Managing a Professional Service Organization on the Cloud

August 28, 2014 Appirio

By Andres Gluecksmann

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Managing all the critical data points of a project is TOUGH. Often I think to myself, “Man, this is a high resolution thing we do here!”. By high resolution I mean that to keep on top of the particulars of a project, a good manager needs to understand and maintain hundreds of data points on a weekly basis.

On any one project a manager needs to deal with financial budgets, hours budgets, resource availability, skills alignment, status reporting, hours forecasting, milestone maintenance, and more just to keep the lights on! Multiply that 500+ times (for the 500+ projects we have active at any given time) and you have yourself a partial picture of the daily monumental task that is running a global professional services organization.

Having the right people and processes, supported by the best technology is key to keeping it all working like a well-oiled machine. Enter FinancialForce’s PSA tool. Appirio has been a proud customer of FinancialForce ever since we developed and sold the first version of the application to FinancialForce in 2010. Back then it was called “Professional Services Enterprise (PSE). Since then, FinancialForce has continuously enhanced the tool just like is expected of any great force.com based solution.

FinancialForce PSA is integral to how we at Appirio manage our projects and the latest Summer ‘14 release of PSA has us particularly excited for a number of reasons:

1) Capacity Planning: The new release supports planning based off of unheld Resource Requests related to Opportunities. In other words, an Opportunity and its related records represents the potential need (based on Opportunity Close probability) for people with certain skills. Now PSA can help with planning for that work.  Before, only requests with “soft booked” resources were considered in calculations. Appirio built custom processes to manage this type of planning but now we may be able to go “out of the box” with Summer ‘14 – that’s always a plus!

2) New Planner UI: We’re VERY excited about the general availability of new modern user interface for the various planners included in the PSA. In particular, Project Planner is a screen that our managers spend a lot of time in. If done right, managers will visit the Project Planner page for a project at least weekly to adjust future forecasts across resources which are then aggregated into rolled up reports that drive key business decisions for the company. A fast and easy to navigate interface is key for this important process.

One cool thing we’ve done is enabled a custom link called “Project Planner” which is simply a hyperlink text formula field. This field can then be exposed in the Project tab list view, which lets a user slice and dice the various projects they may be monitoring. In one click they can jump right into the new Project Planner:

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3) Flexibility: Summer ‘14 comes packed with additional Custom Settings and Fields Sets that are useful for customizing the user experience across the application. For example, we can specify a default zoom level of “week” or “months” in the planner by updating a simple field on a custom setting. We can also define what columns we wish the user to have access to on the Planner. The user can then further customize the options to their liking.

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Appirio helps companies implement software that lets them break away from their competition. Managing all our projects and consultants is not an easy task, but is a critical part of our success. FinancialForce PSA helps Appirio continue to grow into a global professional services firm with multiple lines of business.

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