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 manual tasks.

Turning 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:

  1. Managing time and expenses in real-time
  2. Managing all customer equipment, installation details, and project details from one view
  3. Reducing the time it took them to reimburse expenses
  4. Having better stats and reporting metrics to pull from
  5. Improving cash flow, with the ability to invoice in days instead of weeks
  6. Eliminating the error-prone process of re-keying information

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.  

Project & 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.

An example of mobile screens inside Timelinx

This type of software (which can often be embedded into the user’s existing CRM solution), also provides benefits in other areas, including:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Timelinx gantt chart
Timelinx Gantt chart inside Infor CRM

Bonus Features

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.

Which 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:

Construction: Construction companies use it to manage building projects, track progress, and allocate resources efficiently.

Consulting: Consulting firms use project management software to manage projects and track progress, including budgeting and resource allocation.

Healthcare: Healthcare organizations manage patient care, research, and other operational activities using PSM.

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.

Government: Government agencies oversee projects related to infrastructure development, public services, and policy initiatives using project and service management software.

Financial Services: Financial services companies use PSM to manage projects related to financial product development, compliance, and risk management.

Non-Profit: Non-profit organizations oversee fundraising campaigns, program management, and volunteer management using a PSM solution.

Manufacturing: Manufacturing 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.

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