Project based Companies Aren’t as Rare as You May Think.
We typically think of project based businesses as professional services companies or specialty contractors where revenue is tied to efforts with a clear beginning and end. Do the work, charge for related services. Simple? Not really.
The fact is that project-based businesses are found in just about every sector, from services companies to manufacturers, distributors, oil and gas, construction, transportation, hospitality, finance and even government. Larger companies almost always have mixed-mode processes where projects only account for a portion of revenue, but their need to adequately track, report and analyze financial results by project are key to success.
Project based ERP software comes in many flavors, but none with the Azure cloud platform, flexibility and modern analytics potential of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
A Modern Approach to Transforming the “Quote to Cash” Cycle
Project based businesses often structure operations around the Quote to Cash cycle, which incorporates everything from sales and marketing efforts to land new projects, through project delivery and revenue recognition. For most companies, each step in the quote to cash cycle is managed independently, which results in inefficiencies and duplication of efforts throughout the sales and delivery cycle.
Explore this page to learn more about the Quote to Cash cycle, including best practices and software strategies for growing and enterprise companies that depend on profitable project delivery. We’ll show you how companies are transforming with connected cloud to create a digital experience that enables teams to close a higher percentage of deals, increase customer satisfaction, outpace competitors and maximize profitability.
On Demand Webinars for Project Based ERP Software
If you prefer to watch and listen, click on the thumbnails below to view recorded webinars where experts from Velosio and our partners provide expert advice and project based erp software demonstrations designed to help your company streamline the Quote to Cash cycle.
Quote to Cash Quick Notes
The Client Experience Begins Here
Building a customer quote is where initial expectations are set and negotiations begin. Sales staff, engineers and other subject matter experts use combined knowledge of the marketplace and the customer’s needs to build a mutually beneficial agreement. Project based companies with complex engagements or custom product builds require project based ERP software capable of detailed scoping to accurately estimate costs and build a solid work breakdown structure.
Eliminate manual pricing and ad-hoc quote generation to provide more consistency and reduce human errors in calculations. Integrated quoting helps to ensure sales and pre-sales teams are using the latest pricing variables and policies.
Integrated quoting allows for automation of approval routing and provides an opportunity for leadership teams to incorporate strategic products or services before a quote goes out.
CRM adoption and forecasting improve dramatically when quoting, estimating and other must-do selling activities are driven through the system. Companies that ask for “after the fact” capture of important milestones are typically unable to police such activity and deal with inaccurate reporting.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 with AXIO delivers a comprehensive project based ERP software and integrated sales, marketing, customer and project automation components make it extremely powerful in the bidding and pursuit process. Comprehensive quoting can be accomplished at various levels of complexity according to a specific company’s needs.
Contract Set-up and Lifecycle Management
Each contract has a distinct life cycle, from initial creation through delivery and expiration. Often, especially when dealing with recurring revenue or project contracts, the terms are more fluid than one might expect.
Clients often renegotiate or add to existing projects throughout the cycle so leading project and services companies need to ensure their accounting, sales, delivery and management teams are able to accommodate them appropriately.
Contracts generated inside a proper business system can be adapted easily and drive faster sales and negotiations, whereas prolonged contract negotiations can result in unexpected costs or failure to finalize.
Inability to monitor contract performance can result in missed performance milestones and risk contract breach (resulting in penalties or poor client experience).
Failure to follow through on contract updates in project accounting, subscription billing, commissions or resource allocation can be avoided when systems are integrated and share common data sets.
Our Contract and Revenue Management Module effectively manages the contract lifecycle within Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition. This module tracks a contract from the time of negotiation to acceptance, works-in-process, and then retirement – greatly simplifying the complex nature of revenue recognition.
- Comprehensive Contract Renewals
- Automated Contract Realignment
- Contract Re-Parenting
The Right Tools Enable More Profitable Projects
The ultimate goal of any project is to manage resources as efficiently as possible to meet established goals, provide the best possible client experience and do so profitably.
An integrated project management and accounting systems increases the likelihood of delivering on-time and on-budget by following and recording each element of the project as it evolves.
Project-driven companies rely on individuals, systems and suppliers to deliver successfully and profitably. Doing so requires a clear “definition of success” and a proven methodology for project planning and execution.
The larger the scale, the more important it is to develop and maintain integrated technology solutions that reduce the complexity associated with managing large teams with broad/deep skill sets, acquiring and scheduling the right resources and controlling costs. They do the heavy lifting when it comes to collaboration and communication between stakeholders which reduces mistakes and improves the client experience.
AXIO for Professional Services builds on the automation capabilities of Microsoft Lifecyle Services to reduce Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Project Based ERP Total Cost of Ownership by 50% or more by virtually eliminating custom code in all industry functionality and the resulting manual processes that inflate the cost and complexity of implementation and feature updates.
Nearly 20% of Failed Projects Result from Poor Billing Practices
Project based firms are notoriously prone to inaccurate billing. What’s more, it is almost never done purposefully. Mistakes arise from any number of things like service professionals that do a poor job of capturing their time, dysfunctional review and approval processes, lack of rate clarity, mid-term contract updates or even supplier price changes. Unfortunately, billing may be the only interaction some stakeholders have with a vendor during a project.
Advanced Billing Management, which incorporates a variety of user-friendly project planning, time capture, contracts management and workflow tools establishes a solid foundation for each project your team is about to initiate within a project based ERP system like Dynamics 365. Configured properly, you will provide project managers complete oversight into the customer billing process without limiting input and best practices from delivery, production, accounting or other members of the team.
Fully automated systems are capable of generating dynamic customer portals that create transparency into billing detail and foster a stronger sense of trust from clients.
With Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, businesses are able to set up complex billing rules and allocations to manage split funding scenarios and configure various billing frequencies (monthly, quarterly, etc…) and billing cycles such as up-front or in-arrears.
Revenue Recognition, Performance Milestones and Client Satisfaction
Revenue is the the total amount of income a company generates and clearly one of the most critical metrics that a business or project manager monitors. Project managers will almost always have KPIs tied to revenue goals, so the ability to track revenue in real-time is a must.
To allocate an appropriate amount of consideration to each performance obligation, an entity must determine the stand-alone price at the outset for the goods or services. As stand-alone selling prices can be calculated or estimated in numerous ways that may require significant judgment, revenue recognition may be accelerated under ASC 606, particularly when compared to previous allocation methods.
Subscription-based projects are becoming more prevalent every day in the High Tech Services sector so automated revenue recognition functionality on fixed price and subscription based project is extremely important, as the automatic reversal of accruals upon invoicing.
As part of Velosio’s commitment to providing project based ERP software and services to help professional services firms meet their organizational goals, we’ve extended Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition with broad and deep functionality built specifically to address the needs of project based companies.
Our Contract and Revenue Management Module effectively manages the contract lifecycle within Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition. This module tracks a contract from the time of negotiation to acceptance, works-in-process, and then retirement – greatly simplifying the complex nature of revenue recognition
Tactical changes that will optimize projects and minimize non-billable time:
We’ve seen how disconnected business systems result in wasted time, weakened performance, inaccurate data, and considerable costs. Connecting project based ERP software and systems across people, processes, and technology allows you to focus on improving how your organization does business. You’ll want to implement more effective processes across sales, marketing, project management, and financial management that will increase revenues and drive down costs. The goal is to increase actual hours billed, measured through realization rate.
Market and sell to target customers
The goal here is to focus on getting clients and projects that fit the skills and expertise of your resources. This will improve effectiveness of sales and marketing and create a better fit between project portfolios and your resources, leading to less non-billable time and less need for rework.
Improve project estimation
Market trends and customer demands are driving more “fixed-cost” projects, which force your firm or business to eat the cost of any additional hours. By improving project estimation, you can reduce that amount of non-billable work.
Have the right resources on the right projects
With improved insight and forecasting, you can do a better job of managing your resources.
Manage ‘over-servicing’ customers
More appropriate selling, improved project estimation, and better resource management will lead to fewer project exceptions to manage and less need to make accommodations to clients that lose money for your business.
Improve billing accuracy
Coordination between project and financial management, along with better timekeeping, will result in more accurate billing.
“Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Professional Services Firms –A New Way of Understanding What It Is – And What It Can Do”
Length: 11 Pages, Published September 2019
A seasoned member of the Velosio team likes to compare the world of professional services (proserv) firms to the hotel business. It’s not as big a stretch as it might at first appear. “If you don’t book those rooms today,” the team member continues, “the opportunity is gone forever.”
Project-based firms face a similar challenge. But their inventory isn’t hotel rooms. It’s knowledge workers. If you’re not utilizing those valuable (and expensive) resources, you’re failing to optimize the firm’s profitability. Conversely, if you’ve got more opportunities than resources to handle them, you’re leaving money on the table—or watching overworked employees walk out
The common thread here is visibility. Service company decision-makers need to see the big picture, informed by frontline-level detail. They must manage a diversity of moving parts in a highly competitive, and often highly regulated, environment. This is the case whether you’re in management consulting, financial advisory, software development, system integration, advertising, accounting, or any of the other proserv specialties that Velosio has been serving for years. It applies whether your business is small, medium-sized or enterprise-scope.
Benefits of Integrated Project-Based ERP Software
Project-Based ERP is a special flavor of ERP for companies that need to manage much more than standard finances, billing, inventory, HR and other common business requirements.
Anyone responsible for managing a large company where projects account for the lion’s share of revenue understands that quoting, bidding, contracting and project execution drive a significant amount of processing in the financial system. Without formally connecting these processes to back-office systems, it is nearly impossible to accurately project revenue, measure profitability and make sound financial decisions.
By integrating these processes, companies can manage business and cash flow more effectively by:
- Lowering costs associated with siloed environments
- Increasing quote conversion rate, reducing cost of lost pursuits
- Onboarding new projects faster
- Allocating resources more efficiently
- Improving utilization metrics (for services companies)
- Providing a better client experience with more accurate and timely billing
- Predicting revenue and pipeline more accurately
- Streamlining interdepartmental communications and reduce redundant workloads
- Never running out of stock and cutting materials costs
- Avoiding project overruns with WBS transparency and controls
- Mid-Contract changes or additions automatically flow throughout all systems
- Improving revenue recognition and adherence to accounting standards like ASC 606
- Providing comprehensive reporting, dashboards and predictive analytics to drive better decision-making
The advantages of an integrated, cloud-based, system are clear but it isn’t uncommon for project-based companies to reply on multiple, disconnected systems. Most have evolved over time and pieced disparate systems together over many years. Excel may feel comfortable, but these disparate systems makes visibility into your business impossible.
7 Reasons to Migrate Your Project Based ERP Software to Public or Private Cloud
Now is the ideal time to shift into high gear and establish a foundation for your digital future. By taking advantage of the cloud, you can capitalize on the power of data and take full advantage of emerging technology. As highlighted in the infographic, here are seven reasons it’s time to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the cloud:
Reduce Capital Investments
Running core business systems on premise requires significant expenditures in hardware, real estate and building space, and additional investments in HVAC, racks, IT support, maintenance and upfront software costs. Companies that move to the cloud do not have these expenses.
Integrate business systems
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project based ERP software offers great flexibility, especially when combined with the expanded capabilities of Microsoft Azure. Armed with a strong cloud-based foundation, you will be able to take advantage of financial, customer, operational, talent, and business intelligence apps and deliver actionable data to users on virtually any device, anywhere and at any time.
Increase data security
Cloud providers are measured against a much higher standard for security. They are obligated to safeguard data against electronic and environmental threats that put many businesses at risk. A qualified cloud provider will deliver reliable backups, use encryption and other cybersecurity tools to monitor data for risk, and will respond quickly in the event of theft or breach of devices and data.
Reduce the risk for business interruptions
Natural disasters ranging from weather to fires to regional power outages will stop business in its tracks. By moving business applications to Microsoft Azure, you will be able to get back up and running faster should an unexpected event occur. Built-in backup and geo-replication services add an additional layer of security to customer and corporate data.
Free IT to focus on strategic tasks
Your IT team can’t focus on the future when they are maintaining complex business management systems. A move to the cloud will free up your team for more business-centric activities, such as identifying new ways to understand customer behaviors that will support sales, expand product lines and lead your business into new marketplaces.
Establish a competitive advantage
Data is the quintessential part of gaining an edge over competitors. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 on Azure, you gain access to a higher level of business tools including Microsoft Power BI, PowerApps and Machine Learning. These apps turn data into insights that you can use to drive greater business efficiency, strengthen customer interactions and grow profits.
Utilize the cloud with confidence
When you are ready to move to the cloud, the experts at Velosio will guide you step-by-step through the process. We offer best-fit business applications, perform the administration and maintenance activities, and simplify your move to modern. Our Stratos Cloud is secure private cloud hosting that offers scalability, mobility and reliability with minimal disruption and a small up-front investment.
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