4 Ways CRM & PSA Improve Resource Planning and Scheduling
In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, efficient resource planning and scheduling are essential levers that help professional services organizations to stay ahead of the curve. The best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Professional Services Automation (PSA) tools offer comprehensive solutions to streamline these essential processes, and have the potential, when integrated, to deliver forward-looking insights that inform more confident resource forecasting and allocation.
Leveraging the power of CRM and PSA systems will help your business optimize resource utilization, enhance project management, boost team collaboration, and ultimately deliver exceptional customer experiences.
In this article, we explore how integrating PSA and CRM systems helps services organizations increase workforce productivity and billable utilization. We consider the evolution of the professional services software landscape, as a new generation of Professional Service Clouds designed to drive more accurate resource forecasts has emerged. We outline how this new approach emphasizes a seamless connection with CRM, transcending the legacy of backwards-looking, ERP-centric PSA solutions.
We also look at the latest research and explain how The Kantata Professional Services Cloud represents a next gen-solution that gives your business a competitive edge. Finally, we delve into the four key ways CRM & PSA can help you improve your resource planning and scheduling, and increase overall customer satisfaction.
Leverage PSA and CRM Systems To Increase Revenue and Profitability
As the evidence supporting the benefits of integrating PSA and CRM systems continues to mount, services organizations are increasingly seeking out solutions that enable them to extend the value of their CRM data with integrated capabilities purpose-built for the needs of professional services firms.
This is exactly what The Kantata Professional Services Cloud is designed to do. But before we dive into how the Kantata Cloud works, let’s have a look at some of the research showing how integrating PSA and CRM systems help companies unlock new revenue.
To start with, a recent Forrester research study commissioned by Kantata and Salesforce clearly shows the need for improved pipeline visibility to enable better resource planning:
- 59% of professional services decision-makers said they found predicting project resource needs in advance very challenging
- 51% of respondents said they struggled to conduct resource planning across the entire services work – both internal and external
- 49% found it challenging to manage project pipelines with the ability to track probability and underlying resource needs, so skill and capacity gaps are assessed ahead of demand.
These numbers indicate that many businesses have a need for more and better information, as well as better tools for resource planning, analytics, and project management. When businesses manage to get all those pieces of the puzzle right, it has a massive impact on their bottom line.
According to Service Performance Insight’s 2023 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark, when CRM and PSA are integrated, businesses win a higher percentage of their bids, and the annual revenue per employee is higher.
“Integrated CRM and PSA help sales and service delivery better collaborate to ensure sales is selling what service delivery can deliver. Increased pipelines and a higher percentage of bids won help drive revenue growth, even with larger discounts given.”Service Performance Insight’s 2023 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark
Another study, SPI’s 2022 Professional Services Automation End-User Survey, shows that businesses that adopted PSA saw an 8.2% absolute improvement in employee billable utilization. These studies all show that enhancing resource planning and scheduling by extending the value of CRM with software built for professional services directly contributes to increased billable utilization and, consequently, a rise in revenue and profitability.
The key to unlocking this additional revenue lies in proactive resourcing. A closely linked CRM and PSA provide early visibility into pipeline and demand, enabling thoughtful consideration of available options. This unlocks previously wasted time, leading to a more productive workforce, higher billable utilization, increased revenue, and the ability to allocate the best teams to the most suitable projects.
While resource management requires a blend of human intervention and technological support, PSA complements the role of resource managers rather than replacing them. Together, they work in sync to enhance current operations, ensuring teams are assembled in the most effective manner possible.
By combining the power of CRM and PSA, resource managers can optimize their resource planning and scheduling to elevate overall performance and deliver exceptional results for the business.
Why is PSA + CRM important?
For most services organizations, establishing a close link between pipeline (CRM) and resourcing and delivery (PSA) offers the possibility of transforming how the business operates. It creates a shared system that can grow and scale with the business. Integrating the PSA with the CRM gives much greater visibility and helps to improve the efficiency of the organization, notably in the key area of resource planning and scheduling.
Services businesses don’t have the highest levels of predictability, so having a PSA seamlessly linked to CRM allows them to see out into the future with greater confidence than simply best-guess or historical estimates. They need to be able to see what work is coming down the pipeline towards them, to understand what skills will be needed and to plan and schedule their resources ahead of time.
Human capital does not materialize overnight. Finding the right person, hiring them, and onboarding them takes time. And, in a services business, hiring people is the main way of growing the business. Aggregating demand from the forecast and using this to guide hiring decisions provides a solid basis for recruitment.
It is worth noting that not every PSA solution will be able to deliver the forward-looking insights needed to improve resource forecasts and streamline staffing processes. The early versions of PSA arose from accounting tools in the form of project accounting add-ons to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. Some of the PSA-type tools on the market today are still primarily aimed at the financial department, and that is useful – up to a point. It improves invoicing and shows how the business performed historically, but that’s all. This type of traditional PSA only helps to run a business in the rearview mirror.
A new generation of Professional Service Clouds purpose-built to address the unique resource forecasting and planning needs of professional services organizations has emerged. These solutions emphasize a seamless connection with CRM, transcending the legacy of traditional, backwards-looking, ERP-centric PSA solutions.
Can PSA and CRM be built into one product?
Yes, CRM and PSA systems can be built into one product. However, opting for that solution has some serious drawbacks.
A combined solution tends to dilute the quality of each product, and most businesses find that working with best-of-breed vendors that provide purpose-built solutions and integrating them gives a better, more powerful, and more robust result.
Disadvantages of merging PSA and CRM systems into one product include limited customization, increased vendor dependency, complex upgrades and maintenance, higher upfront costs, and general feature limitations.
4 Ways Integrating CRM and PSA Optimizes Resource Management
Professional services organizations that connect CRM and PSA are experiencing the following advantages:
Getting A Forward-Looking View
Using a powerful PSA solution which links sales and delivery means that information which is coming from all parts of the organization can be gathered in one place – a real-time accurate source of data, a single source of the truth. For resourcing, this means having visibility of the demand that is coming down the pipeline by role.
By looking forward at not just won projects, but also those in the pipeline, the entire resourcing process can start earlier. This then leaves more time for resource managers to put together and optimize the best teams with the appropriate mix of skills and experience.
They can also look at the kind of skills that are in demand and how that is changing – checking on what projects were lost as well as what was won. Aggregating demand like this is a good basis for recruitment, and tuning the resource pool to the market.
Breaking Down Silos
In some organizations, information about what deals might be around the corner stays with the sales team. But using a holistic solution like Kantata means that this becomes visible to the resourcing team, meaning they can plan ahead to ensure the right resources are available. This increases the potential for team-working.
It is a two-way street – if the sales team can see that there is availability of certain resources coming up, they can sell that time. They can incentivize early start dates, knowing the company can meet them.
Where the sales process and the resourcing process are tightly integrated, proposals are based on the reality of the available resources – and their costs. This is a major benefit of having CRM tightly integrated with a PSA solution.
Managing Change In Existing Projects
Sales is the major generator of demand in most services organizations. However, there is another source – from existing projects and customers. Engagements expand, the scope changes, or perhaps the work takes longer than expected.
A PSA linked to the CRM is invaluable here because it enables visibility of change in demand and the implications of that for the resources. For instance, if a start date slips, or an end date changes, the resourcing schedule will have to change. The sooner that resourcing managers know about this the better.
Equally, there may be changes in the project. Are these outside the scope of the original contract? This could be an opportunity to upsell and bring in more time or more resources.
This opportunity to manage change effectively means that it is easier to get and keep the most appropriate resources on customer engagements. For example, you may have put a resource on a project based on experience or cost, but as time goes by it is important to rotate your resources in the most profitable way. Having full visibility into the pipeline makes it easy to spot sub-optimal resource allocation.
That in turn increases the chance that projects will be delivered successfully, on time and on budget, and that customer satisfaction levels will be high.
Planning Resources Across the Whole Business
Effectively managing resources across the whole business can be highly complex. In the past, resources generally had to be managed by team or location. There simply was no realistic alternative to the local manager scheduling and planning resources’ time.
But PSA gives visibility of all the windows of time which are available across the business. This enables teams to be assembled by skill, not just by department or location.
Services organizations that can put such processes in place effectively will enjoy significant competitive advantages over those that persist with a siloed resourcing model in which demand and supply are local to each business unit.
An intelligent resource management system will allow bid/project managers to search a global resource pool for the best possible match for an upcoming engagement – based on skills, location, cost, and availability. The PSA can accurately record agreements to share revenue/cost so that this can be baked into the project plan and all revenue/margin forecasts of all participating business units are accurate.
Resourcing in this new way results in an increase in billable utilization. To see what even a small increase in billable utilization could mean for your business, try our Resource Utilization and Revenue calculator!
Extend the Value of CRM Data With the Kantata Professional Services Cloud
Kantata works with professional services organizations worldwide, empowering them to leverage their CRM solutions effectively and transform data related to their workforce and operations into actionable insights.
The Kantata Professional Services Cloud is built around every company’s most valuable asset: their people. It’s designed to seamlessly integrate with existing tech stacks, connecting resource, financial and project data, thus overcoming the limitations and silos traditionally created by generic ERP, CWM, and PPM systems as well as legacy PSA solutions.
According to the Total Economic ImpactTM of Kantata, a Forrester study commissioned by Salesforce and Kantata, businesses using Kantata have improved their utilization of billable resources by 10%.
“Kantata allows executives and project managers to see resource availability in real-time to identify underutilized resources. More rigorous time entry and billing features in Kantata prevent human errors and improve the accuracy of reported billable utilization.”The Total Economic ImpactTM of Kantata
One example showcasing this value is West Monroe, a leading digital services firm, that had a clear understanding of the pivotal role Kantata could play in enhancing their CRM capabilities.
West Monroe recognized the significance of integrating Kantata seamlessly with their CRM, Salesforce, to unlock its full potential. Their primary objective was to achieve heightened forecast accuracy by leveraging the resource dimension that Kantata could add to their pipeline.
In Kantata, West Monroe found a solution that perfectly aligned with their needs, enabling them to harness the power of data integration and optimize their sales forecasting process. The outcome was a significant improvement in their overall business efficiency and performance.
“One of the greatest improvements we’ve seen with Kantata is the ability to forecast accurately. Having accurate resource forecasts has provided us with the insight to better predict where we’re going and what adjustments we may have to make to impact business performance.”Jill Novosel, Director, West Monroe
By creating a seamless connection between CRM and resource management capabilities purpose-built for the professional services industry, the Kantata Cloud is transcending the legacy of backwards-looking, ERP-centric PSA solutions, offering significant advantages for professional services businesses. Combining the power of these systems, businesses gain forward-looking insights, optimize resource planning, and improve efficiency.
Real-time visibility into the pipeline allows resource managers to assemble the best teams with the right skills, and sales teams can align proposals with available resources. Managing change in existing projects becomes more efficient, and businesses can effectively plan and allocate resources across the entire organization.
The Kantata Cloud takes resource planning and scheduling to the next level, unlocking new revenue opportunities and increasing billable utilization for professional services organizations.