As recently as three years ago, many of our clients were still using Excel spreadsheets to handle internal processes. So, it got me to thinking: have most of us finally been forced to evolve past the spreadsheet, or are there still diehard spreadsheet users out there?
I got my answer by talking to our friends at TimeLinx Software. TimeLinx is a
project and service management (PSM) solution that automates all the elements
of a services organization. The solutions spans numerous industries ranging from
construction related such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing, to IT , HR and
financial consulting, to medical equipment installations, manufacturing, oil
and gas and many more. If your company performs work in the field, you are (or
should be!) using a solution like TimeLinx to manage it.
TimeLinx told me a story that illustrated the unfortunate
truth: the chaos of the spreadsheet persists.
A major paper equipment manufacturer came to TimeLinx
dealing with fallout from this exact issue. Not just any paper equipment manufacturer,
but a billion-dollar organization with offices globally. That is shocking to
say the least.
This company had over 250 field staff submitting time and
expense, managing work orders and service requests along with parts and
equipment using complex spreadsheets on a weekly basis via email. Their team would
spend hours re-keying that information into various billing and tracking
systems to be invoiced and processed. The process was time consuming, inefficient,
mistake prone, and could take up to 6 weeks to produce invoices.
When TimeLinx did some digging, they found themselves with
the grim task of explaining to their client that there were errors in the
formulas in their spreadsheets. Not only was information being incorrectly
recorded, but the mistakes in the formulas had them underbilling their clients
by tens of thousands of dollars. Incorporating PSM software helped the paper
manufacturer regain control over operations and cut out the labor-intensive
Chaos to Control
There were many benefits to the paper manufacturer adopting
a solution like TimeLinx, but the most significant ways it turned their chaos
to control was:
- Managing time and expenses in real-time
- Managing all customer equipment, installation
details, and project details from one view
- Reducing the time it took them to reimburse
- Having better stats and reporting metrics to
- Improving cash flow, with the ability to invoice
in days instead of weeks
- Eliminating the error-prone process of re-keying
The PSM software provided transparency and control. Field
staff were pleased with the faster processing of their paychecks and how easy
it was to track and enter their time. Managing the remote workforce was easier,
too, as company leaders could easily access data to better understand how their
team was utilizing time and where they could improve efficiencies.
& Service Management Game-Changers
Real-time data access and the automation of manual processes
are two of the biggest game changers of project and service management
software. For service companies in particular though, mobile options are the
star. TimeLinx explained why during our recent conversation:
“Today, service organizations have no other option but to run their operations efficiently and manage their field staff effectively all while delivering exceptional customer experiences. The only way to do so is through the use of mobile technology solutions like TimeLinx PSM ”, said Jeff Gregorec, Executive Vice President and General Manager for TimeLinx.
This type of software (which can often be embedded into the
user’s existing CRM solution), also provides benefits in other areas,
- Revenue optimization
Solutions like TimeLinx provide calculations for the revenue and costs
associated with every project. Billing rates, expense reimbursements, and job fees
are all customizable to a company’s needs.
- Time and expense tracking
Whether field agents are accessing time and expense tracking via a mobile app
or employees around the globe are accessing it from their desktop, a project
and service management solution makes it easy to enter and track that
information using one interface.
- Visual Gantt Charts
Gantt charts are popular in project management because they provide a
visual representation of a project plan over time. They make it easy for
project participants to see the timeline of a project, its current status, and
who is responsible for each task at a glance.
- Resource & Capacity Planning
When a service is quoted, the customer expects those timelines and budgets
to be met. Service teams rely on the planning capabilities of project and
service management tools to keep their work aligned to the desired outcomes.
Every project and service management solution should provide
some basic features for tracking projects and servicing clients. With an
abundance of data to manage, though, options that go beyond those basic needs can
make all the difference.
For example, TimeLinx provides Business Intelligence (BI)
dashboards in its embedded Infor solution. It pulls from and of the popular BI
platforms to display information such as project P&L analysis, service
revenues by type/source/location, revenues and targets, and more.
Accounting features that pass financial data between accounting/ERP systems and the PSM eliminate double data entry (and the mistakes that come from it) and help banish the spreadsheet for good! TimeLinx demonstrates how this type of functionality works on their website.
Industries are Capitalizing on Project & Service Management Software?
Project and service management software is useful in variety of industries for improving project management, increasing efficiency, and streamlining workflows. Some of the industries that use project and service management software the most include:
companies use it to manage building projects, track progress, and allocate
firms use project management software to manage projects and track progress,
including budgeting and resource allocation.
organizations manage patient care, research, and other operational activities
Marketing: Marketing firms
use project and service management software to manage client projects, track
deliverables, and measure results.
HVAC: HVAC use PSM to schedule
and dispatch technicians, track jobs, and handle work order management.
agencies oversee projects related to infrastructure development, public
services, and policy initiatives using project and service management software.
Financial services companies use PSM to manage projects related to financial
product development, compliance, and risk management.
organizations oversee fundraising campaigns, program management, and volunteer
management using a PSM solution.
companies maintain supply chain operations, quality control, and field service
operations with a PSM application.
While the ghost of Excel continues to linger, the adoption
of project and service management software has been growing steadily over the
past few years, driven by the need for businesses to improve their efficiency,
productivity, and customer satisfaction.
As more companies recognize the benefits of using these
software tools, we can expect the adoption rates to continue to increase. Hope
remains to transform chaos into control and move away from inefficient project
and service management.