Is it time to break your Wild West cowboy business habits?
Anyone that sells PSA software will tell you that you need PSA software to run your business. But the truth is, there are many professional services organizations that can easily run without it. A combination of accounting software, CRM/Contact Management software and a few Excel spreadsheets can easily do the trick.
This approach tends to work reasonably well when the organizations are small, owner operators have direct interaction with most operational transactions (Quoting, Scheduling, Invoicing, etc), projects are small and staff communication consists of e-mail, voice mail and shouting across desk partitions to people who all work in the same room.
This approach is sufficient for the cowboys; companies that are riding the Wild West to build their business and don’t need to or want to introduce structured business processes into their business. Business processes are perceived as “slowing them down”. They are running the business on instinct and sheer brute force of effort.
But when a company grows and mistakes start to happen as a growing volume of data is moved from one step to the other and this results in delays in order fulfillment, or billing, or customer support problems, then the cowboy approach is no longer working.
When is the right time to move from the Wild West to a more standardized approach to running a professional services business?
Most professional services organizations start to consider PSA software when they want to scale. In order to grow the business, the cowboys need to address:
- Improving organizational efficiency
- Providing management with a way of automating formal consistent business processes
- Institutionalizing company best practices
- Providing management with better visibility, audit trails and accountability into the business.
Here are 10 leading indicators that should trigger your search for PSA software and better business processes to support it:
- You are re-keying data more than two or three times as part of the sales, fulfillment and the billing process. These re-keying steps cause errors and delays and overall inefficiency.
- Your sales quotes aren’t always based on accurate parts or margins which causes forecasting, profitability and fulfillment errors.
- You have disconnects between sales and project fulfillment making it difficult to cycle implementation lessons learned back into the sales process. As a result, quoting mistakes keep getting repeated.
- There are frequent misunderstandings between people providing quotes and order fulfillment. People in administration must re-key or manually reference bill of materials and labor estimates that quotes were based on, which leads to keying errors and fulfillment delays.
- Tracking equipment from multiple orders for purchasing, shipping and invoicing, is very time consuming and an error prone process leading to fulfillment delays and billing errors.
- Project managers can’t easily compare project budget estimates with project actuals and often only find out project profitability after the project has closed.
- Labor Utilization is hard to measure and subsequently billable labor utilization “leaks” are hard to find and plug.
- Help desk personnel can’t easily reference which customer assets are or aren’t under service contract, leading to customer disputes about billable and non-billable support services.
- Difficulty in determining service contract profitability causes unprofitable service contacts to be renewed at the same price.
- Difficulty in tracking changes to customer assets under service contract at time of renewal (RMA’s, additions, exchanges, returns) causes disputes regarding what customer assets are and are not covered, delaying contract renewal.
The truth is, if your business doesn’t have any have any of these problems, then keep riding the open range cowboy, it’s a good life.
But if you’re tired of all the gun fights with staff and customers, if you keep getting ambushed and blind-sided, or if your customers or employees have started showing up with pitch forks and torches, then it just might be time to pull the trigger on this thing called “PSA software.”