Salesforce sustains multi-million dollar professional services business with FinancialForce PSA


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As one of the most highly valued and pioneering cloud computing companies with over 100,000 customers worldwide, the fact that our customer Salesforce was an early adopter of Professional Services Automation (PSA) may not be surprising. In fact, they were using the product before it was even called “PSA,” when Marc Benioff wasn’t a household name, clouds were white, fluffy things in the sky and the UK was still part of the EU.

How things have changed.

Through the company’s growth over the last 6 years, PSA has remained a strong choice to manage and facilitate the inevitable growth of the professional services arm of Salesforce.

“As we continue to grow, we just assume PSA will grow with us” Mark Conklin, Director of Services, Systems and Tools at Salesforce told me. “PSA allows us good support for enhancements, flexibility for customizations, and we’re never concerned that PSA won’t grow with Salesforce. In fact, we can no longer see where Salesforce ends and FinancialForce begins.”

A New Challenge

In June 2013, an acquisition brought new challenges of bringing two teams into a single system. Mark Conklin, who heads up the Services Operations side of the business, spoke to me about coming out the other side of that acquisition and the new insights that PSA has given the business, which is now helping to sustain Salesforce as of today.

During our interview, we had to laugh, because Mark became self conscious when every answer included the same two words – efficiency and visibility. Of course the advantages do boil down to those two things. FinancialForce PSA is a tool that along with Salesforce itself, allows everyone within a business connected with projects and customers, to see exactly what is going on with those projects and customers. That visibility creates better efficiencies. During our conversation, it became apparent that the benefits of this cannot be over emphasized.

Key Metrics Defined

Let’s dig into some of the key metrics that Salesforce is reporting as a direct result of using FinancialForce PSA, and see the impact that those things are having on the business as a whole.

Visibility – see there, we said it again – into utilization metrics and project margins are bringing a renewed focus at Salesforce on making projects successful and profitable.

Standard utilization has been pushed up as a direct result of being able to see when resources are sitting idle, and being able to proactively move those resources to where they are needed.

Utilization calculations can now be generated in 2 days, reduced from 2 weeks. The ability to bucket time into categories, a critical business metric they didn’t have before, allows them to address issues and anomalies where time isn’t being billed.

“We have definitely seen a correlation between visibility into project margins and an increase in project margins. There is now a company-wide understanding of margins and the importance of aligning bid margin with delivery margin. We no longer just deliver the project, we deliver it successfully.”

Powerful New Insights

The business now has new insights it didn’t have before. Real time project status is visible to all, from management down, through a color-coded dashboard. Visibility into resources and utilization across the organization means Salesforce can see a difference between what they are billing on projects and capacity, and they are taking on more projects as a result.

And now for the efficiency piece. Salesforce is able to take on more solution based projects and less admin type projects, now that the PSA tool is doing the transactional work for them. With one team and one set of processes, communication is enhanced and employees are self-sufficient. The result of that? Proactive course correction for projects heading off track and projects delivered on time and on budget.

Saving Time = Saving Money

The other way that PSA is helping sustain the Salesforce organization is through time savings. For example, the Resource Planner functionality in PSA has allowed Salesforce to consolidate their team, saving hours per week. They are creating double the amount of projects each day, and expenses, which are pushed from Concur into projects, can now be billed with time and materials together from PSA.

Global Project Pulse at Everyone’s Fingertips

One of the great things to come out of these time savings is that it has freed Services Operations up to work on other areas. Project Pulse was created to combine non project information with project information for wider company visibility, for example, anyone in the organization can pull a project burn report in seconds.

It has also allowed Services Operations to think about how they can incorporate things like customer satisfaction into projects.

So the impact of using the PSA tool goes far beyond the Services team. For the first time, executives at Salesforce are able to see project information split by region, practice and group, giving them an overall pulse of global projects. This is allowing them to run the entire business more efficiently.

“We’re no longer spending all our time keeping the lights on. PSA has allowed us to focus on finding new ways to enhance the business and is Ingrained in what we do. We couldn’t have consolidated our two teams into one without the support we received from FinancialForce.” 

Stay tuned for the full Salesforce case study later this week!

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