Data is everywhere these days. And, if you are in the business of selling, installing, maintaining and servicing technology, you’re on the front lines.
Think about all of the data you rely on and manage — from basic customer information and contracts to IP addresses, passwords and service tickets. It's dizzying, and that's only the beginning.
It used to be that a CRM tool was all you needed to keep track of everything. But times have changed, and virtually every department has mountains of vital company information that some other department needs to access — from inventory and accounting to time sheets and scheduled tasks.
Many small- to medium-sized (SMB) IT companies looking to grow have this vital information locked up in separate data silos, not always accessible to everyone who needs it. Sometimes the same data elements are entered in different applications that don’t talk to each other. The result is a huge productivity suck, and all too often, some data is not properly updated.
But an organized business has established processes and procedures that everyone follows to be sure that the right data is entered into the right place and remains accessible. Here are five ways your IT company can stay organized in this age of Big Data:
Capturing billable time
In any business that offers any type of service, time literally is money. Every additional hour you can bill adds money to your bottom line.
The problem most service companies have is they “leak” billable hours. Unless your employees are trained to log every billable hour they work — AS SOON AS THEY COMPLETE EACH TASK — they are very likely to miss an hour here and an hour there. Over the course of weeks and months, this missed time really adds up.
To address this problem, instill time tracking into your corporate culture and give your employees an easy way to track and capture their time.
Getting invoices out quicker
The longer it takes you to send out a bill, the longer it will be before you get paid. If you are like most businesses, cash flow is critical to smooth operations. You don’t want to be scrambling to make payroll or incurring late fees and bad marks on your company’s credit rating.
The best way to improve your cash flow is to set up contracts that allow advanced billing for your recurring services, with payments due at the end of the month in which the service is completed, rather than in arrears. And, for larger projects, build in milestones with defined progress payments.
For hourly work, capture your billable time and expenses in real time, and issue an invoice as soon as the job is complete.
Spend less time on administrative work
In a services-based business, one of your biggest — if not the biggest — expense is payroll. You want good people, but you also want to get the most productivity out of your employees.
The best way to accomplish this is to find ways to automate many of the mundane and routine administrative tasks, like entering time and data, creating or working service tickets,
tracking inventory and the like.
A fully-integrated business management platform is the only way to accomplish time-saving automation across your business. It will allow you to model your business and workflow and get more work done with the resources you already have.
Establish goals and measure results
How good is good? What are your expectations for your employees? Should they be putting in X hours a day, or is it more important that they generate Y billable hours for the week?
As a smart business leader, you’ll determine what measures of productivity will have a real impact on your profitability, and make sure that everyone in your organization has specific goals or targets to meet.
Then you’ll put into place a system that will allow you to actually track and measure performance.
While there are certain pieces of company information that you may want to keep private, the most efficient companies operate with clear channels of communication between and among the internal teams.
What that looks like is everyone working off a common calendar that includes personal appointments and company meetings, making scheduling faster and more efficient. It also means all company related email communications get attached to a client account rather than locked up in some individual inbox. In fact, all client-related information — every proposal, contract, service ticket and meeting note — should be easily accessible to all employees.
Implementing the right software solution to accomplish this will ensure that all your employees are literally on the same page and have a remarkable impact on service levels and productivity.
Business automation software
Want to find the right business automation solution, such as a a PSA software or ERP platform, to help your technology SMB stay organized? Start your search by downloading our PSA Checklist for Technology Services Providers.