5 Project Management Best Practices for Service Organizations

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large_article_im2222_best_practiceProject management is challenging in any environment. But it’s even more challenging in service organizations.

When you’re involved in professional services, you’re working with limited resources, tight deadlines, and tight schedule commitments.

There’s travel to be considered, vacations, coverage, program development, and a hundred other variables not faced by companies that sell more traditional products.

The Two Functions to Every Successful Professional Services Organization

Every professional services organization has two essential functions:

Sales

Service Delivery

Other teams such as accounting, HR, or marketing exist to support the activities of the sales and service delivery teams.

Unfortunately, in many organizations, it is difficult to sync the activities of the sales team and the service delivery teams.

This results in all sorts of problems, including:

Sales reps who make promises the service delivery team can’t keep

Service delivery professionals who are either constantly over scheduled or sitting around waiting for work

Scheduling headaches for both the sales and service delivery teams

Constant “fire drills” and shifting of priorities

To combat these problems, do all you can to ensure your teams are in sync and working toward a common goal. Here are five specific steps you can take to help your sales and service teams work well together:

1. Let Sales Reps See Your Service Team's Availability

The easiest thing you can do is to provide your sales reps easy visibility to the schedules of your service delivery team. This lets sales reps see exactly what human resources are available at what times.

Most project management and CRM apps do not have the ability to show sales reps the schedules of your service delivery team. They leave your sales reps to give their best “ballpark estimate” when a customer is going to receive a service.

If you’re using Salesforce CRM, however, Krow Software can provide your team with professional service automation tools that provide the data you’ll needs to share this information successfully.

2. Have Service Teams Use Standard Packages Whenever Possible

Projecting the amount of time needed with a client is always a bit of a guessing game. But if you have standard packages to sell, it helps in a variety of ways.

Sales reps can often sell a package easier than something generic such as “10 hours of consulting.”

Your service delivery team will save time in preparation; they’ll already have a standard set of services to deliver for each package.

Managers will have a better idea of how long each engagement will take. That gives them better data for scheduling and sales projections.

Accountants can better project revenue, expenses, and profit, since they’ll have historical data around the finances for each type of project.

3. Track Standard Financial Indicators for Each Project

Not every sale is equal.

Some services are more profitable than others. Ideally, you want your sales reps to focus on selling the service packages with the highest profit.

To do this, keep track of standard financial indicators for each project fulfilled by your service delivery teams.

The two biggest measures to track by project are:

Revenue

Expenses

4. Create Dashboards for the Executive and Management Teams

Dashboards help managers understand a large volume of data at a glance. Make sure they can see stats such as:

Sales

Deals in the pipeline

Revenue

Expenses

Profitability

Labor utilization

Giving managers good data enables them to make good decisions. Plus it gives leaders in both the sales and service delivery organizations a common set of data to work from for day-to-day decisions.

5. Communicate Expectations and Timelines with Customers, Then Deliver What You Promised

Your sales reps’ job to set and manage expectations.

Your service delivery team’s job is to meet those expectations to the best of their ability.

If you’re in a service delivery role, there’s nothing worse than showing up at a client who’s not happy with your company. You become a punching bag for complaints rather than a strategic consultant.

To avoid these problems, make sure you’ve given your sales team the tools it needs to set realistic expectations with customers.

The Payoff

In too many organizations, there is a communication gap between the sales and service delivery teams.

Sales reps are doing everything they can to sign up new business.

Service delivery teams are scrambling with one fire drill after another, trying to keep up with the changing demands created by their sales reps’ efforts. All of this is caused by a lack of communication between these two vital departments.

Getting CRM and project management tools that talk to each other is one of the best ways to help ensure everyone is on the same page.

When your sales reps make promises your service teams can actually deliver (on time and on budget), it’s good for everyone, including the customer.