In my role, I oversee the Customer Success and Professional Services teams at Cloud Coach – so unsurprisingly our software plays a major part in how I am able to manage those departments and, ultimately, all our clients’ interactions and engagements.
So, here’s how, as Director of Services and Success at Cloud Coach, I use Cloud Coach in my role!
Professional Services at a glance
For Professional Services, I use the core functionality of the tool to run and track our projects and client implementations. Typically, this is when we’re implementing Cloud Coach into a client’s own Salesforce environment.
Using Cloud Coach’s Cross Project View I can see, at a glance, all of the ongoing projects we have.
Here’s an example of one of our Quick Start Project Plans, where we’re helping a client do what we do: implement their software for their clients, using our project management software.
This involves tracking timelines, deliverables, rate items and entering time. All of those billable PSA pieces!
Customer Success at a glance
For Customer Success, we use Cloud Coach to track the customer journey for our clients.
Like for Professional Services, we also use Cloud Coach projects for this too, just in a slightly different way. Here’s an example of an account that has been with us for a while.
On the right hand side, you can see the related projects to this account over time. You can also see the initial implementation project at the start, and you can see we’ve created Customer Success projects for every contract cycle.
In each of these Customer Success projects, you can see a list of activities and deliverables for the Customer Success Managers to check on through the entire contract of that particular client.
In this particular project, which runs over a three year contract, tasks have been broken down into years, showing all of the administrative tasks that will need to be undertaken, like QBRs, etc. Each year also displays a list featuring check-in calls and surveys to be sent out, amongst other things. Essentially, we can see a list of everything a Customer Success Manager needs in order to interact with a client as an absolute minimum (outside of ad hoc calls and emails, of course!).
We even have some custom functionality built into tasks, where our CSMs can fill out things like meeting notes or other inputs that drive our automated customer health metrics.
When a CSM gets off a call, they can fill in details of who was on a call, how the call went, what was discussed. And all of this information ultimately helps guide our customer health metric.
As my role is more high level, I have a number of dashboards I look to easily view how our teams are performing.
Professional Services dashboards
For Professional Services, the main dashboard I use looks similar to these examples.
I’m in here multiple times a day, and this dashboard allows me to quickly and easily see things like:
- Our total cost of active projects
- Our current project margin on active projects
- A list of our completed projects and their finishing margin
Additionally, I’m able to check my team’s utilization. At Cloud Coach, we track billable, exempt, internal and other. From my perspective, everything is productive except the ‘internal’ time.
We also have a breakdown of the previous week’s utilization, which I can refresh every Monday. If utilization is not at 100%, this allows me to talk to team members and ensure time has been entered correctly. More on that later…
Other dashboard components allow me to track how many projects each of my consultants is working on, providing a really high-level resourcing view. We also have a time-to-adoption metric, which is a shared metric between Professional Services and Customer Success.
I also spent a lot of time using Resourcing, which is one of Cloud Coach’s out-of-the-box features.
Let’s look at one of our Onboarding projects to see how:
As you can see here, it’s easy to see who is working on a particular project, and it’s also very intuitive to see an individual’s load for that particular project.
This information all feeds into the view above, where you can see my team’s total load, color-coded by how busy (or not!) an individual is. I also can drill down into what projects are actually building this total load.
The other view I use heavily is something called the capacity view. With this, I’m able to view the resource capacity of my team, while toggling placeholders and soft allocations on and off on the right hand side. This is particularly useful when talking to our leadership team as we build our organization’s future recruitment plans, and equally as useful when talking to our Sales team as we plan schedules for the upcoming months.
To help me, our Sales team creates planning projects once an opportunity reaches a certain threshold. From a resourcing standpoint, we add soft allocations for a solutions developer and a PS consultant to these planning projects, and this is the information which ultimately drives the information shown in the capacity chart above, and helps us to understand our resourcing pipeline.
At the beginning of my week, I typically spend a lot of time in the resourcing app and in my PS dashboard to review everything that happened in the previous week: do I need to dig deeper into anything? Have time sheets been recorded?
Once I’ve looked at this information, I can then review my numbers. Where are we performing below expectations? Or, conversely, where are we performing above expectations, and why? This then enables me to report key information to the leadership team with both accuracy and context.
Has my team entered time correctly?
A headache for many Professional Services managers and directors is ensuring that time has been recorded for the previous week. Fortunately for me, this is rarely an issue!
With Cloud Coach, we have an email notification built in, in the form of a scheduled flow that runs early on a Monday morning. This flow pulls back users of a certain profile – so in this example, professional services users – and queries their time sheet for the last week’s date range, checking whether the time sheet’s ‘total hours field’ is above, below or equal to 40 (the week’s hours).
If it’s equal or above 40, great! If it’s below, an email is sent to the user prompting them to revisit the time sheet to correct any errors or gaps.
There is a manual check I undertake on my professional services dashboard, where I can see whether the total hours column, which should equal 100%, is complete. Thankfully, because of the email automation, this is usually only a brief Monday morning sense check, and 99% of the time, things have been logged correctly.
Sharing information externally
We regularly use our External Project View to help communicate information to our clients. With just a link, clients can get real-time project insight through dashboards and timelines, while allowing us to share only the information we need the client to see.
Another feature we’re using heavily as part of the external project view is something called external deliverables. Our project managers and professional services consultants use this section to create and track project-level deliverables which require external stakeholder input.
Do we need the client to provide further information? Are they required to sign anything off? On the right-hand-side, you can even see there’s also the capability for clients to communicate directly with us.
My most valuable feature: Capacity Planning
This capacity planning feature with the soft allocation placeholders is definitely the most valuable feature for me, as it bridges what is often an information gap in some organizations between pre-sales and post-sales.
It allows us to be incredibly open and honest about what we can – and cannot – take on in a certain timeframe, without the risk of burning out or overburdening any of my team.
My favorite feature: Water-Scrum-Fall
Although in my current role I’m less involved in the day-to-day running of projects, one of my favorite Cloud Coach features is the Water-Scrum-Fall capability.
This is always the busiest part of a project plan. Every day, there’s notes being added, Kanban cards being moved and time being entered. For me it’s tactically the most fun place to work in a project and it’s incredibly easy to use.
How Cloud Coach has saved me time
A lot of the PSA automations that we use within Cloud Coach would be more than a full-time job if we had to undertake them manually. I couldn’t do my job without it!
When I look at my Professional Services dashboard, 90% of the information being surfaced is automated.
When a project gets sold, all I need to do is plug in our budgeted hours, how many dollars of services we have sold, and any other variables – and then I can just leave my team to get on and do their job.
As long as they enter their time, I’m going to be getting an accurate view of how any project budget is burning down.
Some Professional Services Directors still have to manually, every week, pull together a spreadsheet of entered hours in Oracle and multiply by a rate that could be stored in some other spreadsheet or Excel document. Then compare against another spreadsheet containing budget information.
Thankfully for me, my project information is live in the system all the time as work and time is entered. Same with utilization. When that time is entered, the utilization category is automatically picked up from the project, ticket or time card, and the system knows whether this work is billable, exempt or an internal admin item.
All I need to do? Hit refresh on a Monday morning and review. It’s as easy as that!