Category Archives

Managing Your Firm

  • Jun 14,2019
You’re here because you could manage your time better. We all could. The catch is knowing how to change. Everybody gets to the end of a workday, and wonders where all the time went, but it seems like some people can just get more done in a day. How could you become one of those people? It’s not as hard as you’d think.

Put simply via New York University, time management is making a plan so you can get the important stuff done, consistently. But here’s the catch: you can’t add time to a day, so you’ll have to get more done in a day. That’s the challenge of time management. If you want to do better, you’re going to need a plan, as well as some good tools.

Step One: Add Goals to Your Calendar

If something is important enough to you, then you have to put it on a calendar, no questions asked. That’s the best way to start setting goals for your time. When you don’t have a goal, it’s easy to get lost, and then waste time. So write down some goals that you need to accomplish during this coming week, or in the next month, and be realistic about what you can get done.

“The best way to manage time,” writes occupational-health expert Bill Thomack, “is to set a goal, develop a plan, and measure the outcome. Without goals, it is impossible to set priorities.” In other words, you can’t really know how you’re doing if you don’t have goals to tell you that you’re getting more done.

By the time you get the hang of managing your time with a calendar, you’ll be ready for the next step, which is to share your calendar with your co-workers. That will let everyone at your firm know what you’re working on, when you’re available, and just how productive you are working. Some high-quality project management software will even let you integrate your calendar directly with their resource allocation tools.

Step Two: Schedule for the Way You Work

Everybody at your firm schedules work differently. As you know, some people need to work a schedule where they change tasks every hour, while other employees need lots of unrestricted time to do problem-solving for work. You wouldn’t schedule all of those people exactly the same, would you? The next step is to schedule for how you work.

In his popular essay on the topic, the programmer Paul Graham writes that there are two kinds of schedules. One is the manager’s schedule, which is scheduled hour-by-hour and is spent largely in meetings. The other is the maker’s schedule, which is scheduled in multiple-hour blocks of time, and spend largely creating things without hourly goals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule for both kinds of workers.

You can use a project management tool to do things like defining your work week, setting your submission period, and adding or renaming the columns in your timesheet. When you commit to completing the goals that are important to you, and you make a plan that fits the way you work best, then you’re already on your way to doing better time management.

Step Three: Discover What Makes You Productive

Now that you’re scheduling your high-priority goals, and now that you’ve made a schedule that fits how you actually get work done, the last step is to pay attention to how you accomplish those goals. Do coworkers frequently interrupt your progress? Are there times when you put off your deadlines? When do you usually have spare time, and when are you always swamped?

In other words, what exactly prevented you from getting something done on deadline? If you’re like most workers, the same three or four things always prevent you from doing good time management. So how can you get better? You have to identify the things that make you unproductive, and reorganize your schedule so you can work more productively, or you’ll never be able to change. To do that, you’ll need more some more info.

You can start measuring your productivity in a project management software, where you can get lots of helpful data about how you work on tasks, or about how you spend your time. Do you see any repeated patterns that you think you should change? A helpful software tool even gives you the power to make any necessary changes to your project schedules, using Gantt charts, simply with a click of your mouse.

There will never be enough time to do everything you want to accomplish. However, when you align your working schedule with what’s important to your firm, and when you’re committed day-by-day to always doing what’s most important, you’ll always have control of your time, because you’ll always be working on something important. That’s how to do better time management.

If you’re interested in project management software, please request a free demo of BigTime, and see just how productive your firm could be.

  • Jun 13,2019
Measuring Productivity with a Billable Utilization Rate: Where to Start

How do you even begin to measure your firm’s productivity? What are you supposed to do when you have to know whether your firm is billing at capacity? You can start by measuring your billable utilization rate.

That’s when you compare an employee’s total billable hours to their monthly capacity. For example, in a given month, a worker might have a capacity of 160 hours (or 40 hours per week by 4 weeks in a month) and 120 total billable hours. That employee would have a billable ratio target of 75 (or 120:160) and might work each month to meet that goal, helping your firm to be more productive.

It’s easy to figure out the billable utilization rate for one worker, but when you want to improve productivity for a whole firm, it can get a lot more complicated. That’s why we’ve outlined these four basic steps to help you start using time-tracking information for insight into your firm’s performance.

First, Set Up Your Time Tracking

If you can’t count it, then you can’t measure it. Start by finding the best way for your employees to enter their time, both billable hours and non-billable hours, so you can assign numbers for both their total billable hours and their capacity.

Project managers usually ask employees to enter their time weekly or daily, not only to guarantee consistency in reporting but also to make sure that time entry actually happens regularly. When your team members give you numbers to work with, consistently and correctly, then you can start to get a good picture of their total billable hours.

Be smart about how your firm tracks time, and make it as easy as possible for employees to enter their hours worked, with a time-and-billing software that can figure out the total billable hours for you. Some software even lets employees enter their time through a mobile app, whether they’re in the office, working from home, or even offline.

Second, Ask Employees to Make Notes on Their Time:

If you don’t know how your employees spend their time, then you don’t know much. When you aim to improve your firm’s productivity and to increase the number of hours for which your firm bills, you have to know exactly what workers do with their time.

Start today by asking employees to make very short notes about the time they enter. Adding notes can give you a lot of insight into your firm’s productivity hour-by-hour and day-to-day, and for the little time it takes your employees to enter a note, notes are an important step toward increasing productivity.

In fact, our recent study into billing realization shows that entering a note of only 140 characters can increase billing-realization rates by 4.65%. That means a note as short as a Tweet could increase billing by $35 billion, annually, for middle-sized US professional services firms.

Just a little extra information can add a lot to your ability to measure productivity. A good project management software will let workers enter notes along with their time. When you know how workers spend their time, and when you know how productive they are on average, then you can start watching how productively your firm completes projects.

Third, Look for Opportunities

Once you’ve figured out the billable utilization rates for your firm’s employees, you can use software to begin keeping track of whether each employee works at their utilization rate, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Using software to look at the billing utilization rates will give you the opportunity to find interesting patterns in how your firm’s workers use their time. You can see which employees are regularly invoicing for time, as well as which employees are working at capacity and whether certain employees are doing billable work or doing non-billable work.

After a little while, you’ll start to learn more and more about your firm’s utilization rates, and you will be able to spot irregular patterns in productivity. When you know enough about how your firm works, and how you want it to work differently, you can confidently start making some informed changes.

Finally, Refine the Way Your Firm Works

By the time you have a few weeks of info on your firm’s billable utilization rates, you will be ready to make changes in your firm, using a software tool called resource allocation. When you use resource allocation, you have the power to change how and when your firm uses its two most vital resources, its employees’ time and its money.

That’s how you put the billable utilization rate to work: if you know can put a number to each employee’s productivity, then you can make changes if an employee is not working at capacity, rather than wasting the company’s resources.

Resource allocation can be as simple as using software to shift around the projects and tasks that an employee is working on, or to stay aware of changes in overall utilization rates, or to assign tasks from one worker to another. Some resource allocation tools can even automatically track your ongoing utilization rates, and they’re very easy to use, too.

Any firm that asks its employees to track their time, and to add notes to their time entries, can start measuring its productivity. Once you have reliable software to give you the proper perspective for making decisions, your firm can start working smarter, today.

If you think your firm might benefit from a project management software, please contact us to request a demo of BigTime, and learn how productive your firm could be.

  • Jun 10,2019
For smaller professional service firms, balancing the consulting you’re passionate about with the mandatory business management to run your practice can be difficult. While the client is always the priority, it’s like they say about oxygen masks before take-off, you must help yourself before assisting others.

To keep your practice afloat and running profitably, it’s important to keep a constant pulse on your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and make adjustments to optimize your work and plan for future projects. Often firms without a PSA (professional services automation) software struggle to see their metrics or spend hours compiling data from different places into one spreadsheet to get a general idea of their performance.

With PSA software, project, staff, and financial data live all in one place giving firms the power to access these KPIs in real time. Stronger measurements lead to better management.

Below are the five KPIs every professional services firm should track that can be uncovered easily through automation software.

Project Margin – What projects are turning the highest profit? Review the revenue earned minus the labor costs associated with a project to find out how successful your revenue model is and which projects, in particular, are the strongest.

Tip for Improvement: The projects that turn a low profit, go a step further into the data to find the weak points that need to be tweaked. For example, fewer hours being budgeted than are actually required causing an increase in non-billable time.

Delivery Margin – How profitable is my current business structure? Similar to your project margin, the delivery margin includes the overhead cost in addition to labor cost. This will give you insight into operational and internal expenses that impact your bottom line.

Tip for Improvement: Take advantage of all the automation solutions available in the PSA software to cut down on time and money spent on internal workflows. Streamline project approvals, set up invoice templates and integrate into your accounting software to cut down on manual data entry.

Billable Utilization – Am I using my team and resources efficiently? Track how much time is billable versus bench time, and then adjust for a higher utilization rate. By look at a combination of historical and forecast data, this stat gives you the power to boost profit from efficiency.

Tip for Improvement: Use a staff allocation tool with your PSA software when planning projects to see which staff is available to take on more work and which staff members have too much on their plate and may affect the projects progress. This will ensure you’re making the best use of all team members time and decrease the amount of time staff spend on the bench.

WIP (Work in Progress) Status – Are my engagements within budget? Instead of only measuring project performance at the end, project managers can play a role by staying on top of current projects with real-time analytics to make sure budgets are on track and deadlines are met.

Tip for Improvement: When a project starts to go off course and you’re able to alert your clients as it’s happening rather than a surprise on their invoice, there may be the opportunity to budget in more hours for the project or use the resource allocation tools again to get all staff hands on deck to make sure another deadline isn’t missed.

After you have your dashboards set up for tracking the KPIs that are valuable to you, reports can be pulled in minutes to share all 5 of these KPIs easily with your leadership team. You can also create custom user rights for staff to view analytics that is valuable to their success without sharing full business performance metrics.

To learn more about BigTime’s PSA solution and reporting capabilities and dashboards, request a free customized demo here.

  • Jun 05,2019
This is How It Always Goes

It’s 3:00 pm on a Friday when your most important client calls with an urgent request that your firm must absolutely complete by morning. It won’t be easy. You spend over an hour figuring out who is available to work, since your system is disorganized and out of date, but you still can’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly. There’s just too much you cannot see.

And you can’t be expected to predict the future, right? You can’t expect to know exactly how much extra to bill the client for last-minute work, or precisely how many extra hours to request from your client to complete a project, or whether your best worker is available for the next six months.

In fact, you can easily know all of those things, and it’s easy to do. That’s where resource allocation helps you.

What Resource Allocation Does

Resource allocation is when you look at the resources, staff and time, you have, and you plan your project based on when your resources are available. It’s simple. If you know exactly what you have today, you can make reliable plans for tomorrow, or for weeks to come.

That’s why so many people use resource allocation tools to make their jobs easier. No matter the size of the firm, a lot of project managers depend on resource allocation software to quickly and easily answer questions like:

  • Who is available, right now, to take on some work for a project?
  • Does a project need additional staffers to meet your client’s deadline?
  • Have you exceeded the budget?
  • Does it look like you’ll exceed the budget before the deadline arrives?
  • How many staff hours must you allocate in order to complete a project on time?

  • How You Benefit from Resource Allocation Software

    When you relieve the stress of doing every detail of project planning, and you let the software do the resource allocation for you, then your entire firm can instead focus on hard work. No more over-complicated spreadsheets, no more educated guesses and no more doubting yourself. Know your business.

    When your firm starts using resource allocation software to manage its projects, you’ll start to notice changes around the office:

  • Project Managers will be more organized and better prepared to respond to unexpected changes because they’ll be able to see every detail of each project. No more scrambling to find out who’s available. No more living in the dark. No more simple mistakes.

  • Consultants will be more engaged with their work when they know you can easily see who is available to work, as well as how much time and money is being spent on a project, and what each worker is contributing.

  • Clients will see an indirect payoff in all the work you’re doing behind the scenes by a higher chance of deadlines being met, and the power to answer their status questions in real-time with accuracy.

  • When You Should Do Resource Allocation

    It’s not enough to know what resource allocation is. To be successful, a project manager must also know when to use a resource allocation tool, and when to depend on a different management strategy. Here are some situations when using resource allocation software for project management makes a lot of sense:

  • Communicating with Your Client: A client calls you to make major changes to an existing project. However, your client might not fully understand the consequences of making those changes. When you check in with your resource allocation software, you notice the client will exceed her budget by 50 billable hours. Working together, the two of you are able to find a more reasonable resolution that won’t exceed his/her company’s budget.

  • Avoid Invoice Surprises: Your high-profile client’s project is going smooth until you notice that you’ve budgeted 300 hours for a six-month project, and after the first month, your staff has already worked 200 hours. Be proactive and inform your client of your status and ask for more hours, instead of submitting an invoice for 600 hours at the end of the project.

  • Organizing Your Staff: Your star designer has an emergency two days before a huge project is due. To make it up to your client, and to bring the project to completion, you need to find out what other designers are available to take on 12 hours of work. Not only does a resource allocation tool show you who’s available at a moment’s notice, but it also lets you rearrange all of your firm’s project schedules, even if they run concurrently. That way, while you’re busy saving the day, you can be as cost-efficient as possible.

  • Those are all great times to depend on your resource allocation software, which helps you do the best project management you can, no matter the challenge.

    If you think that a resource allocation tool could help you and your firm, please contact us to request a demo of BigTime, our top-rated project management software.

    • Jun 03,2019
    If you want to do better project management, you have to keep a close eye on your projects’ deadlines and budgets, each and every day. That’s not easy to do. The best way to avoid any mistakes is to start using resource allocation to guarantee that your firm has the time and the staff to meet every project’s deadline.

    What’s more, resource allocation can save you time and money by keeping your firm’s projects on schedule and within budget. Here are five common problems that businesses can overcome by using software to assist in resource allocation.

    1. Planning and Prioritizing Projects Remember that you’re in full control. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re in charge of planning your firm’s projects: there’s a lot of time and money riding on your ability to make accurate plans, and see those plans through to completion. At any point, you could make a mistake in scheduling or budgeting, and ruin the whole project.

    When your project planning includes a resource allocation software, you can schedule every step of a project to see when your project will be complete, and you can see how any scheduling changes could affect your deadline. You can even assign a project’s different tasks to different employees, monitoring the project’s progress, and making necessary changes along the way.

    In this image, you can see that when Ben Herrol was added to the project Website Updates: Task 1, BigTime’s resource allocation feature responded with Allocated: 61 to show that you’ve allocated too many hours to this project. That’s why resource allocation is valuable. You don’t want to go over budget, or off schedule, do you?

    2. Understanding Capacity It’s hard to know who in your firm is available to work on a project. That’s why one of the secrets to good project planning is capacity, which is how many hours a given employee is available to work during a month, on average.

    Resource allocation can help you make decisions based on what is most important to your firm. When you view a project by staff member, you have the power to make vital capacity-related choices for staffing projects, and to make informed decisions for the future of your project.

    In this image, you can see that Jason should work 40 hours per week (see Jason Alexander, 40.00 Hrs.), that he’s been scheduled for 28 hours during the week of December 3rd (see Totals), and that he has been given 113 hours to work the chosen period (see Allocated). Knowing that Jason hasn’t yet met his capacity, you could allocate him another 27 hours, without worrying if he’s over time. That’s really easy, isn’t it?

    3. Thinking Long-Term A huge part of resource allocation is thinking ahead to where your project and your staff will be in weeks, months, or even years. Succeeding at project management means being able to guarantee that all your projects will be under budget, and will meet every deadline, so you need a smart way to make reliable decisions about how your projects will happen.

    There are a lot of software tools available for project management, so you have to be careful. A good project management tool will prevent you from:

  • Over-allocating tasks to your project staff. Any useful software lets you know your current capacity and future capacity for any project.
  • Becoming under-staffed. A helpful tool will inform you’re understaffed, so you can make hiring decisions at just the right time.
  • Getting swamped at busy times. Every good project management software lets you restructure your project’s staffing, at any time, and shows you the results.
  • Being caught off guard when your project’s deadlines or funding change. A smart tool for project management will allow you to make changes as the situation of your project evolves.
  • Running into conflicts with other projects. Any worthwhile software will let you see all of your projects, at the same time, so you can see all of the projects your firm is working to complete.

  • That’s why, in BigTime, you can check the status of any project, or staff member, or task. As the image below shows, all you have to do is to use the navigation arrows to scroll forward or backward in time.

    4. Rolling with the Punches Nothing ever goes as you’ve planned, and when you’re managing projects, you have to be prepared to change your project planning at a moment’s notice. If at any time you need to modify a project’s staffing, timeline, budget, or scope, then a project management tool will help your firm to easily adapt to change.

    Any high-quality project management software uses dependencies to do resource allocation, which is a way of managing projects where a staffer must complete a certain task before a staffer can begin another task, to avoid wasting money and time. For example, resource allocation in BigTime has a tool called Shift Allocations that lets you move around your resources without re-entering anything, at all. Just move your resources where you need them to be.

    Once everything is in the right place, you can re-assign your staff and their tasks, and keep your project moving. In the image below, you can see what BigTime looks like when you re-assign how your project resources are allocated.

    5. Staying Informed You are the person with your finger on the pulse of every project, so you need to be able to see the progress and status of every employee’s tasks, immediately and easily. A useful project management software will update you on your firm’s projects, in real time, using elegant and informative graphics. Look at all the information you get from a quick glance at software like BigTime:

    In seconds, you can answer questions like:

  • Have I assigned all hours to all available staff members?
  • Which staff member is logging the most hours on a particular project?
  • Is a project on budget, right this second, and will it be on budget next month?
  • What staffing changes would you need to make in order to get back on budget?
  • Who has hours available, tomorrow, to work on a last-minute project?

  • If you need to make a big decision based on the best information you can find, a project management software will create reports using your resource allocation data, showing you everything you need to make smart choices.

    You can even run reports based on resource allocation to do revenue forecasting. Whether you’re forecasting by project, or across staffers, you can learn which months you’ll be cash-flow positive, or which staff members will most likely to make the most revenue during the next quarter. Any top-tier Project management software gives you two ways to predict your firm’s revenue:

  • Hourly Revenue Projection (as rate * budget): do revenue forecasting based on an employee’s hourly rate.
  • Fixed-Fee Revenue Projection (as % of overall budget): forecast revenue using a fixed amount that you set for a client.

  • For example, here is what revenue forecasting looks like in BigTime’s resource allocation tool:

    When you look at everything you have to do to be good at project management, it can feel a little overwhelming, but there are a lot of excellent tools to help you do your best. Even when you’re at the top of your game, a top-rated project management software like BigTime gives you every tool you need for resource allocation, whenever and wherever your firm’s projects demand.

    See what project management software looks like by requesting a demo of BigTime.

    prioritizing tech spend bigtime

    • May 30,2019
    Spending money to make money is a fine line for any company to walk. Add in the stress of a growing business where investments can feel like they’ll make or break your success and it can be like walking a tightrope.

    For smaller firms in fast-growth years, investing in new technology is not an easy choice but necessary to reach their full potential. Professional services firms see an average of 11% increase year-over-year, and according to Spiceworks’ State of IT Report, 57% of smaller companies surveyed cited their reason for purchasing new technology to business growth.

    Certain aspects of businesses could always benefit from the latest technology/software, but there may be cost-effective alternatives to get the job done in a relatively efficient manner. Other processes are more prone to struggling to keep up with growth due to an increase in manual roadblocks.

    According to Capterra, “SMBs are allocating budget to four business technologies: finance and accounting, cloud computing, data security, and digital marketing.”

    Of the surveyed respondents, 54% believe software that assists with the financial aspect of their business is their top priority, followed by 40% choosing project management solutions. Capterra’s report also sites that poor accounting practices that cause cash flow problems are the primary reason small businesses’ fail.

    Following this status quo of prioritizing financial tools, after purchasing a strong accounting software like Quickbooks, investing in a PSA (Professional Services Automation) solution will add an extra layer of security to your business strategy. PSA software improves the efficiency of internal workflows and increases accuracy in the data pushed to your accounting software for quick ROI. Many PSA tools also come with key project management features to keep teams accountable for project deadlines, budgets and use of time.

    Much like building a house, once a strong foundation is in place with an accounting and PSA software to ensure your business is prepared for any storm, other “finishings” can be prioritized to create the strongest tech stack for your firm.

    Here are our three quick tips for prioritizing your tech spend after the basics:

    Think long term – When evaluating software, it’s important to look for a tool that will grow well with your company. Purchasing something up front that offers more sophisticated solutions in the hopes of one day needing all of them may end up dragging you down from ever getting there, with too many clunky features and a high price point. Look for software that offers different package levels that are appropriate for what features/spend fit your firm today and where they can grow into tomorrow. Additionally, resorting to quick band-aids or solutions that fit only one project/problem are probably not worth your money in the beginning.

    Listen to your employees – Some pain points are obvious at every level of the company, but others might be hidden behind the hard manual work of your employees/coworkers. Just because certain work is getting done by the deadline, doesn’t always mean it’s the smartest way to do it. Investing in a technology that streamlines those processes to eliminate the hours of manual work will open up time for other projects and opportunities.

    Take your time searching – Time is valuable, but making a decision too soon without thoroughly evaluating your options can lead to problems. For most software, the primary investment is made up front when paying for support or training hours in addition to your subscription or service. Save yourself the headache of flip-flopping to a different software after the initial spend by receiving demos for the whole team and asking about free trial options to ensure its the right fit.

    To learn more about how BigTime’s PSA solution can reduce your firms growing pains for tracking, managing and invoicing time and expenses, request your personalized demo here.

    • May 16,2019
    Going off budget happens. Roadblocks come up and can throw a whole project off course. Since most things don’t go perfectly according to plan, you an account for this by slightly padding your budgets.

    What you do want to avoid, and what is in your staff’s control, is messy time tracking that leads to budgets going array due to lack of insight. In this blog post, we’ll outline five key tips to improve your firm’s time-tracking process that will tighten up your budget estimates, leading to more profitable projects.

  • Keep it Accessible – Keeping track of how much time you spend on a task is tedious enough, so the entry process should be as painless as possible. Finding a solution that has a mobile app and a simple interface so you can automate repetitive tasks, will make it easier for your team to enter their time more regularly. Frequently entering time is key for accurate data that will keep you on top of your budget. Waiting until the end of the week or month to catch up on time entry will always lead to more errors.

  • Use a Uniform System – It’s best to get everyone at the company on board the same time-tracking software or system. Individual processes and manual data entry is not only hard to manage and gather fast insights from, but it can also cause varying levels of specificity, making it difficult to evaluate each project and budget the same.

  • Run Utilization Reports – Use the time-entry data to get a big-picture view of your staff capacity, and see if project tasks can be better dispersed to avoid hindering budgets and deadlines. PSA software can automate this reporting data, so you’ll spend less time in staff traffic meetings.

  • Don’t Forget Non-Billable Hours – Just because it won’t appear on a client invoice, doesn’t mean this time is not valuable. Ask your staff to track their non-billable time separately with notes, so you can evaluate if the time spent on non-billable tasks are pushing things off course, or if maybe the billable hours budget needs to be expanded.

  • Work the Data – Use the metrics gathered from the tracked time to build and correct future budgets, and to create a forecasting model. Remember to continuously update your budgets as things in your firm change, like new staff, or growth in engagement.

  • To learn more about BigTime’s time tracking solution and other automated features, contact our team today for a personalized demo of our software.

    • May 07,2019
    For small-to-medium sized businesses, it’s common for the leadership staff to not only manage the business but also still be executors heavily involved in day-to-day client projects. This leaves little time for managing the overhead of the business and adds stress to the pressures of running a successful company. Most likely, you’re also then the person tasked with finding a solution, but where to start?

    PSA (Professional Services Automation) and PM (Project Management) software are often confused because at their core they offer the same key values of getting your business more organized and increasing productivity. Where they differ is in the way they get this done and the resulting benefits.

    In this blog post, we break down the difference between the two software, and how to evaluate your existing needs to see which solution is the best fit for your SMB.

    What is PM Software?

    Project Management software helps your individual employees work smarter. Primary features include project task management to set deadlines and to assign team members responsibilities, as well as file sharing, and communications tools.

    As a result of improved internal project workflows, you can expect to meet deadlines more efficiently and increase your clients’ happiness with your work. This, in turn, may lead to higher profits if your team is more productive and producing better client relationships.

    Any company can be a fit for the PM tool, regardless of industry, target market or project types, since the technology is built with employees in mind, rather than servicing a client. Because of this, most software has a one-size-fits-all model that your company will then have to tweak and customize to your exact use case.

    What is PSA Software?

    Professional Services Automation software helps build a smarter business strategy. Going a step further than just tracking the success of a project, PSA software is built to ultimately track and manage the success of your business.

    Features include some of the PM basics like project/task management and resource allocations, layered with time/expense tracking, budgeting, and invoicing. Custom reporting can then be built off of the data captured within the tool to measure the KPIs that are important for evaluating the success and growth of your business. Examples of this include: if your budgets are on track, where to allocate your team, what projects are turning the highest profit, and what gaps need to be filled to avoid a low revenue period.

    If used every step of the way, PSA tools will benefit not only your employees’ internal workflow struggles, and give you company insights, but also improve your client relationships. Invoices will be more likely to be generated on time, with accuracy, and in a customized format.

    Designed with professional services firms in mind, PSA tools are best suited for firms that are looking for an all-in-one solution from time tracking to invoicing. Companies that need only part of the feature set, like clock in-and-out time tracking or just project management, are better suited for a more simplified product.

    The benefit is, if you are a professional services firm that meets the needs set for a PSA tool, the product will already be tailored to your use case with minimal time spent customizing.

    To learn more about BigTime Softwares PSA solution, and to see if it’s the right fit for your firm, contact our team today.

    Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

    • May 02,2019
    Time and expense tracking are one of the most fundamental ingredients for a successful professional services firm. However, as companies go through growth spurts, the process for tracking time to billing clients gets tweaked so many times, that before you know it your prosperous business is being weighed down by a clunky internal process that costs too much precious time and money. If this sounds like the boat you’ve been drowning in for years, or are just on the verge of setting sail, have no fear. The good news is that there are plenty of time and billing apps in the sea to accommodate your business needs. The trick is finding the one built with your industry and needs in mind. As you begin your search for the solution that’s right for your firm, we suggest keeping your eyes peeled for the following five benefits. These key features will distinguish the different solutions available to highlight the one solution that meets all your business needs, beyond the basics of time and expense entry.
    1. Streamlined Workflows – Your new software solution may not perfectly match every manual step you have in place, from capturing time entry to generating an invoice, but the right one should still alleviate your pain-points through automation. Look for things like approval process structures, project tasks, and client invoice templates that can be set up once and then run automatically for the lifecycle of all your engagements.
    2. Integrations – One of the best parts of adopting new cloud-based software is how it can integrate into your current tech-ecosystem to eliminate double data entry elsewhere. Sophisticated time and billing tools come with built-in integrations for accounting, customer relationship management (CRMs like Salesforce), and other project management tools to easily talk back-and-forth between the tools without intervention.
    3. Custom Invoicing – Invoices are a key part of how your clients view your business relationship. When evaluating your options, ask to see the different ways to customize your invoices to not only fit your brand, but also the needs of your clients. Your growing business should not have the same Quickbooks-generated invoice as every other small company, it should have something that stands out.
    4. Reporting Insights – This part of the software evaluation is where you need to think the bigger picture to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. With the proper solution, time and expense tracking data can tell you much more than just how much to bill the client. Sophisticated PSA software will shed light on KPIs to give you insights for strategies to propel your business forward. For example: Am I using my team and resources efficiently? Are we meeting or exceeding our budgets? What part of the project is pushing us off track?
    5. Usability – The final part of your evaluation process should be looking at how long it will take you to get off the ground and running. Easy adoption is key when searching for a solution that is supposed to save you time and money. A common mistake by many is purchasing a tool loaded with features that you’ll ultimately never use, leaving you with software that’s too complex. Lastly, look into the support options available for set up and ongoing training for new employees.
    For a free consultation on your time and billing needs, or to speak to a member of our team about BIgTime’s solution, please email us at [email protected]. Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash.

    • Feb 14,2019
    Employers will need about 90 million people in project management-type positions by 2027, a 2017 Project Management Institute report found. That’s almost 22 million new jobs. Alongside the anticipated job openings, there’s a lot to like about project management. Many find the work gratifying: seeing a project through completion and helping staffers achieve team and individual goals. The pay isn’t bad either. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management occupations in May 2017 had a median annual wage of $102,590. But before you jump to this new career path, take a minute to think about this question: is project management right for you? The points below can help you make that decision.

    Being Detail-Oriented and Seeing the Big Picture

    You need a dual skillset as a project manager: the ability, and patience, to dig deep on certain details, such as project budgets that have gone astray and staffer performance metrics; and the ability to step back and see how these details fit into the bigger picture. You’ll constantly toggle between these two modes. You’ll certainly use these skills when planning projects. On the one hand, you’ll need to think through the fine details, such as staffer capacity and allocated hours and budgets, when you’re about to kick off a new project. On the other, you’ll have to think big picture and plan for several quarters in advance. Anticipate the amount of work you can take on and staffers who you may need to hire. Naturally, a project you planned in March will change

    Staying Organized

    You’re managing budgets and staffers, hitting deadlines, keeping clients informed, and analyzing reports for multiple projects. Plus, you’re working with a variety of staffers and their idiosyncrasies. In short, as a project manager, you’re juggling many moving parts each day for multiple projects. Needless to say, staying organized is critical.

    Being a Lifelong Learner

    Don’t get too comfortable with your current skill set. It’s no surprise that technology is taking the workplace by storm, underscored by the uptake of artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Understanding technical topics can help you better use and understand the tools and data at your disposal. At the same time, you may find yourself partnering more with people who already have a technical background, such as data analysts, who can help as you navigate your projects.

    Communicating well with others

    Part of your role as a project manager will involve working with others, whether that’s sharing the project plan with your team or explaining to your client why you’re over budget. Your means of communication may vary, from chat-based apps to in-person meetings. Regardless of the means, communicating clearly and proactively—that is, addressing issues before they become big problems—will go along way in your career as a project manager.

    Thinking subjectively

    Project management isn’t just about numbers and deadlines. Equally important is thinking subjectively. For example, consider team dynamics when devising your team of staffers to complete a project. Just because Joe and Bob have the capacity to take on more work, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be on the same project if they don’t work well together. You’ll save yourself stress and time by thinking through some subjective measures. Ultimately, for any job to be rewarding you ought to enjoy the day-to-day. Hopefully, the points above give you some context about what it means to be a project manager and what you can expect.