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10-Step Quote-to-Cash Cycle for Professional Services (and How to Improve Yours)

    

10 Step Quote to Cash Cycle for Professional Services

Your quote-to-cash (QTC) cycle dictates your ability to close new business. 

As a professional services organization (PSO), it’s important to make sure you are checking all the boxes for sales; resource management; operations and account management; and accounting, billing, and accounts receivable. From the first ready-to-buy indication from your prospective client to your proposal or quote to closing the sale to executing services and receiving payment, efficiency is critical to improving your profitability. 

This efficiency has a direct impact on your bottom line, in part because longer, slower processes take up more resources, drive up costs, and inhibit your ability to actually see the revenue from your services. 

From the perspective of your clients, a slow or ineffective quote-to-cash cycle can also push them to consider other competitors who are promising a better customer experience. 

Many steps are involved in the quote-to-cash cycle, which makes an organized, streamlined approach all the more valuable to your organization. Here’s a look at the 10 steps of quote-to-cash, and how you can optimize this cycle within your own organization. 

1. Sales pipeline management and forecasting

Sales pipeline management and forecasting is the process of predicting how sales efforts will lead to future business opportunities. To conduct this forecasting, businesses need to develop accurate assumptions of certain sales and business factors, including the number of targeted prospects and estimated success rates for their sales efforts. 

To that end, businesses should consider integrating a professional services automation solution with their CRM to better track opportunities and measure the success of each engagement.

2. Project scoping and estimation

Scoping and estimation are performed on a case-by-case basis, defining a full list of deliverables, deadlines, project goals, and the overall cost of executing the project.

Professional services organizations should create a template for scoping that allows scope-of-work proposals to be quickly created. When scoping is streamlined, your PSO uses fewer resources to create accurate and realistic expectations while shortening the time it takes to submit a proposal to prospects.

3. Proposals and approvals

Before proposals can be sent to a prospect, the proposal needs to be reviewed and approved internally. Many organizations require multiple sign-offs before proposals can be finalized and delivered—for example, client services/operations, legal, and accounting.

Slow approvals can drag out this process and put the project and client relationship at risk. One way to solve this challenge is by using a solution that auto-notifies stakeholders for sign-off when approvals are needed.

4. Contract negotiation and acceptance

Once proposals are sent, PSOs will negotiate contract terms with a client and make agreed proposal changes until acceptable terms are reached. 

This process is most efficient when digital, cloud-based management solutions are in place to facilitate easy edits and collaboration on shared documents that define the project and the business relationship.

5. Project staffing

Once project terms are accepted, professional services companies need to assign the appropriate staff and resources to the project according to the needs of the client. Understanding your personnel availability, project timelines, and budget is critical for increasing profitability for your projects while correctly managing client expectations.

This process is best accomplished through a centralized platform where projects, tasks, and assignments can be easily managed, with resources and staff added or removed according to the shifting needs and preferences of the client.

6. Project execution

Effective project execution depends on project management capabilities that keep tasks and subtasks organized and on schedule. Understanding which projects are at risk, which are on target, and which are ahead of schedule (and why) will help you pivot when needed and provide valuable insight back to sales and management for future planning. 

The ability to meet deadlines is a crucial aspect of successful project execution. Using a professional services automation tool to track progress and make adjustments where necessary, management can ensure that projects remain on track for on-time completion. 

7. Consultant time and expense capture

A PSO needs access to accurate information regarding time and expense data. This improves resource management, enables more accurate pricing, and improves both revenue forecasting and measurement efforts.

Accurate time and expense capture requires access to cloud-based solutions that provide these resources anytime, anywhere.

8. Project completion and acceptance

Workflows are completed, and deliverables are sent to the client. Keep in mind that certain changes to an order or project may be requested during the development process. An efficient quote-to-cash cycle will account for these revisions and requests, rather than setting turnaround times and workflows that can’t be flexible to a client’s changing needs.

Businesses should have a clear procedure in place to finalize project details, receive internal approval, and deliver finished products to clients.

9. Invoicing

Final invoicing needs to account for changes in the services charged and services rendered. Accurate invoicing is required to ensure that revenue forecasts are realized. 

Businesses should consider cloud-based invoicing solutions to expedite invoice delivery and payment, accelerating revenue recognition.

10. Collection

Internal accounting teams should stay on top of invoices owed to encourage fast payment. 

Inefficient collection workflows can delay revenue receipt and reduce your company’s cash on hand, which increases the risk of incorrect or incomplete payments and, ultimately, lost revenue.

Conclusion

The quote-to-cash cycle is a company-wide effort, requiring efficient collaboration and communication from employees across a number of departments.

Your ability to execute a streamlined quote-to-cash cycle—and, thus, your ability to optimize your revenue generation—depends on unifying your workers and their job responsibilities through a centralized platform that coordinates these activities and creates new efficiencies in how you do business.

Looking for more? Learn three benefits of leveraging the right PSA solution to equip your team and three reasons why the old ways just won’t cut it.