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The art of delivering smarter, faster estimates in services delivery

This guest post was written by Jeanne Urich, Service Performance Insight managing director and management consultant specializing in improvement and transformation for project and service-oriented organizations. She is a world-renowned thought leader, speaker, and author on all aspects of Professional Services.

For both sales and service delivery personnel, nothing has been more frustrating than not having a systematic approach to ensure new quotes reflect the reality and costs of previous projects. In services, preparing estimates is typically an iterative process, with adjustments in resources, costs, timelines, deliverables, and discounts to zero in on the best customer plan.

The missing components between traditional PSA and CRM tools have typically been the ability to harvest past projects, leverage best-practice templates, and truly understand the costs involved to prepare accurate estimates and proposals.

With the new Services CPQ from Certinia, the services estimating process is integrated with Salesforce CRM, acting as glue between the sales cycle and delivery cycle by bringing quoting and estimating onto a unified platform, requiring no duplication of data or manual handoffs. Services CPQ offers the promise of reducing the time, cost, and inaccuracies of manual services estimates. By using a library of templates and best practices, services can be estimated automatically or manually. Estimate templates can include the cost, time and expense of resources, enabling the team to make informed decisions regarding discounts and time commitments.  Rate cards can be built in to take advantage of variable resource pricing rather than having to rely on the current sloppy practice of “blended rates”.

PSOs can harvest the information from prior engagements to determine which services and at what cost best serve their clients.  And with the historical information in CPQ from PSA, the client can be assured of the accuracy of pricing and timing. Better estimates can be created more quickly, with fewer omissions and errors resulting in higher win ratios.

Before Services CPQ, service quoting was more art than science, dependent on the estimating prowess of a few individuals. The trick of services pricing is to win as much “good” business as possible without giving away the store.  Critically, high-quality estimates, proposals, and pricing rely on a link with resource availability and cost as it makes no sense to create a compelling estimate if the resources are not available or having to inform clients they will face unacceptable delays before project initiation.

Clearly, accurate and timely estimating is the key to driving higher win ratios. From SPI’s research, the table shows the powerful impact of winning proposals with significantly higher revenue growth and larger sales pipelines. On the service delivery side, better-quoting manifests in significantly improved on-time project delivery and much larger projects.

CPQ is clearly a major component of driving customer value by ensuring the timeliness and accuracy of proposals which result in the delivery of high-quality, profitable projects which in turn lead to referrals, repeat business and new opportunities, creating an infinite client value chain.

Services CPQ is not possible without the integration of CRM and PSA. As the table depicts, this integration results in higher win ratios; larger sales pipelines; a higher percentage of new logo client revenue indicating market expansion; fewer project overruns resulting from more repeatable, standardized quoting and delivery templates which all combine to produce significantly more profit.

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