Clients often ask us when the best time is to add projects to PPO. Should it be when they are approved? When the initial idea is conceived? When the need or demand for the project is first raised? Or perhaps when the proposal is submitted or approved? To answer this, it is necessary to look at from where and how projects originate; something that is very much based on your type of business.
In this blog article we will cover the scenario of a professional services company specifically, or one that bills for time. Please follow the PPO blog for notification on our follow up article, which will cover the recommended best practice for internal PMOs.
Professional services companies find that their projects most frequently begin at the end of its sales process. Proposals for potential projects will be submitted to clients and, when they are approved, they are assigned with an official “project” status. The question here is then, whether you load them onto PPO as projects when in initial discussions with a potential client, when you submit a proposal, or when the client approves the proposal?
The first point to consider is whether or not you plan to use a formal CRM tool.If your organisation has this type of tool already in place (or is going to implement one) to track and record your sales opportunities, then it’s recommended that projects be added to PPO only once a proposal has been approved. Your CRM tool will be able to track the opportunities through the sales cycle and if proposals are not accepted, key information around this can be stored here. This means that you are then able to revisit old opportunities and proposals as and when required and measure your closure rate in the CRM tool.
If you don’t have a formal CRM tool, then you might be considering loading these opportunities as potential projects in PPO. It is important to be cautious in taking this step though, as it can be problematic, unless you carefully consider the following:
- The number of opportunities you work on per month; and
- Project phase and status.
Take care in considering the number of opportunities created and the number of proposals submitted per month that will be loaded as potential projects in PPO. If you submit fewer than 10 proposals over the period of a month and load them at the proposal submission time, you’ll be adding around 120 projects to PPO in a year’s time – or even well over 200 if you load all opportunities before submitting proposals.
While this could “clutter” PPO, we recommend adding a phase prior to your first project phase, perhaps a “Pipeline”, and set up a status as “Proposed”. In this way, all potential projects can be filtered by selecting the Pipeline phase and if the proposal is unsuccessful, you can simply mark the status as “Rejected”. If approved, however, you can mark the status as “Active” and move the phase into “Initiating” or your first project phase. This allows for a smooth transition from sales into the project work and retains all the information, documentation and time spent (if you’re doing timesheets in PPO) on each opportunity. Managing the pipeline like this will also provide detailed statistics of your win and loss ratio and you can measure your average age to close, by using a calculated field on the project entity.
Should you have more than 10 new opportunities per month, or don’t want to add additional phases and status to PPO (and aren’t considering implementing a CRM tool), then our recommendation is to use a custom entity in PPO to track and manage opportunities and leads. Further to the custom entity, a number of preconfigured leads reports and dashboards can be deployed to your PPO instance, as well as the functionality to visualise and track your sales lifecycle.
We’re happy to report that a number of professional services consultancies have opted for this route, and to great effect.
Our recommendation for companies not utilising a formal CRM tool is thus to use a custom entity in PPO to measure and track leads. This type of functionality is already available within our pre-configured professional services solution.
If you need to track your leads and opportunities, try a free 30-day trial of Project Portfolio Office’s (PPO) professional services solution today at https://www.go2ppo.com/try.php.
PPO is an award winning online project portfolio management and collaboration application. PPO is simple, immediate, secure and affordable. PPO is flexible and can be configured to support any methodology.