than when we were doing everything by email. As you can imagine, you can’t have a 120 delivery people tracking their time by emails.
So, all of these things just allowed us to become a little bit more sophisticated about the way we made decisions, about the way that we serviced our customers. It allowed us to stay on top of things like where are we at with budgets. All of those things that allow you to focus on, really, more relevant issues in your business when you don’t have to worry about losing all of the details, and trying to collect everything, and just having that ability to help the company grow, and grow our team. So, yeah. Getting control is definitely the first step. For us, we saw results relatively immediately after we implemented, because we were able to improve on so many processes right away.
Greg Smith: Yeah, and so I think that's a stage that I hope everybody that is part of this conversation today has already gone through. What you're talking about should sound very familiar. Being able to bring all that information together in a single view of your customer, and be able to start to have control over those processes throughout that customer journey is something that I suspect many people today have already done successfully and have achieved some value out of.
So, I think that's really the launching off point into the interesting part of the conversation: how did you take it further from there? How do you keep extending that value? One of the aspects that is fascinating is you’ve grown the business by about 4x. So, you've been able to scale over the years, and I'm sure your needs have changed. I'm sure things have shifted a little bit throughout that process, and I'm sure the organization looks dramatically different from what it used to.
So, I think that really brings us to the next stage, if you will. It brings us to that next part of that process, which is really about building those best practices. Right? It's really about taking that step back, and thinking about how should you actually be running the business? Can you walk us through a little bit of the work that you've done there? Because I know that's where you've actually spent quite a bit of your time. So, I would love to hear some of the things that you struggled with and thought through and have really seen some value out of.
Lisa Evans: I would say just being able to have a system that allowed us to build our processes around best practices. We didn't really have a lot of service knowledge. We didn't have a huge number of people who were in tune with the best practices of the service industry. So, with the help of FinancialForce - and obviously our solution provider - it really allowed us to strategically build out all of our processes and grow the business.
You might say, what does that look like? Well, just being able to remove any kind of manual intervention in order to track things like your budgets, and how many hours are left on a project, or how many hours are left per task, or per resource. It allows you to be proactive when you're doing everything in all of these disparate systems. Everything’s siloed, all the data’s siloed. It's a lot of manual effort to pull these things together.
But with FinancialForce and being on the Salesforce platform, and because we were already Salesforce users and we relied heavily on Salesforce for a lot of our hardware business, and sales forecasting and that sort of thing. So, with FinancialForce, now our services were able to really bring it to life, and we were also able to improve on the customer journey, if you will. To be able to see one service engagement, the whole 360 picture from the moment you quote or put a statement of work together, to a customer right through to invoicing and even right through to collecting the money on a service engagement, it adds so much value to almost every department. Finance has a better idea of where they are, your salespeople have a better idea of where their projects are. Project managers are able to proactively engage with the customer on so many different things. I think that was one of the biggest changes for us in a very short amount of time is how quickly we were able to grow the business, because we were running to catch up, if you will. I could talk about it all day, but there were so many ways that we were able to…
Sometimes you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, but in this case, we didn’t have to modify our processes to suit the system. It was the system in FinancialForce that actually helped us to come up with all of our processes, quite literally. Any time we’re coming up with… When we sit down as a group, when we talk about how are we going to improve processes, where can we gain more efficiencies, we always look to PSA first. We said, “Is this something that we can do in the system? Is this something that’s going to allow us to serve our customers better?” and that sort of thing. So, building best practices is so important. To be competitive in this day in age, you need to have really solid best practices in the service industry, and I think we’ve accomplished that.
Greg Smith: Yeah. I know, from conversations that we've had, I think that certainly is the case. I'd actually be curious: earlier you kind of keyed in on being proactive, being able to know when budget depletion is happening, or something like that. Can you walk us through how that process actually works in real life? What is the outcome of that process? I think we all can kind of understand the scenario that creates it, but what's the outcome of that?
Lisa Evans: Well, any time that you're able to get ahead of a situation or to certainly please a customer, or to avoid any kind of complications with an engagement, you're certainly able to make better business decisions, even from a project manager. As a project manager, you absolutely need to be in control of your budgets, your resources, all of those things. Just by building out configurations - and its little simple things day to day.
I know it sounds almost too simplistic, but I can't emphasize enough what a difference it makes when you have automation, you have triggers, alerts, all sorts of different ways to be notified about what's about to happen and where you are at with your project or any kind of data for that matter. The things that we have done on this platform that allows us to track all of these things, it’s almost never ending. Obviously, we’re smart about what we’re going to configure and when we’re going to invest in doing something different in the system. But it’s just been something that has, as I said, allowed us to really kind of develop our business and our processes around something that has a lot of great user experience. We have great user adoption with this system, which is hugely beneficial. So, it’s been an experience that we’ve literally gone from like $7 million in PS revenue to almost $40 million, and no where along the way…
Now we have 500 active projects at any given time. We’ve built out a whole new business. We acquired a business that was all staff augmentation. We’d never done any staff augmentation. That kind of services alone is its own little entity, so we had no idea what this looked like or how we were going to track it. It was coming off another system that was, again, a lot of siloed data. So, when you’re in staff augmentation, you really have to have best practices, because you really need to make sure you’re focused on the customer and making sure you’re getting them the services that they need, that they’re happy, that they’re happy with the billing, that they’re able to approve time cards, that we can provide them reports, automated emails that gives them the ability to stay on top of the projects. All of that has been a smooth transition each step of the way when we’ve done acquisitions, and that sort of thing. Again, it’s all around the best practices.
Greg Smith: That's interesting. I did notice as you were talking through that, Lisa, there was a question that came in around what was the time frame for this? How long did it take to kind of establish that rigor, established those best practices, and start to see the benefits of them in the business during that growth?
Lisa Evans: I would say it was pretty immediate, certainly to get time tracking off of emails and tracking all the financials. That was almost immediate. I was the only person. We had a small team. It was myself and a solution provider, but it was manageable for one person then, obviously, because the volumes were much lower.
I think we were very strategic in how we were implementing, and what we were going to do first, and what made sense. We relied heavily on our FinancialForce solution provider to guide us, and they did. FinancialForce as well. FinancialForce was amazing. The community alone - the user community alone - that's my go-to any time I want to see what other people are doing, or if we have an idea to do something one way to implement a best practice, is it the norm? Is everybody else doing this?
But as far as how immediate, to recognize all of these benefits, it’s really as quick as the team that you have in place. Do you have someone who can support FinancialForce internally? We have the world’s best system administrator, as far as I’m concerned, and because of that, and because we’re able to do a lot of it internally, it’s pretty immediate. Because we can do our needs assessments on what is it that we want to accomplish next, and then we have the sandbox so we can test everything out. We were fortunate because management was very open to us rolling out all of these practices and processes, because they could see the results and the key metrics, and they were getting reports.
So, I would say, not only that, but the journey never ends. I can tell you that. We are still - not daily, but on a very regular basis - implementing various configurations, functionality. We’ve done some pretty interesting projects in FinancialForce. Some of the things that we’ve managed to take on, like rolling out vendor invoicing. Vendor invoicing has allowed us to have the vendors enter their bills, and what that does is it removes all of the work from our admin staff. So, we’ve saved probably at least three days a week just doing that. Sorry, three days per month doing that. So, these returns on investments are kind of consistent. Some can be really small, but some can be huge. They can be gigantic returns on investment.
It’s really just a matter of how quickly you can get something implemented from the time you come up with the concept, done the proof of concept, and then rolled it out. So, again, when you have such great user adoption, I think that makes a huge difference because people are really anxious to see what we can do next. It also gets all the users engaged to come up with… We’re always asking people, “Tell us what we can do better.” If you’re a service delivery resource and you have to enter time, we all know how horrible that is. What can we do to make that a better process for you?
So, you have to really...You take off little bits and pieces. Again, depending on what your internal support system is like, in order to actually develop the configurations and set up all of these different customizations and alerts and triggers, it’s all dependent on how you can manage that with your resources. As I said, with an internal system admin, who had never seen Salesforce - let alone FinancialForce - and taught herself, that was probably the best decision we ever made was to have an internal system admin. Also, we work with an incredible solution provider. Couldn’t have done it without them.
Greg Smith: So, let’s actually hover on a couple of those topics a little bit more because I want to talk about what I would think of as one of the softer areas of ROI that is incredibly essential, which is culture. How systems can influence or drive or reinforce culture. I know you talked about adoption a little bit, but how do you achieve that? How do you actually make sure that the adoption is strong? How do you ensure compliance? What’s the impact, from a culture standpoint?
Lisa Evans: This is probably my favorite subject: the culture and compliance and adoption and all of that, because we have had so much success with it. I spent 13 years implementing solutions and ERP systems, other PSA systems, HR systems. I can honestly say I’ve never worked with a system that had such a successful user adoption rate. Because of that, the culture of being able to retain staff…
When you have systems that are not user friendly, that are outdated, that are not today’s technology. Nowadays, we’re hiring a lot of young people - like everybody is. You know what? They’re used to pretty great technology, even just in their social world. So, there’s sort of an expectation that at work, wouldn’t that be great if you had something, if you worked in a system that you really enjoyed? So, that’s been our experience. We have seen what happens - I’ve personally seen it - when you have outdated systems that really are not promoting that integrated aspect of the business, where everything is still manual. I’ve seen us not be able to retain people because of that. In our case, everybody that we have in the system - like on my team that we use on a regular basis - there’s nothing that really stops you. You can just keep going. Your day just moves smoothly. All the information is there. You can see the whole story.
When you have that kind of user adoption, and you have people who are happy with the systems that they’re working in, that goes a very long way. We kind of brag. We like to brag in PSA Ops here at CDW Canada, because we’re just so fortunate that we have been able to experience this, and also work with so many other departments, and also help them. It’s like, “Follow us! Let’s go this way.” We have a whole managed systems business that we’re looking at, perhaps, maybe that’s something we could bring on to PSA. It’s something that we encourage. Every time we’re in a meeting and we hear that somebody has a process that isn’t working out, we’re immediately thinking, “How can we work this with Salesforce, FinancialForce? Does it make sense?”
So, because of that, I’m very fortunate, because I have a very happy team. I think that it goes a long way, that the tools you provide your people to work with every single day, it really helps to retain. That’s been our experience, and I think it’s very important. If your people are happy, business is good.
Greg Smith: That’s right. Customer satisfaction starts with employee satisfaction. Isn’t that how the saying goes? I think that’s such an important aspect: using the tools that you have available to you to drive culture, because culture is certainly created organically, but it can also be influenced. I believe it was Peter Drucker, the great business mind that said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
So, it's super important to be able to focus on that.
Lisa Evans: I love that.
Greg Smith: Right? That's what the quote I'm going to pull out for today's session.
Any opportunity you have to influence that has tremendous ROi for the organization, for the business.
So, I think that that's an excellent segue, too, because I think the last part of this is that - you alluded to it earlier - transformation is a journey, and it's a journey that has no destination. So, the last thing in this, in this kind of segment we wanted to talk about was continuous improvement. How do you approach continuous improvement? I know you gave an example earlier about bringing on vendor invoices into your implementation as well. But how do you approach continuous improvement? How do you think about that?
Lisa Evans: Well, like I said, it's because of this platform, because of this technology, it's always front of mind. I'm constantly looking at every… Not me, my entire team, we're constantly looking at every process. Any time we have an issue that has taken 30 emails to resolve - we’ve all been there - we look at that and say, “Okay, what is consistent? What is the consistent thing that is missing, that people aren’t getting? What information do they need on a regular basis? How can we help them?”
I’ll give you a perfect example. We have the staff augmentation business. So, basically, in professional services, as far as our culture goes, we have CDW Professional Services, where we are implementing large… We could have a $3 million implementation, we can have a $1700 implementation, where we are providing solutions. So, we have designed solutions. We designed the data center, and we’re going in, and we’re going to implement. So, with staff augmentation, what you’re doing is your customer comes to you and they say, “I need a Cisco expert sitting in a chair eight hours a day for the next eight months.” So, we go out and we source those resources, and then we put them in. Everything, at that point, is just transactional.
Well, if you’re selling staff augmentation to your customers, if you could get up on a Monday morning - and we just implemented this - and you could see a dashboard, and you look and you see all of your existing contracts, and you can see how many hours are remaining, where they are at every stage of the project (or of that engagement), if you can take that report and that’s your call sheet Monday morning, that’s huge - huge - success for us. Because that means that you can go in, you look and you see we’re running out of hours, this engagement is coming to an end soon. Because a lot of them renew these contracts.
For a long time - it took us a little while to get there because we’re all so focused on a lot of other business efficiencies and processes that we were trying to accomplish. Now, we’ve got this. Like I said, we just implemented it. Again, now what we’re going to do is, okay, what are you doing with that data? Is it working? Is it all the data that you need?
Like I said, it’s contant. Just making sure, definitely, you want to be smart. I mentioned it before. Not everything can be solved with automation, but a lot can, but you have to be smart, and it has to make sense, and the ROI needs to be there. I can’t emphasize this enough: if you are a FinancialForce user, and you do not have an internal admin to manage your system, go get one! It has been… I mean, obviously it works in unison with your solution provider. There’s a lot that we can do on our own, but there’s things that we’re going to go to our solution provider and say, “Okay, now this is a big one. We just want your input, mostly for guidance on what the best practices are.” So, you have to have a really good balance. So, you definitely have to be smart about what you’re going to invest in, but nothing we have ever done - even though we have a huge return on almost every single thing that we’ve implemented, or every process we’ve implemented - it’s not been a burdensome process. These are things that can be done relatively quickly.
As far as learning the system and that sort of thing, the FinancialForce community - and I mentioned it before - number one, I don’t really do a lot without going out to the PSA community, the FinancialForce community, and look to see what everybody else is doing. That’s huge to have that kind of community available to you. I’ve learned so much from other PSA users just in the FinancialForce community, as well as FinancialForce support. They’re incredible, and they’ve been so helpful.
Again, just think about… We’re always thinking about how does this affect our compliance? How does it affect user adoptions? How can we improve or gain efficiencies elsewhere? It’s literally, for us, it’s nonstop. We have a number of projects that we’re looking at. I say projects, but develop our processes that we want to develop within FinancialForce and Salesforce. Some of them are pretty… They’re big. They might end up being a little bit bigger than maybe we thought, but the return… Again, we’re going to do a proper assessment, we get the right people at the table. Always make sure you have the right people at the table. You need business decision makers at the table. For us, it’s just been a relatively easy process to present all of our business cases - and I’ve had to do that.
We implemented the billing module about two years ago. Our invoicing, which was done out of our accounting system, would take from the time we provided that data out of FinancialForce and sent it to Finance, it would take at least three weeks to get invoices out the door. You can’t run a business and have monthly invoicing going out three weeks after the fact. We got our invoicing down to three days. That was huge. That was huge.
It also allowed us to… We had one resource who all they did was enter the project data in the accounting system. It replicated the project data in order for them to invoice. We didn’t really have that much influence at the time with finance until we came to them and said, “How about you were able to take that person, and put them into something that was going to drive a little bit more value, and that all of this was done directly out of one system? No human interaction.” That’s what we did. That’s just one example.
There’s so many I’ve forgotten that we’ve done, but it’s been a great journey. I do not say this lightly. It has been one of the best experiences I’ve had managing a team and helping a business grow, and being able to do it in a system that I haven’t found one thing that we weren’t able to accomplish, as far as the PSA or Salesforce goes.
Greg Smith: I think that’s the important part of continuous improvement. Right? Being able to have that system that gives you a foundation that you can tackle these projects. Would it make sense for your business? It wouldn’t make sense to do everything all at once, because you’re probably going to do a poor job at some of it just racing for that finish line. But, what does make sense, is to continuously improve.
I think the advice that you gave around having an in-house admin is really important for that. If continuous improvement is the stage of the journey that your organization is in, that’s an essential component, because that’s the person within the organization that will be able to puzzle through that process with you, that will be able to figure out how it’s implemented, will be able to manage the data governance.
So, I think you talked about it in the context of compliance, but, really, the way that the application makes sure that it’s getting the information you intended to capture - and it’s making it to the intended destination, wherever that may be - that person is really central to that.
Also, a solution like this has such a significant impact on the business. It has been such a significant time savings. It has influence over all those core metrics around business performance. It’s kind of a no-brainer to have someone there making sure that it’s running on all cylinders and actually doing what it’s intended to do. Because every business changes. We heard it this morning during Scott Brown’s keynote, where he started talking about agility within organizations because the environment around us is always changing. So, every business has to change.
So, the solution that you implemented seven years ago probably doesn’t look like the solution that you’re running today. Is that right?
Lisa Evans: Not even a little bit.
Greg Smith: That’s right. Yeah.
So, for those of you that are kind of getting started on the journey today, in seven years from today you’re probably going to have a very different business and a very different solution. So, the important part is being able to manage that in a thoughtful way and continuously improve.
So, I wanted to kind of just pull up a bit of a recap here, because I thought that this was an interesting conversation and an interesting way to structure it, where if we’re thinking about capturing value, if we’re thinking about return on investment, we’re thinking about quantifying that impact in building those business cases that you just talked about, Lisa. There’s kind of these four areas. The area that has the most measurable, that has the most immediate and visible impact is really getting control of the business. That’s where you see the KPIs moving. That’s where you can really, cleanly attach dollars and cents - or pounds or euros or what have you - to the impact that it’s having.
From there, best practices help business growth. That’s for sure. They help scalability.
Culture is essential. Culture is so big in this whole process. It’s having buy-in from everyone within the organization and being able to retain that knowledge.
Then, of course, continuously improving. So, Lisa, I’d be curious, after kind of going through this, I know you sprinkled in some words of wisdom here and there throughout this conversation around FinancialForce community and having an in-house admin and being able to really pull things in when needed by the business. I think your example, specifically, around staff augmentation is interesting, because it was an entirely new business line. It was a completely new thing for you. What other advice? Before we jump into questions, what other advice comes to mind for folks that are probably on one stage or another on this journey?
Lisa Evans: Oh, boy. Definitely, as I mentioned, needs analysis is so important. It’s so important that you have the right players at the table. Also engaging with finance is a huge thing for us. We’re always trying to fill that gap between PSA and finance. So, I would say talk to all of the departments that might be impacted. You’d be surprised at how many people you can make a difference for. They may not necessarily be direct users of FinancialForce.
Like, we’re looking into something right now. We, now, we’re looking at sales reps. Not our staff aug business, but our enterprise sales reps. We’re looking at what information can we provide them, and we want to be able to show them, “Here’s where we are in real time with your projects.” But we’re going about it a different way, because you want to make sure if you’re going to build out something like that, are they going to use it? If they’re going to use data, what’s the best way to get… Again, it comes down to user adoption. How do we make it easy for them? They shouldn’t have to go and dig for the data. So, first we thought, “Well, you could just send an email when we close.” We already have a project close email that automatically goes out,a nd it shows the margin and all of that sort of thing. That is something even I was able to do myself, and I’m not very technically savvy. There are a lot of things that just everyday users can do, like adding fields and that sort of thing. This is not rocket surgery, as they say.
So, we look at the sales reps. What is going to make it…? Like I said, don’t send them the information. Don’t force them to open up an email. Make it a part of their everyday culture. They live in Salesforce anyways. They’re used to it. They know that system well. So, we’re looking at ways to deliver that data to them in a very easy, accessible, easy to read, easy to understand [way]. That’s going to make a huge difference. Surprisingly enough, I think the whole services industry is a little bit of a mystery to some people in our organization, because when you’re wrapping up an $8 million hardware deal, and then you’ve got services to go with it, there are so many things going on at one time. Because we have such a structured, great PMO, we’ve got a great RMO (resource management office), and - of course, now that we’ve come this far and we’ve taken the business so far in seven years, it’s insane - all of our processes. So, there’s comfort in the fact that services are kind of taking care of themselves, and that there’s comfort that the data is being captured accurately.
But now, well, let’s look at things like where are we making the most money? What practice area of our business is most profitable? You could do it right down tot he resource level if you wanted to.
So, by doing that, and by giving us information to these people and the salespeople, making it easy for them to see it live/real time, it allows them to be proactive as well.
Again, you’d be surprised at the aspects of your business that you might not have thought about that would benefit from this platform. I say this platform as a whole - the Salesforce/FinancialForce - and I would start looking at anything that you might be able to bring the processes directly into the system.
Greg Smith: That’s a great suggestion, and I think it’s all about thinking through that entire customer journey, because that’s the intention: to be able to have that customer journey in a single system. Yeah. Excellent.
So, we’ve got a few minutes left. We have some questions that came in, Lisa. Do you mind if we answer a couple of those for the folks who have been listening?
Lisa Evans: Bring ‘em!
Greg Smith: There will probably be a few more that pop up as we start talking. That’s usually the way that happens.
So, I was wondering first, would you mind sharing who the solution provider is you worked with?
Lisa Evans: Icon.
Greg Smith: Icon, an excellent organization. One of our FinancialForce partners. They are the ones that kind of helped you out with some of the more complex issues. Good.
When it came to widespread user adoption, what are some of the challenges you’ve seen there? You’ve probably had a few of them. You’ve probably overcome them. I hope you’ve overcome them. But that’s such an important aspect of this. Talk through maybe one or two of the big challenges and how you approach them.
Lisa Evans: Time entry. Time entry. And I would probably say time entry.
Greg Smith: So, it sounds like time entry is one of the adoption challenges that you’ve experienced.
Lisa Evans: Yes, yes, it is, for sure. Again, it all comes down to… We understand. We totally get it. Nobody wants to have to sit and account for every minute of their day. In some cases, we have superstar delivery resources that are experts in their field, and they could be working on four projects in a day. So, there’s a lot that goes into doing time entry. If you’re billing the customer, you’re going to make sure the notes are accurate and that sort of thing. So, we’ve tried to make - we worked on, not “tried.” We’ve successfully reconfigured the time entry and assignments and the data that they see.
What we’re doing now - and this is really cool. Anybody who could benefit from this, i would definitely consider it. We have started presenting sort of like a “day in the life of PS ops” at CDW to every department in our company. It’s pretty fascinating, because when you’re a large company (and we’ve been through so much growth, and the culture’s really changed), it’s hard to get word out to everybody that we can probably help you. So, we are doing it. We’re presenting constantly to our PMs (our project managers), and now we are looking to our practice leaders. So, we present to our cyber risk team. What comes out of that is these are the users, and they’re like, “One of the things I’d like to know is I’d like to see exactly how many hours are remaining when I’m entering my time,” and that sort of thing.
In doing so - and this is an initiative for 2021 - we’ve done three sessions. The first session was with sales, and it’s amazing what these people did not know about our business. It was amazing what we could show them in how we do things and what we’re able to do for them. Every single session we’ve done that way, the response has been phenomenal. So, we’re going to continue to do that with all the departments: finance, payables, it doesn’t matter. Anybody that we interact with or that could have impact from this system or from this data, and that sort of thing. Or the processes, even.
I’ll give you another example. We built a queue, a SOW queue - a statement of work queue - in Salesforce using cases that integrates directly to FinancialForce, and we built out a whole approval system for when we’re putting a statement of work together. You’ve got resource management involved, project management, you have solution architects, salespeople. So, talk about compliance! Because you need to have a customer signed SOW before you can start a project. We need to make sure the terms are set up. This is what I mean about the constant journey in the transformation. Again, when you present to other groups in your company and talk to your coworkers, it’s what drives what we’re doing now, and it’s what’s driving our 2021 initiatives.
Greg Smith: That’s interesting. There was a follow-up question as you were talking through that, Lisa, that I think - based on what you said - may have been slightly answered. The question is around time entry. This specific organization has really strict policies for time entry. So, all sorts of rules around exactly what you have to do. They’re asking around how do you promote good culture there so that people don’t just hate the system, but rather are in compliance and do it?
I think you actually alluded to that: sharing with other individuals in the organization why things are set up the way they’re set up, the thought process behind it. All of those aspects to it are incredibly important to be able to make sure that people don’t just blame the system, but rather drive the culture. So, that was a great question.
We’ve got just about a minute or so left. So, in thirty seconds or less, there was a great question that came in around Salesforce Classic versus Salesforce Lightning. I was curious what impact Lightning may have on this optimization process. Can you just talk briefly about what you’re using, and if that’s been a big component of this?
Lisa Evans: So, this is the stump the chump question. I’m all about compliance, except I’m still in classic. I’ll tell you right now. Our project managers are on Lightning, I know that for sure. To be honest, I’m not sure if our delivery resources are on Lightning. I think there was one or two things that I looked at that I was trying to accomplish - and please don’t ask me to be specific - and it was available in Lightning, and it was something that was kind of… We raid everything when we’re putting together what our initiatives are. It was something that pretty low down on the list, so it’s something I have to go back to. We have not really forced Lightning on our users. I think it’s more your personal preference. So, until Classic is no longer, and we’re forced to go to Lightning… I shouldn’t say the word “forced.” But, if that…
Greg Smith: Well, it’s more about getting people the frameworks that they’re used to and what they like to use.
Lisa Evans: Right. Exactly.
Greg Smith: So, I think that’s probably the more important takeaway there: that people need to be comfortable. So, with that, we are out of time, though. So, Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. There are a few more questions that are coming in. We’ll definitely try to follow up on those if we can.
Really, really enjoyed hearing how you went through that process. So, thank you very much.
Lisa Evans: Thank you. It’s been great, thanks.
Greg Smith: Thank you, everyone, for joining us. This is the end of this session. We have quite a few more sessions today, so check out the schedules, sign up for some other breakouts as well as the product roadmap sessions. So, definitely more great content to come.
So, thank you again, Lisa, and I hope all of you have a wonderful day.