In project-led professional services, where exactly does business development end so delivery can begin? With Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, this is no longer a question businesses need bother themselves with.
Project services can be split into three distinct phases – winning the contract, planning and implementation. There are very obvious areas of crossover between all three. Project tenders, for example, must realistically anticipate planning in order to produce a viable cost estimate for the client, amongst other things.
Workplace logistics and division of labour often dictate you have different teams working at different stages of this continuum of processes. But this creates challenges to delivering project services as efficiently as possible. One is understanding where and how the roles of different teams and personnel intersect. Another, closely related, concerns management and communication across the whole work stream.
For example, in order to put together competitive yet realistic bids, the sales team needs to have a firm understanding of timings, costs and resource allocation. For this, they rely on the experience of the delivery team. The delivery team needs to appreciate the parameters and objectives set by the planning team in order to complete the project on time, to budget and in line with client expectations. And where exactly do you draw the line between sales pitches and planning as distinct roles?
At each of these intersections between one team or one phase and another, there is the potential for miscommunication, lack of clarity, duplication, waste and a loss of momentum. Rather than complementing one another, the relationships between phases in the cycle have the can act as barriers to one another, reducing overall efficiency and effectiveness. For professional services which rely on smooth, agile operations to remain profitable, this creates risks to the business model.
Breaking out of silos with Project Service Automation
These are precisely the issues that Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation is designed to overcome.
Built around an integrated cloud-based ERP and CRM platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the ultimate modern productivity solution, providing a seamless link between business intelligence and action. Project Service Automation is the iteration aimed at assisting professional project management by integrating all key operations into a single platform shared across teams. Its key functions include:
- Sales and contracts: Combining client data with historical project analytics, these tools help business development teams put together appealing, accurate bespoke pitches. They provide the insight needed for estimating costs, labour, timescales and resources, as well as suggesting key metrics and feasibility for the company.
- Project planning: Providing templates to help sales teams and project managers prepare estimates, these tools also include a visual planning interface and automated task allocation.
- Resource management and scheduling: Includes a searchable database of staff, consultants and contractors which will match project requirements to the skills and interests of your personnel and show their availability.
- Team collaboration: For each project, an Office 365 workspace is created to enable full collaboration between all parties involved.
- Analytics: All project data is collected and processed by a powerful analytics suite which provides real-time and historical reports covering all aspects of project delivery.
The sum effect of these features and more is that silos between different personnel and teams working on different aspects of a project are comprehensively broken down. Everyone shares access to the same data and information, everyone can collaborate as a unified whole. Everyone is able to pull in the same direction from start to finish.
Overall, service is improved as you are better able to deliver what you said you would, thanks to more accurate planning and estimates. Teams work more productively and efficiently through better communication and collaboration. And thanks to the powerful analytics on offer, businesses are always able to respond in agile ways to changing demands, and identify areas to improve and grow their business.
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