Services Drives Success for
Professional Services (PS) teams in product companies play a pivotal role in supporting the sales cycle, shrinking the time for new customers to see a return on their investment, and creating the foundation for long -term customer success. However, those teams have been poorly served by the systems they have to use to achieve these objectives, frequently having to make do with a disjointed mix of CRM and project management tools, patched together via spreadsheets and manual re-keying of data.
In this article, we examine the damaging impact of these legacy systems on the efficiency of PS teams and explain how Professional Services Automation (PSA)— now well established as the essential software backbone for pure-play consulting organizations— also helps product companies achieve their goal of consistent customer success.
Customer Success: The Primary Mission of PS Teams in Product Companies
Product companies give their PS teams a more complex set of objectives than pure-play consulting organizations. In addition to achieving company targets for profitability and utilization, they are also tasked with accelerating a customer’s time-to-value, shrinking the time and effort needed to get their company’s products implemented and adopted. In this environment, getting service delivery right has far-reaching benefits for the product company as a whole including:
- A smooth and timely transition from sales to delivery
- Consistently meeting customer expectations leading to high levels of advocacy
- Quicker realization of customer ROI which drives higher levels of product adoption
- Increased up-sell and cross-sell opportunities founded on initial implementation success
- Reduced churn from customers who never successfully implemented the product
Having the right PS resources available to consistently deliver the right project at the right time has become an essential part of any product company’s customer success strategy.
Service Teams Have Been Poorly Served by Traditional Business Systems
Despite the increasingly strategic importance of PS team efficiency, product companies have continued to operate their service organization on systems and processes that were never designed for this purpose. PS teams have often had to make do with sales order focused systems that were never built for the needs of service delivery, asked to do planning and forecasting on ad-hoc, homegrown systems, and forced to manage back-end billing and accounting processes with tools which were designed for simple one-time product-based transactions. The outcome of having to make do with systems that were never built for the needs of service delivery are, not surprisingly, far from ideal:
- Delays in the sales cycle due to unavailability of scoping or implementation resources
- Constantly in firefighting mode as expected project delivery dates are missed.
- Inability to accurately anticipate future demand leading to delays in project kick-offs
- Missed customer expectations due to poor collaboration between sales and delivery teams
- Low customer satisfaction ratings resulting from project delays or missed customer requirements during the scoping process
- No trusted single source of truth to identify trends and support data-driven hiring decisions
For Service Teams, PSA is the Essential Missing Link Between Sales, Support and Finance
PSA platforms have become an essential part of an efficiently managed professional services organization, consulting business, or project-based services team; providing the operational framework required to run a connected and efficient services business. PSA enables projects to be run efficiently and predictably, providing the tools to manage the people engaged in the delivery of those projects, automating invoicing and revenue recognition, and driving the analytics required to match resource planning with future demand. Kimble PSA provides a purpose-built system to support the following processes:
Kimble proposal modeling tools provide a systematic, consistent way to build plans with a full understanding of resource effort, timings, margin, and expenses. Tight integration with CRM ensures close collaboration between your sales, service delivery, and customer success teams.
Resource managers have visibility to the future demands of both current projects, and also those anticipated engagements currently in the sales pipeline; creating trusted insight into the complete future demands on your resource pool.
Supporting both traditional waterfall and agile service delivery methods, Kimble provides real-time visibility to the projected effort, cost, and margins. Intelligent insights guide project managers on priority actions required to keep customer engagements on track.
Time & Expense Billing:
Kimble PSA provides modern, intelligent time and expense management tools to ensure timely tracking of actual effort, forecast remaining effort, record costs—the source data for customer billing. Automated invoice generation eliminates error-prone re-keying and system-enforced approval processes enable prompt customer payment and reduce the likelihood of billing disputes.
PSA handles the services-specific accounting functions such as revenue recognition and profitability analysis. Kimble provides a real-time position of revenue and costs throughout the entire lifecycle of all projects and long-term customer engagements.
PSA provides the trusted foundation for forecasting resource demand, revenue, margin, and cash flow across the entire services organization giving senior management the information they need to make the best decisions on how to match the resource pool with future demand.
Kimble PSA: Purpose Built to Support the Mission of PS Teams in Product Companies
The good news for PS teams in product companies is they no longer have to make do with legacy systems and tools which were only built to solve the far simpler process of traditional, transaction-based order processing. Driven initially by the best practices and proven processes of pure-play consulting organizations, in the last decade we have seen the emergence of a whole new category of professional services automation software, purpose-built to support the end-to-end running of a service delivery organization.
There is a range of expected benefits of implementing PSA that are common to both pure-play consulting firms and product company PS teams including:
- Providing complete visibility throughout the project lifecycle and across all projects
- Improving resource utilization and resource productivity
- Enabling better decision making based on real-time, aggregate data from across the entire organization
- Improved forecasting to match future demand with supply
- Billing automation reduces customer disputes and improves cash flow
- Reduced revenue leakage due to systematic enforcement of contract terms
The even better news is that Kimble PSA also provides the platform to tackle the specific objectives of product companies where the mission of Professional Services extends beyond financial targets of service delivery to also include the broader aspects of driving product adoption and setting the foundation for long-term customer success. These additional benefits include:
- Higher customer satisfaction and quicker time to value
- Improved collaboration between sales and service to ensure a full understanding of client requirements
- Faster time to value for customers leading to higher levels of customer advocacy
- Reduced delays to project kick-offs and reduced project overrun
- Ability to quickly create and track the effectiveness of new service offerings
Kimble PSA delivers configurable best practice processes in a scalable, trusted, future-proof cloud application that enables PS teams to deliver on their essential mission of driving customer success, while performing within the agreed financial targets of your product company.
Final Thoughts & Next Steps
The PS teams’ essential mission is to get the customer to the promised benefit sooner. Doing this predictably engagement after engagement builds customer relationships for the long term and is also vital to a strong product business. For more tips on how to drive customer success, read our ebook, Five Steps To Getting Customers Successful Sooner.