Requirements of ERP solution for Professional Services Industry

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1.      Professional Services

The Project module of ERP, which is fully interoperable with MS-Project, manages the entire project life-cycle: from the loading into ERP of RFI and RFP requirements to the linkage of requirements to project activities from within the software and more. Track changes and versions of requirements through the negotiations phase, connect requirements to a project WBS, define rates, generate cost estimates and project time tables, milestone tracking, delivery schedules, proposals, contract reviews, project contract management and the service agreement and its own life cycle all within the system because every aspect of the project is interconnected. ERP will help you coordinate complex projects, manage vendors and subcontractors, as well as retrieve real-time information about schedules and costs. ERP is an ideal solution for medium-sized companies which need an end-to-end solution to view both micro and macro data of the organization, and minimize the problems that can lead to late deliveries and budget overruns.

Requirements-of-ERP-solution-for-Professional-Services-Industry

2.      Industry Targeted Functionality

  • Powerful CRM capabilities; tight integration with MS-Outlook for pre- and post-sale activities
  • Requirement management with load capabilities from original Word RFP document to Scope of Work (SOW) documents
  • Automatic generation of price proposals into Word templates
  • Project management strengths coupled with powerful budget and P&L capabilities
  • Built-in stage gate processes and issue management
  • Tight integration with MS-Project, including version control
  • Contract management supporting various billing schemes – time and materials, milestones, retainer
  • Extensive HR capabilities with accreditation programs and resource allocation
  • Time and attendance as well as expense reporting

3.      Issues & Solutions

3.1.Displaying Projected Expenses in P&L Reports per Project

In the midst of a project in which various resources have been invested (e.g., raw materials have been purchased or transferred to a customer), there may be expenses for which journal entries have not yet been posted, and which are not yet accounted for in the ledger. The CFO, as well as the project manager, may want to use anticipated revenue and expenses to determine the project’s current state of risk (i.e., projected profit and loss).

ERP allows you to create financial statements which display revenues and expenses not yet posted to the ledger, but which can determine the project’s risk. This is done by defining the project as a profit center and then running a P&L Statement per Profit Center report that includes provisional entries. Provisional entries are created automatically by the Create Provisional Entries program, based on unbilled inventory and purchase transaction documents.

3.2.Managing Accounts for Service Calls to Private Customers

In companies that provide service to private homes, most of the receipts are generated at the customer’s home by field technicians.

These technicians work with computerized service calls, which provide a description of the malfunction and its recommended solution, and issue manual receipts to the customers.

When the technicians return to the office at the end of the workday, over-the-counter invoices are recorded in the system based on the service calls performed.

3.3.Graphic Interface for Assigning (Resources) to Tasks

ERP offers a fully integrated graphic calendar, in which you can define alerts and constraints, and which can be synchronized with MS-Outlook. Use this calendar to set up meetings, schedule appointments for technicians and sales people, and assign resources.

3.4.Assigning Technicians by Specialty/Geographic/Availability

Assigning Technicians by Specialty/Geographic Region/Available Work Days in a Heterogeneous Environment

ERP’s Customer Service module enables you to manage technicians by their area of expertise, the geographic regions in which they operate on any particular day of the week and their availability in respect to customer needs. You can then use the system’s graphic interface to schedule technicians for service calls.

3.5.Managing Long-term Contracts with Set Payment Dates

ERP contains a unique utility for managing long-term contracts, which have an agreed price and fixed payment schedule. The agreements can be linked to varied exchange rates (in the dual currency package), and are invoiced automatically when a payment date is reached.

In a multi-customer environment, billing can be arranged in advance with the customer via a standing order, and charged to the customer’s bank account or credit card.

3.6.Advance Payment Invoices

You can produce an invoice that will act as advance payment for a sales order, indicating the amount advanced and without indicating order items. Upon finalizing the invoice, the Advance Payment Balance field for the sales order is updated. Each additional invoice opened for this order will have a certain percentage deducted against the advance payment (as per the percentage defined in the order), until its balance is cleared.

3.7.Interfacing with MS Project

You can create project plans in MS-Project, import them into ERP, and update the ERP project with imported data. MS-Project files are imported from within the project. The program imports the hierarchical activity structure (WBS), including start and end dates, human resources assigned to each activity, and additional details. In ERP’s Projects module, you can link activities to planned resources, such as work hours and materials taken directly from the Purchasing and Financials modules. This integration enables the production of Planning and Execution reports at all levels of the project, as well as the Revenue and Profit per Project report.

3.8.Automatic Preparation of Project Invoices

ERP enables automatic creation of invoices for projects. Project customers will be billed for:

  • Project payments whose due date has arrived and that have been released for collection
  • Reported hours flagged as billable (work hours and reported expenses)
  • Customer shipments for projects flagged as billable
  • Service calls for projects flagged as billable
  • Payments due for service contracts for the project

3.9.Planning a Project Payment Schedule

You can record payments that a customer owes for a project in a special form. Payments can be linked to WBS activities flagged as milestones. When reporting 100% completion of an activity linked to a payment, the payment is released for collection. When invoices for the project are automatically prepared, the program will prepare invoices for the released payments.

3.10.How to Ensure that Customers are Receiving Dedicated Service

ERP has created an automated module for this very purpose. ERP’s business process management (BPM) module allows you to define the maximum amount of time that a document (e.g., sales opportunity, price quote, order, service call, etc.) can remain in a given status. When the specified time frame has elapsed, you the manager will receive a message, so that you can establish the cause of delay and ensure that no one is neglecting your valued customer.

3.11.Managing Billing

ERP enables you to record telephone calls and emails sent to a customer regarding billing in a “customer tasks” form, enabling marketing and service personnel who contact the customer to view the current billing status for that customer.

3.12.Reporting Hours to a Project

ERP enables you to link reported work hours to specific sales orders, projects, and customers. Hours can be reported from the user’s office PC or via the internet. In each project to which hours are reported, you can monitor the planned hours for an activity versus its actual status at the push of a button.

3.13.Project Costing

ERP enables you to record planned costs of human resources and materials for each activity, which are updated automatically from system documents such as journal entries, orders, shipments, invoices, etc. In addition, every activity displays its cumulative cost (the total planned cost of its sub-activities), which is calculated by a special program.

3.14.Managing Customer Requests for a Proposal (RFPs)

Before planning a project, record the customer’s objectives as you understand them, or as recorded in the RFP document you received with the Scope of Work (SOW) document. The SOW document consists of a numbered hierarchy of requirements and sub-requirements, which can include extensive remarks explaining each requirement. Each requirement can also be linked to its own final product, where the price of the product determines the price of the requirement (e.g., how much a specific development activity in the project will cost).

During project planning, you can link each activity to the requirement it is intended to fulfill, and thus calculate the requirement’s projected cost and profit. If you are working with planning versions, you can then create sub-activities automatically from the sub-levels of the linked requirement.

SOW documents can be imported from MS-Word files provided by the customer. You can maintain versions of each SOW document, as well as versions of the remarks recorded for individual requirements.

3.15.Are Your Customers satisfied with the Quality of Service?

ERP’s Customer Service module allows you to perform surveys amongst the customer population. Each survey is accompanied by a structured format of questions and responses determined in advance (which can also be updated during the course of the survey). The survey format is based on multiple-choice questions (for which several possible answers are provided). The user has free reign over the selection of questions to be included, as well as possible responses. During the survey, each customer contact’s responses are recorded.

At the completion of the survey, reports can be run that organize and summarize the accumulated information in a useful format. This information can then be used to reach conclusions with the aim of making your customer service more efficient and effective.

3.16.Project Payment by Milestones

ERP allows you to determine project milestones by flagging project activities (WBS) as milestones for payment. Once 100% of a given activity is completed, the planned charge is released and an invoice is created billing the customer. This invoice, which is created as a draft, undergoes a separate authorization process.

3.17.Profit & Loss Analysis for Projects

ERP’s Projects module is integrated with all forms and documents in the system, enabling you to view a form displaying the current profitability of any project, including projected profit. This form takes into account all actual and projected revenue and expenses recorded for the project.

3.18.Project Planning and Execution

ERP’s Project Management module enables you to calculate planned costs of a project at the activity (WBS) level, including material and labor costs, and subcontractor costs. Total planned costs of all activities are collectively added to the projected cost of the project. As the project progresses and resources are invested, you can receive a continuous report of how well its actual execution conforms to its planning, from the project level down to its individual activities, so that if there is any deviation, it will be recognized as soon as possible.

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