Automation in Professional Services Automation

The “A” in PSA: Automation for Better Business Outcomes

Blog_TheAinPSALeading professional services automation software has one main goal in mind, delivering on-time, profitable contract-based engagements. While straightforward in theory, managing the quote-to-cash process is complicated. There are many stages, tasks and adjustments involved that can lead to costly mistakes like:

  • missing key contract requirements while transitioning from opportunity to project
  • accidentally assigning resources with inadequate skills and experience
  • billing customers late, and inaccurately (double whammy)

Mistakes like this arise when there is not a programmatic process. You end up dedicating valuable time diagnosing and addressing the gaps. And in most cases, this “diagnoses” is occurring across multiple, disparate information systems. Downstream this typically leads to lost productivity, dissatisfied clients, and team stress – all of which hinder the ability to deliver on time.

There are not many other sectors where time equals money more than professional services. In this world profitability is tied to strict management of very intricate processes. This is where “automation” comes in. Automation is based on a workflow process that automatically performs certain project lifecycle tasks.

For the quote-to-cash lifecycle, automation takes mundane grunt work off delivery managers’ plates. This allows them to focus on strategies that add quality to their services delivery. However, with such an intricate process, the challenge is knowing where to start. Three areas that make sense are:

Customer and contract management

Successful professional services delivery starts when projects enter the opportunity stage in a CRM. Why is this? Because of time to revenue – the faster your projects are up and running, the faster you can start recognizing revenue. Thus, you need access to opportunity data at the onset to establish project parameters as soon as possible.

However, if you are manually transferring opportunity data from the CRM to the PSA system, functional alignment can get lost from the start then the project is off the rails. People try to catch up, operating in ad-hoc fashion as they try to:

  • line out project requirements including rates and delivery schedule
  • forecast and fulfill demand
  • understand and manage client expectations

A pure-play PSA solution seamlessly integrates with any CRM. This sets the stage for an end-to-end workflow that ensures relevant opportunity data is automatically captured, processed, and routed to the PSA system. The speed and accuracy automation brings raises the level of quality to this initial step of managing a quote-to-cash lifecycle.

Resource management

Consultants always want the greatest efficiency possible. How quickly and accurately their resources are assigned, allocated, onboarded, and managed is how they get paid. Automation can play a huge role in helping them. Let's say you want to receive a resource availability report every Monday morning. Services automation software solutions have automatic reporting capabilities consultants can use to generate a “snapshot” like this to understand:

  • what resources are available for scheduling
  • the downstream impact certain resources will have on margin
  • the amount of non-billable work resources are doing

You could, for example, build an electronic form to capture data related to certain resource skills, capabilities, and experience requirements. That captured data is then used to initiate a workflow process that automatically checks those requirements against a list of available resource options. Then appropriate resources are automatically recommended through a standard report you receive at a date and time of your choosing. Automation examples like this can take project visibility and control to another level.

Revenue recognition

Thus, nothing says quality services delivery better than consistent streams of incoming revenue. Every quote-to-cash task performed is based on staying on top of resources and expenses while maximizing revenue. While opportunity, contract, customer, and resource management are tasks mentioned above, they are hardly the long and short of it.

If possible, you should automate every aspect of the quote-to-cash lifecycle. However, automating revenue recognition is non-negotiable. Automating the revenue recognition process does a few key things:

  • saves time pulling together billing and invoicing data
  • routes invoices to clients with greater speed and accuracy
  • recognizes revenue faster, relying on electronic data as opposed to paper billing

As fulfillment, billing and delivery of services occur, revenue recognition should automatically work in harmony with other systems to process revenue data and transform it into financial results for the company.

As stated earlier, every aspect of the quote-to-cash lifecycle should be automated where possible. The most mature, highest performing professional services teams use automation to foster greater centralization, standardization, accuracy, agility as well as better cashflow. Learn more about Changepoint’s PSA capabilities today.

The Ultimate Guide to Services Automation

Scott Mitchell

Article by Scott Mitchell

Scott is Product Marketing Manager for Changepoint Services Automation – software that extends traditional project management capabilities ...

Read more from this author
Better Visibility, Alignment, and Acceleration Cross-Enterprise

Featured Resource

Better Visibility, Alignment, and Acceleration Cross-Enterprise

Request a Demo