Stop Using Spreadsheets to Manage your Businesses Greatest Asset; Your People

Posted by Scott Grillo, PSA Account Executive, NetSuite

It's a story we hear a lot at NetSuite. A young professional services startup decides to manage its staff's time using spreadsheets. The business grows steadily, and the spreadsheet method proves solid and dependable. That is, until the staff grows and the spreadsheets become increasingly unmanageable and inaccurate, and trouble starts to rear its head.

Maybe a few project schedules slip, and the firm starts missing deadlines. Perhaps people find themselves having to spend more hours tweaking, updating and sharing data. Any way you slice it, it inevitably adds up to lost business opportunities.

Running a complex services business on spreadsheets is like trying to pull a trailer with square wheels. You may get from point A to point B, but it's going to be a very bumpy ride, and a few customers will probably jump off.

Yet so many services firms hold onto their spreadsheet-based processes as if they're protecting a valuable asset, when the truth is that they're preventing their most valuable asset—people—from being that much more valuable. Eventually, their old methods for managing resources must change or they risk losing any competitive advantage their staffs provide.

When relying on spreadsheets, it's simply not possible to keep up with the frequency at which staff resources change projects, project scopes and schedules change, and project managers make demands that specific resources be made available.

Long before they start bumping up against such limitations, professional services firms should be making staffing decisions with accurate, up-to-date resource utilization and skills data, the kind of data that's only possible when a professional services automation (PSA) solution is combined with sound resource management practices.

A PSA system enables staffing teams and project managers to have access to the same real-time data on resource availability, giving everyone up-to-the-minute insight into who is available and who is not.

NetSuite just so happens to offer one of the most powerful cloud-based project management software applications available, OpenAir, which has long been established as a platform for innovative resource management. With OpenAir deployed, our clients have:

  • Increased their resource utilization and profitability by ensuring that the right resources are on the right job at the right time;
  • Improved their financial forecasting, resulting in better insight into key operating metrics; and
  • Improved the accuracy of their demand planning forecasts, allowing management to change hiring plans on the fly.

Meanwhile, some of our most innovative clients have accomplished things for which OpenAir wasn't even designed. For instance, we've had clients use the software to stretch their resource allocation further and further into the future, without sacrificing accuracy. They've also figured out that staffing plans don’t get noticeably better with daily updates, so they've cut back to weekly or even semi-monthly updates, significantly reducing the burden, while still being able to create new bookings and allocations as needed.

A system alone won’t create change and change is difficult; however, OpenAir enables organizations to change by giving them the proper tools to administer change.

Similarly, for those who have a hard time letting go, OpenAir actually allows for project budgeting to be managed in a spreadsheet-like interface, right inside the product. This is a feature designed to help customers transition from their legacy process to a powerful PSA system, and many of them have no idea it exists.

These are the kinds of reasons we decided a series of blog posts was needed to remind people that OpenAir is here for them, that its capabilities are numerous and robust, and that there are resources to help them get the most from an OpenAir deployment. In subsequent posts, we'll take a deeper dive into how jettisoning your spreadsheets will lead to better resource management, as well as some pointers for finding the right resource management process for your organization.

Organizations are ever-evolving and NetSuite is continuously pushing out new features to meet the demand of our customer base, and offers services to for customers to maximize their investment in OpenAir and constantly improve their operational efficiencies.

In the end, by working together, we get a customer who's happier, more devoted, and successful, and our customers get a partner they know has their back.

Stay tuned for the next post coming out next month where I will share how to eliminate the spreadsheet to make better staffing decisions.

Learn More: View this demo for an inside look at how NetSuite OpenAir helps companies such as SAIC, HP and Siemens make the most of their vital resources. Our experts will walk you through key resource management functionality in OpenAir and highlight best practices to help you improve key resource metrics. Watch Today

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