There could be a huge impact on your revenue and services resource planning if your quote bill of materials (BOM) and your forecast are not integrated.
You did everything right… you thought. You checked the forecast to determine your hiring needs for upcoming projects. You found what you thought were the right candidates to successfully complete the projects. They start next week.
You are meeting with the project management team to allocate resources based on the most up-to-date quote and you realize:
- The candidates you hired don’t have the right technical specializations and skill sets to meet the project requirements,
- You had existing resources on hand that did have the right skill sets and they were not allocated despite the fact that your data said they were, and
- Based on the revised quotes, the forecast should have told you that you are not expecting the project revenue to pay for these new resources for 3 months.
How did this happen? You based your hiring decisions on the forecast.
The answer: the forecast was wrong. Although the quotes went through rounds of revisions, only some of those changes actually made it to the current forecast.
3 Things an IT Solution Provider Needs to Know to Make Good Business Decisions
As the CEO of a large IT solution provider with a growing Cisco practice, I needed better visibility in three key areas to make educated decisions about investing in additional technical and delivery resources to maximize company and project profitability:
- What specific skill sets will be required to fulfill high probability future projects?
- When can I expect additional revenue to pay for new resources?
- What are my current labor utilization rates for existing resources?
Most importantly, how can I ensure that I am basing my critical business decisions on accurate, up-to-date data?
Many IT Solution providers use a CRM to forecast their opportunities and a separate 3rd party quoting tool (or Word & Excel spreadsheets) for creating quotation documents. In most complex IT solution sales pursuits, there are several problems with this approach:
Changes to the quote don’t update the forecast.
There may be three, four or five different iterations of a quote during a pursuit, with considerable scope differences between each version. If your quote is disconnected from your forecast, that means your reps must remember to update the opportunity manually when the quote changes. That’s never going to happen consistently, so your forecast will now be consistently inaccurate.
Which BOM belongs to which quote version?
Each quote version, especially if you’re using a manufacturer configurator (Cisco Netformx, HP eConfigure, etc.,) has its own supporting equipment and labor BOM. If the customer comes back and selects quote version number three, out of five different quote versions… how do you keep track of which equipment and labor BOM belonged to which quote version?
What specific resource specializations are needed for future projects?
The opportunity forecast numbers are typically a roll-up from the quote and even the quote is often a roll-up of the actual labor BOM. The result is a combined bucket of 200 hours and is useless for services resource planning purposes.
What you really need is to know is how the 200 hours are broken down:
- By technical specialization: wireless, unified communications, storage and
- By skills area: project management, delivery and training resources.
Only then can you accurately map what specific resources you currently have against what resources you’ll need for future projects and make the appropriate hiring labor resource investments.
The only way to make truly informed and accurate decisions about when a growing business needs to bring on additional technical and delivery resources is if the quotes are linked directly to a real-time forecasting tool, and if your forecast is detailed enough to forecast by resource specialization (contains the labor BOM that the quote is based on).
We ultimately solved this problem with the integrated quoting and forecasting tools which are part of the PROMYS professional service automation software solution. So, although I still can’t forecast the winning lottery ticket numbers, I became a lot more confident making labor resource investments after implementing the Promys psa software.