Prime candidates for back-office automation

Doing more with less – these are common marching orders in many organizations. IT professional services is certainly no exception, and the ongoing challenge of meeting increased demands without a corresponding bump in headcount results in long hours, missed deadlines, low employee morale and unhappy stakeholders.

It is a simple supply-and-demand equation; people are demanding more, but you are working with the same supply you have always had… if not

LESS. Unfortunately, increasing the price is not an option in many environments with internal customers, which is why teams need to change their way of doing business if they want to stay afloat.

This is where automating back-office tasks can provide a huge relief for over-taxed organizations, as well as those wise enough to prepare for an eventual scale-up in the future. Back-office automation is all about minimizing the time spent on administrative and overhead-type tasks so your talent can focus on doing their actual jobs of fixing problems and delivering solutions.

So, let us think about the optimal spots for streamlining workflow via automation:

Time tracking

When customers are paying the bills or internal billbacks are tied to specific projects, every minute needs to be accounted for and eventually reconciled. When this is simply part of the routine workflow instead of a separate task, it is far more likely to actually happen and be much more accurate than foggy recollections and after-the-fact guesstimates.

Inventory tracking

Who bought what, why did they buy it, who took it, where is it at… these are not questions that productive organizations should be asking themselves. Knowing what is on hand, where to find it and what has been loaned out or deployed speeds up support and lets your organization run a lean-and-mean operation from an equipment and software license perspective. It can save you from buying extra seats, devices and systems when you already have something comparable in stock and improve cash flow.

Invoicing

Getting customers to pay their bills is what keeps the lights on, but it can also be a huge hassle. With automated invoicing, billing becomes a set-it-and-forget-it part of your operation, with customers being billed at the cadence they desire without the need for accounts receivable to generate invoices and collect supporting information.

Ticketing

Great customer support all starts with getting the case into the right person’s hands quickly. Instead of waiting for manual reviews or random assignments, automation can triage tickets as they come in and instantly put them on the virtual desk of the most qualified and/or most available personnel in the organization. Turnaround times, resolution rates and customer satisfaction all also get automatically tracked and reported, making it a cinch to spot the shortcomings in your support processes and optimize for improved customer centricity.

Expense calculations and reporting

Tabulating expenses adds zero value, but it is essential to your organizations accounting operations. Automatically tagging every expense with the specific project and cost center streamlines this process and spares everyone from agonizing retroactive forensic accounting exercises.

Identifying and assigning talent

When a project requires a certain set of skills, identifying the right resource can be half the battle. However, when all of your staff have detailed resource profiles including their areas of expertise and proficiency, project managers can simply choose someone from the available pool and slot them into the schedule without needing to survey the staff or ask for recommendations.

Template-driven workflows

A lot of professional services work is not revolutionary; you are doing things that are very similar – if not identical – to tasks and projects you have completed in the past. So why recreate the wheel every time? Borrowing from the past and using previous plans as a starting point saves a huge amount of time and reduces errors of omission.

Status reporting

How many times a week do you hear some variation of “Where are we at with that?” Providing updates is an essential part of managing up AND down in any organization. Being able to instantly see how projects are progressing in terms of timeline, resource utilization, budget and estimated completion is a huge time-saver. Make some of those reports and dashboards self-serve, and now they do not even have to bother you to begin with!

Minimizing meetings

Seeking shorter standups and faster face-to-face interactions? It helps when everyone is already on the same page and has access to the identical information. Meetings can serve their true purpose (discussion, debate and decision) instead of wasting time on PowerPoints and oral regurgitation of metrics and project plans.

Unlock automation with a PSA tool

Employing a PSA solution can transform your organization into a high-efficiency delivery machine. With so many automated offerings for back-office tasks all fully integrated and part of a unified UI and workflow, the benefits of efficiency apply from the smallest shops to the largest enterprises.

Ready to find out how you can increase velocity with a PSA solution? Check out BMS from Kaseya.

 

Posted by Matt Volpi
Matt Volpi has spent more than two decades in product management and marketing bringing innovative technical solutions to market in a variety of industries. He has also managed inside sales, sales operations and client services teams for tech startups and frequently works with companies on their messaging and content marketing initiatives. Matt has a journalism degree from Penn State University and an MBA from Babson College.
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