Is your marketing team or agency losing hours to gathering business data, correcting billing issues, tracking projects and other administrative tasks? Are efforts to control costs and prevent over- and under-servicing of clients interfering with getting work done?
You’re not alone.
A recent HubSpot survey uncovered data indicating agency owners and senior leaders were experiencing difficulty managing their teams’ time. The survey data highlighted three main problems:
· Lack of time for administrative tasks was the second most common point of pain for owners and senior leaders.
· While 80 percent claimed they already use project management tools, half of all respondents said they needed a better system.
· Surprisingly, 50 percent don’t bother tracking staff utilization, even though only 30 percent of respondents said they work solely on retainer and 78 percent reported using freelancers.
These issues have moved marketing pros to adopt new technology in hopes of saving time and money. However, problems arise when you choose separate tools for tracking time, invoicing, customer relationships and project management.
Each tool requires training and IT support (more time and money). And, each forces you to retrieve data separately, analyze it separately, and report potential business outcomes separately, because the various systems store information in their respective data silos.
So why is it some marketing leaders don’t seem so troubled?
They know a secret: there is a single technology that can help services organizations. It’s called professional services automation (PSA), and not only can it save time and money, the right platform can offer a competitive advantage.
A Unified Team
With a PSA platform you can manage documents, track deliverables, check resources, plan budgets and collaborate with team members. When connected to real-time insights, senior leaders can examine the exact status of any portion of the business simply by opening the relevant pane in the PSA solution.
For example, pre-populated timesheets of a superior PSA solution can provide 24/7 real-time reporting, with stopwatch capability for tracking and sending notifications for approval to any device. You can also automate flexible billing, chart accounts, examine accounts payable and receivable, and profit and loss.
When a team is unified under an outcome-driven tool, leaders gain full project management capabilities. You can keep abreast of personnel utilization and service status, check availability with a glance, match skills and roles, even receive automated suggestions and updates on opportunities, activities and approvals.
The benefits are quick and impressive. According to SPI Research, professional services organizations (PSOs) integrating PSA, CRM and finance systems experienced:
· 9 percent improvement in projects delivered on time
· 8.4 percent improvement in projects on budget
· 6 percent increase in billable utilization
· 11.7 percent increase in project margin
Insights to Keep You Ahead
Possibly the most futuristic application of PSA tools is using it to increase efficiency for impending activities.
Knowing what’s already happened – thanks to easily-generated reports you can find from any device – grants real-time insight into sales, customer, project and use measurements. With a PSA, you know where you stand at all times and can plan accordingly.
Configurable key performance indicator boards empower with access to vital data that permits you to span the gap between sales and delivery, from first quote to final cash. That means statements of work are more accurate.
Leaders can manage and raise margins more effectively, accurately forecast the work pipeline, and most important to team productivity, know what’s working best. With that knowledge, you can easily duplicate best-practices for other customers.
It’s this insight that enables marketing teams to gain a leg up on competitors.
All this assumes you’ve purchased the right PSA platform. You need to choose wisely and the following tips can help.
First, make sure the PSA platform you select integrates easily with existing tools, business functions and everyone involved with using it. Cloud-based solutions are designed for that and they typically deploy rapidly.
Choose an established vendor to ensure you’re investing in a product that will be supported in perpetuity. The solution should also be proven because underdeveloped technology frustrates users.
Key to success is a user interface that’s intuitive and simple. If it isn’t, adoption will stall. Look for a familiar look and feel. Nothing is worse than investing in new technology, only to realize later its own complexity prevents it from being a viable solution. Your vendor should also provide ongoing training.
Time on Your Side
When your PSA platform is up and running smoothly, you can rely on it to perform a lot of the heavy lifting.
Time-consuming tasks will be greatly reduced, freeing up leaders to tackle more important work. Furthermore, decision-making will be stronger with the most accurate, real-time data available.
The right PSA puts time on your side. In marketing, it’s no secret that time is money, and accomplishing that alone will undoubtedly result in greater profitability.