If you feel a few too many pounds around your girth when you buckle your belt, you might consider seeing a fitness instructor and asking for some advice. Many people are interested to find out which is the best piece of exercise equipment to purchase and keep in their home to help them lose some weight. The most common answer is that the best piece of equipment is ANY piece of equipment. If you are currently doing nothing, then doing something is better than nothing.
It is similar with Professional Services Automation (PSA) software. There are a variety of choices on the market and I am not here to tell you which one to buy but I definitely do recommend using something. Any PSA is better than no PSA.
One fear that I commonly hear from business owners – and technicians – is that a PSA tool only focuses on utilisation rates. Then you become a slave to percentages or graphs for the month. My answer is that if you are scared to find out your utilisation rate, then you should be scared to find out your utilisation rate. The only people concerned about seeing that percentage are those who know the percentage is going to be very poor. I have always said that bad news is better than no news. If you do receive bad news when you examine your utilisation rate, you have a chance to correct the problem. If you never know the answer, how can you possibly correct it? This particular area is the number one fear for technicians. They are scared that their ogre of a boss (all bosses are ogres) will stand over them at the end of the month and lock them in a room until they hit their numbers. While this has some attraction, the reality is that good managers are going to use the numbers to coach their staff into better utilisation rates. If a technician is scared because he spends the majority of his day using online gambling sites and updating his status on Facebook then you will have some real data to work with to change the behaviour.
Internal utilisation rates are one thing but I believe that often too much attention is paid to this aspect. The aspect of a PSA tool that I appreciated the most when we first implemented a PSA tool was the client focus.
When a client contacted our organisation, the details of the work required were immediately entered into our PSA. The client received an e-mail to let him know that he was now on the radar. Once the work was assigned to a technician, the client received another e-mail to let him know someone was working on it and he even had the name of the person on the job. Once the job was completed, one more e-mail went out and, in addition to seeing the notes the technician wrote in relation to the job, a link to a 2 question survey was included in the e-mail. It gave every client a chance to rate our performance on every single job. That immediate feedback when the job is fresh in the client’s mind is invaluable.
In addition to a more focused client experience, it allowed our technical coordinator to have a much better view of her resources. We made the decision many years ago to have a technical coordinator who had no technical qualifications and minimal technical skills. It seemed like such a waste to have a technician sitting in an office assigning work. What we also found was that technicians are incredibly helpful people. If a supposedly easy job came through the coordinator, if they had good technical skills, they just couldn’t help themselves. They would start to do the job. And sometimes those ‘easy’ jobs turn into five hour nightmares. We then moved to a coordinator that had great admin skills but limited technical skills. Their job was just to assign work to our highly skilled technicians. A PSA tool allows that coordinator to have a snapshot view of the entire team and assign work to an appropriate person with the time and skills to complete the job.
I could go on with many other benefits but I want to answer the question that most people ask. Will they actually make more money with a PSA? My simple answer is yes. When you think about more appropriate use of your resources, when you think about better utilisation of your technicians, when you think about better feedback from your clients, when you think about the reporting capabilities you suddenly have at your fingertips to help make recommendations to your clients, when you think about an IT company using tools like the ones you are recommending to your clients every day (drink your own lemonade) then it would seem obvious that you will definitely make more money using a PSA tool.
Tell me if you are using a PSA tool at [email protected].