Many businesses reach the point where investing in an accounting package makes much more sense than continuing to manage the firm’s complex finances on a spreadsheet.
And the same logic holds true for investing in Professional Services Automation (PSA).
When driving improved business performance becomes important and you need to manage your back and front-office activities more effectively, it is time to invest in a PSA.
There are a myriad of benefits for businessesthat use a PSA,including improved resource utilisation, faster billing, improved cash flow, reduced revenue leakage and increased margins. These are all really useful, however in this article I want to highlight two performance-based reasons why you need a PSA.
1. To provide real-time actionable insight
You need to drive your business looking through the windscreen, not through the rear-view mirror. Management reports delivered mid-month which tell you what happened last month are not what you need. Of course, it is important to have historical data recording what revenue and margin were generated, together with other key metrics such as resource utilisation and critical project information , but this invariably comes too late, 4 – 5 weeks after the event, to do anything about it.Furthermore, insight does not only come from current projects.
Integration of PSA with your CRM provides future resource demand for work not yet won, so can help you seewhat skills youwill need andwhen and where and youwill need them.
What a PSA will give you is a competitive advantage – real-time forward-looking information. And who wouldn’t want 4 – 5 weeks on their competitors to make necessary resourcing and business changes?You’ll have a not only a forward-looking financial forecast but also a resource demand one.
The PSA will tell you what skills you need in the coming weeks to months, giving you time to plan who will deliver the work, giving time to hire in extra capacity either on a permanent or temporary basis as required or to manage the transition of key resources from other projects and back-fill them without upsetting your existing clients.
The PSA will also give you the ability to actually see what is going on with past and future demand. What skills are in demand / needed across the firm? Itwill also allow you to actually do something about it rather than just reflect and agonise over it –this is critically important for survival and competitive advantage.
You’ll be able to see deviations in your margins and quickly be able to determine the reasons why and take corrective action e.g.are you burning more days to do the work or do you have more expensive resources on the project than you planned? Both scenarios may have the same outcome but for very different reasons andtherefore require different corrective action.
2. To provide peace of mindforwhen things go badly wrong
How many times in your past has the sh*t hit the fan? Perhaps it was a major project failure or a client escalation. When this happens the critical first step for a manager is to understand the facts in order to make the right decisions. In this situation, how often have you been asking for opinions, making guesses and forming an action plan based on best assumptions?
A PSA will do away with all of that. By providing a single source of the truth all the facts are available at your fingertips, in real time, anywhere. You are not dependent on that spreadsheet on the sales team members’laptop which you cannot access because you can’t get hold of them. Take the chance to cure your spreadsheet addiction. Ask how dependent your business is on spreadsheets? Do they run your life? Go cold turkey – get a PSA!
The value of this cannot be underestimated. Good, timely decision making based on correct information can turn even the biggest crisis round.
But of course, these benefits can only be realised if the organisation fully adopts the PSA. Adoption is key. If people don’t maintain accurate project status reports and an up–to–date sales pipeline,they won’t see the correct demand in the PSA. If people keep data “off system” in private documents, then you won’t have all the information at your fingertips for decision making.
In essence, adoption comes down to leadership, which must come from the top down.
As a final thought, I’ll share an example of this working in practice.
The company had adopted the mantra “PSA is right even when it’s wrong” and aimed to live by that statement. The weekly resource planning meeting used the PSA to review supply and demand on-line using the resource dashboard (no out–of–date, even by a minute, reports).
However, the Project Manager had failed to maintain his project forecast and resources were showing as coming available the following week, just in time to start a new project which was about to close. The skills matched so it was a simple decision, the Resourcing Manager allocated the resources to the new project.When he found out of course, theProject Manager went wild! Heescalated the decision, right to the top… and got a very simple and straight answer – “Well you know how to stop that happening again don’t you? Get your forecast right in the PSA”.
Create competitive advantage with forward-looking information