Setting up rates for your Salesforce users is a snap when you use Cloud Coach PSA. Join the team this week as they discuss how to set up billable projects and rates in just two minutes.
The world of project management is changing quickly. We see the results of the increased speed of collaboration, distributed teams, and even higher pressure to perform faster. The pressure isn’t just from executive teams – it’s also from customers, making it harder to win and keep business.
Traditionally, project managers have been evaluated on their ability to execute on projects within the scope, budget and timelines established. But with these changes in the project management and business environments, is this still the best way to evaluate success?
Some companies, with the use of tools like Cloud Coach, have started entrusting project managers not only with managing the delivery of projects but with the profitability as well. With specific margin targets and visibility into project costs and expenses, project managers can make critical profit-driven decisions to ensure their projects meet their goals.
There are several key data points that factor into measuring project profitability:
- Forecasted Task Time
- Actual Task Completion Time
- Resource Cost
- Resource Billing Rates
- Project Revenue
In order to have a competitive, high-performing project-based business, project managers must think beyond project scope delivery, and ensure that they’re considering profitability as well.
In a professional services organization, you’re not selling widgets or software. You’re selling one of the most valuable commodities: time. Each person only gets a total of 8760 hours each year, so it’s important to make the most of them.
Examples of Professional Service Organizations
So, what types of businesses are selling time? First, I should clarify that they’re not selling time directly – they’re selling time that provides knowledge, skills and added value. Ultimately, those are shared with the customer through time that’s spent working on their project or providing training services. Some of the most common types of professional service organizations are:
- Consulting firms, including Salesforce consulting firms
- Marketing agencies
- IT services
- Accounting firms
- Financial services
- Management consultants
Of course, many businesses have professional service departments that add to their revenue stream. For example, software companies often have onboarding or implementation teams to support their programs. [Read more…]
Customer onboarding is a key business program to optimize if you’re gearing up for growth or stabilizing your base.
It costs 7x more to obtain a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Project retention starts the moment the contract is signed, and your onboarding team takes over. Some companies treat customer onboarding processes as something to be survived and automated as much as possible. Onboarding establishes the type of relationship you will have with your customer throughout their lifecycle. A best-in-class customer onboarding process helps you establish trust with new customers – a trust that will be relied upon through your entire lifecycle. So before you blindly start that next process, consider these five reasons your customer onboarding should be handled as a project. [Read more…]
Welcome to our sneak peek into the Cloud Coach Deep Dive Track for Delivery 2016: Professional Services Automation
With Cloud Coach’s purpose built PSA tools, you can increase the profitability of your professional services team by speeding up project delivery, closely tracking project finances, and ensuring that work and rates are properly recorded.
In this session you’ll learn how to:
- Deploy resource utilization targets and metrics
- Use Rate Cards and User Rates so you never under-charge again
- Manage client spend with Retainers
Company ABC is getting ready to launch a billable project for a client. To properly report billable hours to their executive team and their client, they need to record hourly rates for all their users. They’re also worried about tracking overtime and need to be able to change user rates on the fly through the life of the project. Looking down the road, Company ABC knows that they’ll be doing a series of repeatable projects for a client who has a negotiated rate every time they launch that project, so they’ll need a tool to manage that as well.
Cloud Coach can help Company ABC with all of these challenges. We use the Rates object to define a default rate for all of our users and adjust through the life of the project to account for overtime. Then, use Rate Cards to standardize rates for Company ABC’s repeatable projects.
Successful project execution involves coordinating people and resources, as well as integrating and performing the activities of the project in accordance with the project plan. The Project Execution Plan is the ‘road map’ used by the project team to deliver the agreed project outputs. The Project Execution Phase is the third phase and the longest phase in the project life cycle which typically consumes the most energy and the most resources. In this phase, you will build the physical project deliverables and present them to your customer for sign-off. Here are a few best practices that you can consistently add to your projects to make a difference:
Formally Kick Off the Project: Make the project kickoff a formal occasion, and make sure all the important people are there. Do this whether it’s a $50,000 project or a $50 million project. The $50k project may kick off over the phone if the budget doesn’t allow for a face-to-face gathering, but do it anyway. You aren’t limited by technology in this area, so make it nice and make it formal. A formal project kick-off meeting sets clear expectations for the project, and gives your clients confidence in your execution. With Cloud Coach, you can automatically create this meeting whenever you create a new project with the key discussion points. [Read more…]
There are many ways to do project management and professional services automation, from simple shared spreadsheets to custom-built software applications.
Here are 10 reasons your Professional Services Automation software shouldn’t just integrate with Salesforce – it should be built on the Salesforce platform.
- One User Interface. You’re already using Salesforce to manage your customers and accounts. When your PSA solution is built on Salesforce as well, you can move seamlessly between accounts, opportunities and projects.
- Streamlined Execution. From project templates to interactive Gantt charts, using Cloud Coach with Salesforce makes completing projects faster, and collaboration better.
- Data Connectivity. With Cloud Coach, you can create a project directly from an opportunity – keeping all of your work connected and tracked. Measure the cost of the project against the initial budget, connect issues and risks to the project, and even track your project meeting minutes with links back to the account and opportunity.
Security. Salesforce focuses on data security. When the information on your professional services projects is stored with your Salesforce organization, you can count on the same level of enterprise security. Learn more at http://trust.salesforce.com/.
Reliability. Hardware crashes. Files get corrupted. Cloud Coach and Salesforce are cloud-based, so your data is backed-up across multiple secure data centers.
Advanced Reporting. Cloud Coach uses the same database as your existing Salesforce solution, giving you advanced reporting visibility across your organization. From resource allocation to budgeting, you can build the reports you need to manage your business using Salesforce reporting and dashboard tools.
Strategic Planning. Reporting also helps you make the best use of your available resources, and identify where you may need additional support. Using integrated time tracking, you may discover that certain team members are consistently over-resourced.
One Administration Tool. Many new tools require a new set of skills for administration, costing you time and money. With Cloud Coach, your Salesforce admins already know how to make modifications to workflows, manage permissions, and create processes that work for your business.
- Improved Return on Investment. If you’re already a Salesforce user, then adding Cloud Coach to your existing installation improves the investment. For members of your team who may not already be Salesforce users, Cloud Coach includes Force.com Enterprise Platform licenses, giving them access to contribute to Cloud Coach projects and tasks.
- Unlimited growth. Salesforce and Cloud Coach are designed to grow with you, no matter how quickly you grow, or how big your business gets.
As a business that delivers projects or services at the core of the business model, rather than a physical product, then you’ve likely encountered many of the problems that face modern service organizations. In particular, you may face challenges with project management, resource allocation, and scaling your business.
When you started, you could probably manage your business with emails, whiteboards, and call-across-the-office conversations. As you’ve grown, it’s become a series of spreadsheets, or external applications that don’t connect to each other, or use another third party application to do so.
With all of your information in all of these different disconnected places, how do you:
- Deliver projects on time and within a budget?
- Ensure that the proper resources are in place to deliver such projects?
- Effectively report on project information in real time?
- Ensure that project information is accessible at all times by anyone?
- Ensure that employees focus on core responsibilities rather than administrative tasks
- Efficiently manage the lifecycle of a service or project engagement?
- Streamline key service or project processes for greater productivity?
- Identify opportunities to grow the business?
- Effectively bid on new opportunities with the right budget to achieve target ROI?
A professional PSA tool helps you answer all of these questions, moving your project management from chaos to efficiency.
Professional Service Automation software has evolved to help service organizations efficiently grow by streamlining and automating many of your administrative tasks. Good PSA software will also help you identify opportunities in your business for additional growth.
We approach professional services automation with three basic things in mind:
- Integration: We developed Cloud Coach on Salesforce, the leading CRM platform, to allow you to track your projects from the moment the lead enters your business. From lead, to opportunity, to project, you can monitor the exact path that each project takes.
- Visibility: You need to know more about your project than just the current status. In order to scale your business and measure your profitability, you need to be able to view and report on a wide variety of your metrics. Cloud Coach projects give you the option to report on any data captured by Cloud Coach.
- Flexibility: With Cloud Coach, you can custom-define every project, or build your projects from templates, giving you the flexibility you need to manage your projects and grow your business.
Learn how to easily manage your client retainers with Cloud Coach
Retainers are a way for professional service companies to provide clients with a bucket of professional services from which they can draw down.
There are two basic kinds of retainers: one time, and recurring.
With a one time retainer, the retainer is drawn down until it is completely used up, similar to a prepaid cell phone or gift card. A one time retainer can be used for tracking delivery against a single T&M engagement for a customer.
A recurring retainer refreshes on a regular basis with a new amount of time or service available to the client, similar to a standard monthly data plan for a cell phone. Recurring retainers are often used for tracking an annual customer premium support plan.
How are you tracking your billable hours? If you’re still relying on spreadsheets or time tracking applications, you could be under-billing for your team’s efforts. When you set up rate cards in Salesforce using Cloud Coach functionality, you can be sure that you’re improving accuracy, leveraging your CRM, and keeping your time tracking records where they belong – with your project.
What is a Rate card?
A rate card is a way to provide a client with individualized pricing for your services. They can be used for external clients or customers for your professional services, or internal rebilling, such as billing other departments for the work of your IT department.
How are Rate Cards Used?
Cloud Coach allows you to manage rate cards based on skill levels in Salesforce. The tiered rate cards allow you to charge more for junior versus senior services.
|Sample Rate Card A|
You can have multiple rate cards for the same client, allowing you to charge a different rate for special projects.
How can I use Rate Cards in Salesforce with Cloud Coach?
With Cloud Coach, rate cards are stored at the customer account level.
When you create a new rate card, you will need to add the services that you’ll be offering, and the rates you will be charging for those services.
After creating a rate card, you will associate your Cloud Coach projects to those rate cards.
Any work that is tracked using Cloud Coach projects for these skills will be billed according to the rate card selected. Not only can you see the billing rate for the business, if you build your company’s costs into your skills, you can see the cost of delivery for both estimated and actuals. This allows you to understand your profit margins and ensure that you’re meeting your financial goals.