Four Ways CRM & PSA Improve Resource Planning and Scheduling
PSA Raises Billable Utilization Significantly
There is mounting evidence that Professional Services Automation delivers real benefit to services organizations, and therefore there is increased interest in it from all sectors and sizes of the services industry. A recent end-users survey by the Service Performance Insight (SPI) shows that implementing PSA improves billable utilization by 6%.
Improving resource planning and scheduling results in an uptick in billable utilization and that in turn means an increase in revenue. How does PSA achieve this? The best way of unlocking this extra revenue is through proactive resourcing, which can be best achieved with a PSA integrated with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. A CRM that is closely linked to PSA allows for early visibility of pipeline and demand, allowing for consideration of all the options available.
While not all applications offer or prioritize a connection with CRM, only PSA that is integrated with CRM gives visibility of the resource pool across the whole company. That allows time that has previously been wasted to be unlocked, increasing billable utilization and revenue and enabling the best teams to be allocated to the most appropriate projects.
Resource management is not an entirely mechanical exercise. Putting teams together in the best possible way will always require human intervention alongside the support of technology. Thus, resource managers will never be replaced by PSA, they will rather work in sync with the technology to enhance current operations.
Why is PSA + CRM important?
The early versions of PSA arose from accounting tools in the form of Project Accounting add ons. Some of the PSA-type tools on the market today are still primarily aimed at the financial department and that is useful – up to a point. It improves invoicing and is shows how the business performed historically, but that’s all. This type of PSA only helps to run a business in the rear-view mirror.
Services businesses don’t have the highest levels of predictability, so having a PSA linked to CRM allows them to see out into the future with greater confidence than simply best-guess or historical estimates. They need to be able to see what work is coming down the pipeline towards them, to understand what skills will be needed and to plan and schedule the resources ahead of time. PSA integrated with CRM was developed to meet the needs of services businesses. This integration creates visibility across the organization, from sales to delivery.
Human capital does not materialize overnight. Finding the right person, hiring them, and onboarding them takes time. And, in a services business, hiring people is the main way of growing the business. Aggregating demand from the forecast and using this to guide hiring decisions provides a solid basis for recruitment.
For most services organizations, establishing a close link between pipeline (CRM) and resource and delivery (PSA) offers the possibility of transforming how the business operates. It creates a shared system that can grow and scale with the business. Integrating the PSA with the CRM gives much greater visibility and helps to improve the efficiency of the organization, notably in the key area of resource planning and scheduling. Having a PSA of this type is a requirement for moving to more proactive resourcing – read this Best Practice Guide for more information.
Four Ways Integrating CRM and PSA Optimizes Resourcing
Get A forward-looking view
Using a powerful PSA solution which links sales and delivery means that information which is coming from all parts of the organization can be gathered in one place, the real-time accurate source of data, the single source of the truth. For resourcing, this means having visibility of the demand that is coming down the pipeline by role.
By looking forward at not just won projects, but also those in the pipeline, the entire resourcing process can start earlier. This then leaves more time for resource managers to put together and optimize the best teams with appropriate mix of skills and experience.
They can also look at the kind of skills that are in demand and how that is changing – checking on what projects were lost as well as what were won. Aggregating demand like this is a good basis for recruitment, and tuning the resource pool to the market.
Break down the silos
In some organizations, information about what deals might be round the corner stays with the sales team. But using a PSA like Kimble means that this becomes visible to the resourcing team, meaning they can plan ahead to ensure the right resources are available. This increases the potential for team-working.
It is a two-way street – if the sales team can see that there is availability of certain resources coming up, they can sell that time. They can incentivise early start dates, knowing the company can meet them.
Where the sales process and the resourcing process are tightly integrated, proposals are based on the reality of the available resources – and their costs. This is a major benefit of having the PSA solution tightly integrated with the CRM solution.
Manage change in existing projects
Sales is the major generator of demand in most services organizations. However there is another source – from existing projects and customers. Engagements expand, the scope changes, or perhaps the work takes longer than expected.
A PSA linked to the CRM is invaluable here because it enables visibility of change in demand and the implications of that for the resources. For instance, if a start date slips, or an end date changes, the resourcing schedule will have to change. The sooner that resourcing managers know about this the better.
Equally, there may be changes in the project. Are these outside the scope of the original contract? This could be an opportunity to upsell and bring in more time or more resources.
This opportunity to manage change effectively means that it is easier to get and keep the most appropriate resources on customer engagements. For example, you may have put a resource on a project based on experience or cost, but as time goes by it is important to rotate your resources in the most profitable way. Having full visibility into the pipeline makes it easy to spot non-optimal resource allocation.
That in turn increases the chance that projects will be delivered successfully, on time and on budget and that customer satisfaction levels will be high.
Resource across the whole business
Effectively managing resources across the whole business can be highly complex. In the past, resources generally had to be managed by team or location. There simply was no realistic alternative to the local manager scheduling and planning resources’ time.
But PSA gives visibility of all the windows of time which are available across the business. This enables teams to be assembled by skill, not just by department or location.
Services operations which can put such processes in place effectively will enjoy significant competitive advantages over those that persist with a siloed resourcing model in which demand and supply are local to each business unit.
An intelligent resourcing management system will allow bid/project managers to search a global resource pool for the best possible match for an upcoming engagement – based on skills, location, cost, and availability. The PSA can accurately record agreements to share revenue/cost so that this can be baked into the project plan and all revenue/margin forecasts of all participating business units are accurate.
Resourcing in this new way results in an increase in billable utilization.
What does this look like in practice?
Many businesses report an immediate impact on resource planning and scheduling when they implement Kimble PSA, which produces an uptick in billable utilization, revenue and profits.
One real-world example is Pearson’s North American school curriculum products and services arm, which adopted Kimble in May, 2017, having previously relied on home-grown technology and spreadsheets which required a great deal of laborious manual work.
After implementing Kimble, they are now able to attach resources to engagements ahead of time with greater confidence. Director of Professional Services Chris Mannix said in a video case study: “Using Kimble and Salesforce allows us to track and analyze what we are selling and then what we are servicing.”
Having a source of accurate, real-time data to draw on enables managers to take a more forward-looking approach to scheduling and planning resources. Chris said: “This means we can take better care of our customers”.
Another example is digital transformation specialist T-Impact, who found that adopting Kimble Professional Services Automation (PSA) produced an immediate improvement in billable utilization, as Simon Watkins, head of service delivery explains in a case study.
Like many customers, T-Impact discovered after implementing Kimble, that their previous estimates of utilization had been flawed. Because they couldn’t see all the pockets of time that were being wasted, they thought that utilization across the business was higher than it actually was. Now, having a more accurate view of resource availability means they have been able to push up billable utilization significantly. They are also in a position to make better informed recruitment decisions, based on aggregating the demand that is coming towards them.
And adopting Kimble PSA has enabled award-winning cloud technology firm Makepositive to optimize resource allocation and also to recruit more strategically, COO Matt Cooksley explained in a case study how PSA+CRM assists with this area of resource planning.
“Our resourcing team works extremely closely with our recruitment team. They can say two months ahead, for example, that we need three more developers based in Manchester, or we need two more testers based in India, perhaps it will be four. We can hire the right people. We don’t want to hire two functional resources when we actually need two developers. This also means that our customers get the perfect teams working for them.”
We have seen that PSA that is integrated with the CRM solution offers an opportunity to transform how resource planning and scheduling are carried out in a services organization.
Kimble is one of the leading PSAs of this type available today, scoring highest on the independent crowd review site G2 among the leading PSAs for return on investment (ROI) and adoption.
Kimble is embedded within the world’s most popular CRM, Salesforce, which means that data can be shared easily between the PSA and the CRM. Kimble can also integrate with any other CRM.
A PSA like Kimble offers more than a tool or a framework to make minor adjustments. Instead it offers a full end-to-end solution which can drive efficiency, raise billable utilization and revenue, and in turn ensure high levels of customer satisfaction.