Blogs

Cash is King: How to Strengthen Your Invoicing and Rule

“Cash is king.” The expression can have various meanings, but when analyzing professional services organizations (PSO), it typically refers to cash flow and its importance to fiscal health. It can be used as a declaration of success, a metric of a well-run business or simple indicator of company growth.

Regardless, the principle is key to all businesses; cash is fundamental to daily operations. It primarily impacts your ability to pay salaries, operating expenses, suppliers, taxes and more.  

As a business, you control cash income from invoicing. Having an effective process in place can build a foundation that protects cash flow, increase credibility with suppliers and even bolster investor confidence.

So how do you build a strong invoicing model? It’s not as difficult as you may think. The following presents common problems and effective solutions for you to consider.

Strong commercial terms

The problem: “This isn’t what we agreed” or “This isn’t our process.” This is what happens when your customer disputes an invoice based on their interpretation of the contract or usual business practices. In all likelihood, the person processing your invoice on the customer side is not directly involved in the engagement and will follow their internal processes and review documentation before making payment

The solution: Every sale you make should be linked to unambiguous, clear and achievable terms and conditions (T&Cs) for invoicing and payment. By framing the quote/order form with strong T&Cs, you control the financial engagement, limiting stalling or delaying tactics by your customers.

Proactive not reactive

The problem: “The values are incorrect” or “The invoice has the wrong details.” You hear this when your customer disputes the values or data of the invoice.

The solution: Don’t wait until it is time to invoice before you check orders – validate at the point of sale. This shouldn’t be perceived as delaying sales; it is managing commercial risk and ensuring all data is correct from the start. This includes customer data (addresses, legal name, payment terms), contractual data (quantities, rates, products) and contact information.

Further, having an independent compliance check of a contract can identify any mistakes, irregularities or adverse commercial terms, enabling you to adjust prior to the start of the delivery process.

Automate, automate, automate

The problem: “The rates are incorrect” or “The calculations are wrong.” This occurs when your customer identifies transactional errors and disputes the invoice details.

The solution: Creating invoices is a time sensitive process. When data is manually collected and then manually entered into invoices, there is a significant risk of incorrect values presented to your customer.

Maximize your software to minimize manual mistakes and improve efficiency. Let the software do the work based on the transactional data your team is recording.

When data is validated/approved, the software creates invoices (singular or batches) based on this detail, with no requirement for manual entry or creation. The monthly process is faster because you’ve reduced the risk of incorrect invoices – and clients tend to be happier.

Assurance not processing

The problem: “The transactions are incorrect” or “You didn’t deliver this work.” Customer’s disputing the content of an invoice are common but frustrating.

The solution: Traditionally, invoices are created and processed by the finance team or another back office function. They have no direct knowledge of whether the content of the invoices is correct or not.

Empower your project team to create invoices. This ensures that someone with direct knowledge of the engagement views the invoice at creation and is accountable for the transactional data. The back office team then performs an assurance role, focused on contractual values and acting as a safeguard.

Maximize engagement

The problem: “I’m not paying” or “I am waiting on dispute resolution.” This is a phrase you don’t want to hear because it means the customer is delaying payment and there’s no clear communication path.

The solution: Emails back and forth to generic addresses, lack of ownership and vague promises from faceless names all contribute to negative cash flow. During the project delivery cycle, your team and the customer communicate, build relationships and interact on a regular basis. Utilize your delivery teams interactions with the customer to aid dispute resolution for the benefit of all parties.

Positioned to rule

Using these principles creates a strong foundation to improve your cash flow, maximize your customer reputation and reduce commercial risk.

To further improve your billing processes, invest in an end to end quote-to-cash software solution, such as a professional service automation (PSA) platform. The benefits this can bring to your invoicing process includes:

  • Automation of compliance processes (approvals and audit trail)
  • Single source of customer data (quote to invoice)
  • Single platform for sales and delivery teams (capacity management)
  • Real time data for sales and delivery performance and leadership insights
  • Improved employee efficiency (reduction in overhead through automation)

As the saying goes, cash is king. And when you strengthen your invoicing processes, you’ll be in a much better position to rule.

Interested in learning how you can strengthen your quote-to-cash process? Contact us today.

Blogs

The Professional Services Expert Series: A Q&A with Karl Sakas, the Marketing Agency Leader’s “Dr. Phil”

By Mark van Leeuwen, CEO of VOGSY

Welcome to the newest edition to the VOGSY blog, The Professional Services Expert Series. We’re fortunate to interact with leaders and influencers involved in a range of professional services industries and would like to share their expertise. This is the first in a series of interviews VOGSY is conducting in order to bring you their thoughts on the topics that matter the most.

Our first interview is with marketing agency expert Karl Sakas of Sakas & Company.

Marketing influencer Jay Bear calls Karl “the Dr. Phil of agency owners and managers: one part confidante, one part ass kicker.” Karl has shaped hundreds of marketing agencies worldwide, enabling owners to conquer growing pains. He speaks at national and international events, and has written several books, including Made to Lead: A Pocket Guide to Managing Marketing & Creative Teams.

I recently chatted with Karl for tips on how to improve a marketing agency’s health and create revenue goals.

MVL: Marketing is constantly changing. Since the start of the digital revolution, agencies have constantly been adapting to new practices, strategies and technologies. It can be overwhelming. What’s the most important thing you can do to keep an agency on track and moving in the right direction?

KS: Plan for the expected, so when the unexpected hits, you’ll have time to improvise. You’ll either avoid emergencies, or at the least, have fewer ones. This includes setting profitability goals, which requires first setting revenue goals. When you set revenue goals, benefits fall into three categories: capacity planning, runway and compensation planning, and growth style alignment.

MVL: OK, let’s start with capacity planning – a major pain-point for agency owners today.

KS: You want to hire at the right time, upgrade your agency structure, and upgrade your internal processes. And you want to do this before you hit crisis mode.

Hire too early and you’re paying people to do work you don’t need done. Hire too late and your people are overworked, morale suffers and turnover follows. When you set revenue goals you’re not guessing – you know what you’re trying to hit, when and have an idea of where you stand – so you can plan accordingly.

You need to know when to upgrade your agency structure, too. You can’t scale without making changes. As you grow, that likely means new team structures, which could entail adding roles like subject matter experts or a head of new business development. Capacity planning helps you understand when those hiring points will come.

Projecting revenue can flag problems in your internal processes as well. If you have aggressive growth goals – more than 30 percent annually – you’ll probably have to revamp your project management processes. What worked last year may not get you where you want to go now. And that’s certainly true for account management because you’ll be bringing in more clients and need to consider changes to onboarding.

You want to resolve all or most of these questions in advance, not during a fire drill.

MVL: How does runway and compensation planning tie in to revenue goals?

KS: It’s about knowing if you’re on-track and identifying shortfalls while there’s time to fix them. When you manage against revenue goals, you build that “runway” to avoid mid-year financial crisis since you’ll see a problem before it turns critical. And compensation is motivation for your team and yourself, whether it’s inspiration to reach that dream goal or a nudge to pick up the pace if you’ve fallen behind.

Personal compensation ultimately stems from your agency’s overall budget: More money in and less money out typically allows more compensation for the owner. If revenue projections are down, you’ll know to cut your compensation or make other cuts. It’s not fun but it’s better to know in advance and tackle the issue than to delay and burn through your agency’s emergency cash reserves.

Your revenue goals help you know what — if anything — you can pay in profit-sharing, too. If numbers are down, I recommend communicating that sooner than later. It may lead to some hard feelings and perhaps even staff departures, but more likely it will help you enlist current employees to overcome the gap. After all, they typically understand the situation; they’re doing the work. Transparency is better than people expecting bonuses that never arrive, especially if they’re relying on that money.

For more information on how VOGSY can help your agency today, contact info@vogsy.com.

Interested in learning how you can take better control of your company’s time and money?

DOWNLOAD OUR AGENCY GUIGE

 

Webinars/Podcasts

A culture of Simplicity: A Podcast with Bureau of Digital

Excerpt from the Podcast:

Each day, we fire up app upon app upon app, going through the motions to create and organize our work and business in meaningful ways. Trouble is, all of that work takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. It can lead to a culture of chaos, leaving people frustrated when they can’t find things, align teams or projects or benchmark data to make good decisions.

Mark van Leeuwen, CEO of VOGSY, has been working in projects his entire life. He knows how complex professional services can be, and how difficult it can be to create change. Mark joins us to share insights gathered from working with many, many professional services organizations, and talk about some of the ways technology can ease our pain.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

 

Blogs

Increase agency margins with professional services automation

The new year has officially arrived, and if you’re like some agency leaders, you’re wondering how you can improve control and increase agency margins in an industry that’s constantly changing. Instead of just adding it to your “wish list,” why not make it happen?

With client needs becoming increasingly complex and budgets spread thin, the push for measurable metrics that prove your firm’s work is producing leads and sales has never been as essential as it is today. On the other hand, while you want to generate results, if you’re consistently over-servicing clients or incorrectly pricing projects, you’ll go out of business.

Luckily, there’s a technology out there that’s delivering a solution for many agencies: professional services automation (PSA) platforms. Here are three ways this single tool can get your company on track and profitable for the year ahead.  

  1. Understand and manage revenue strategy

Your revenue strategy (quote-to-cash model) doesn’t have to be difficult. Just think of it as a blueprint, one that starts with your client’s intention to use your service and ends with cash in the company’s bank account. Along the way, it should touch every department, channel and client in your agency, adding control and driving innovation across your organization.

In an agency, your employees are your asset and time is the product. This is true whether you charge clients a fixed cost per project or employ value-based billing (such as the percentage of sales you generate for clients). At the end of the day, you’re really trading hours for dollars.

When using a PSA with real-time insights into your company, you can manage revenue strategy to quickly adopt new business models, predict outcomes and meet complex customer demands. You can easily determine if costs and sales rates are accurate with cash flow.

In fact, companies using a PSA platform typically report an 8.4 percent improvement in projects completed on budget.

  1. Become more transparent

Karl Sakas, global agency consultant and president of Sakas and Company, revealed in his latest agency trends report, “Designing the Marketing Agency of the Future,” that savvy CMOs need revenue attribution to help them with business pressure from their CEO and CFO. According to IDG Connect, 70 percent of marketers struggle with cost justification.

Needless to say, it’s a lot easier for CMOs to get approval for marketing and sales initiatives if they can demonstrate need and success. So, it’s important to ensure your agency is giving clients the attribution they want and need.

The right PSA increases transactional transparency so you can provide clients the information they require based on real data. Not only does this increase your value, it provides business insight that enables you to help them identify new opportunities. This transactional data is the key to generating new business and increasing agency profitability for your team.

  1. Remove silos between team members

As a leader, no doubt you’ve heard some peers remark the agency model is “broken.” It’s not – it’s just changed. The digital age has introduced new technologies, marketing channels have both disappeared and sprung up, globalization is on the rise and competition is at an all-time high.

To be competitive, agencies must adapt their offerings, and even consider different business models.

PSA platforms provide the flexible, powerful platform agencies can build on. For instance, with project management becoming more agile, teams must constantly collaborate and draw upon each other. PSA tools give agency leaders and employees the ability to ensure work is done as efficiently and profitably as possible.

That’s why services organizations are used to quickly seeing a 9 percent increase in projects delivered on time and on budget with a PSA platform.

Make no mistake, running an agency in today’s business climate is challenging. More importantly, keep in mind the path to increasing agency profitability is different for every business. Still, running an agency is a matter of adapting to the work at hand. With a PSA platform providing greater operational insight, efficiency and financial control, you’ll have a greater ability to change, compete and conquer in the year ahead.

Interested in learning how you can take better control of your agency’s time and money? Download our agency guide here.

Blogs

Managing Contractors: Three Steps to Greater Success With Professional Services Automation

As professional services organizations (PSOs) face increased competition and a constrained talent pool, tapping contractors for work has become a necessity when it comes to staying ahead of competition. In fact, a recent NPR/Marist poll revealed that one in five jobs is held by a worker under contract. At this rate, independent contractors and freelancers could make up half of the workforce by 2028.

PSOs are all touched by the movement toward hiring independent contractors, which presents new challenges. How can you manage contractors efficiently? Can contractors seamlessly become part of the team? Are contractors helping your company reach its key performance indicators (KPIs)?

Luckily, there’s a technology solution out there that can solve this: professional services automation (PSA). Here are three ways a PSA platform can help you achieve greater success in managing contractors.

  1. Onboard contractors easily – and retain them 

    If you’ve recently hired 10 new contractors, chances are three of them might quit in the next 90 days or not want to work with your company again, according to a survey from Jobvite. Why? Thirty-four percent reported an incident or a bad experience drove them away, 43 percent said their day-to-day role wasn’t expected. This is worrisome when only 45 percent of businesses provide contractors and freelancers with training and only 54 percent offer formal onboarding, according to Deloitte’s “2018 Human Capital Trends” report.While providing a complete onboarding and training program to these workers may seem impractical, failing to do so could cause damage to a reputation, employer brand and internal teams. With a PSA platform, you can easily onboard contractors by sharing and storing all agreements and contact information upfront, removing the admin burden for you and your team. Additionally, with the ability to define their role and responsibilities, and assign them the number of hours they’re given for each project, it’s clear what their task is and what to bill against.

  2. Remove the silos between contractors and employees 

    Silos within businesses can bring PSOs down. That’s exactly what happens when businesses use a variety of applications that can’t be synergized; team members and contractors find themselves disconnected and working at cross purposes. 

    As PSOs project management approach has become more agile, it requires constant communication and collaboration between team members. PSAs break down these silos and increase visibility between projects and teams. In fact, Service Performance Insight Research has found it’s the transparency between projects and team members that allows executives to better analyze the business and make smarter decisions for positive outcomes. 

  3. Meet your KPIs 

    Almost every PSO is familiar with clients asking to measure and quantify the benefits of their work. But what about your company’s internal KPIs? 

    Understand how your contractors are helping you meet your company’s revenue goals with the automated insight that PSAs provide. With real-time analytics, there’s no “digging” for performance and financial reports – and these reports are adjusted as data is inputted from your contractors. This gives you access to determine if costs and sales rates are accurate and you can easily manage the cash flow. 

    Fortunately for PSOs who employ contractors, the tools available today are better than ever. All you need is the knowledge to choose the best-fitting PSA solution for your team.

Interested in learning how you can better manage your contractors? Contact us today.

Blogs

What professional services organizations can expect in 2019

Can you feel the change in the air? It’s refreshing, as the start of fall always is, but it also signals a time of reflection and preparation for your business. The end of the calendar year is a natural time to understand what worked and what didn’t, where you need to improve resources and start looking toward your plan for the following year.

With that in mind, here is a look at what’s coming to professional services organizations (PSOs) in 2019, and for what you’ll need to plan in order to remain competitive.

    1. Faster speed of change
      Remember the good ol’ days when life just seemed…simpler? Well, PSOs are no exception to that. Businesses were humming along as long as they supported their customers well. Now, PSO customers are more well-informed and are being targeted more aggressively with strong competitive offers.

      PSOs have to evolve their business – and do it quickly – to retain their existing customers and continue adding new ones. The industry evolution keeps requiring new adaptations, and that speed of change is only increasing.

    2. Constant agility
      That ever-increasing speed of change requires PSOs to become more agile. They simply must be faster on their feet and adjust their operations to customers’ changing needs. Becoming agile applies to every individual in the organization, and affects everything from how you hire, to how you develop and treat your team, and how you manage projects.

      It also means adopting technology and tools that are flexible enough to meet your pace of business. We’re not going to go back to how things were, so it’s time to understand and implement agile methodologies throughout your PSO.

    3. Customer centricity
      All businesses – not just those in professional services – must be built around the customer’s needs, wants and preferences to remain competitive. To center your business around your customer, you must first know your customer. To do that, you must listen to them.

      Listen to your customers and you can build a product that meets their needs and create experiences with your organizations that they enjoy – and benefit from. As one of our very wise customers says, “We don’t have a process. Our customer is the process.” Keep your customer at the heart of every decision you make, and you’ll keep delivering.

    4. Moving to the Google Cloud Platform
      Because of the incredible pace at which businesses are adopting new technology, we’re seeing more PSOs rely on a cloud platform rather than managing many disparate applications. Many favor the Google Cloud Platform for its less-is-more approach and easy to use tools – which means more vendors are building solutions on the Google platform.

      “The number of professional services organizations moving to G Suite is rapidly growing as companies look for a more agile, collaborative approach with less overhead and lower costs,” says Jeanne Urich, Managing Director at SPI Research, a global research, consulting and training organization for PSOs. It’s a natural choice: The G Suite doesn’t let cumbersome technology get in the way of doing your job well.

What’s on your radar for your business in 2019? Share with us on Twitter @VOGSY_PSA.

 

White papers

Agency Guide To PSA: Taking Control of Your Agency With Professional Services Automation

Where Does The Time Go? Agency Guide on Taking Control of Your Agency With Professional Services Automation.

It’s been said time is money and in no other industry is that truer than marketing and advertising. There’s an array of tools for specific functions, but when it comes to running “the business”, it’s often spreadsheets and manual madness.
In this guide learn:

  • what you can automate and achieve
  • what you can measure
  • what to look for in a PSA solution
Download the guide! 
  • VOGSY will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
  • You can change your mind any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at marketing@vogsy.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Webinars/Podcasts

Ecosystems Matter! Professional Services Automation on the Google Platform

SPI – VOGSY Joint Webinar:

The Professional Services industry is more competitive and complex than ever before. Today platforms, integration, and structured business processes matter to grow your business and drive the outcomes you need for profitability.

Service Performance Insight (SPI), the industry’s top research firm addresses the following in this webinar:

  • Why Platforms Matter! Leveraging the Google Platform
  • The Power and Benefits of PSA
  • VOGSY PSA on the Google Platform

Learn how you can grow your business and exceed your client’s expectations.

View the webinar

  • VOGSY will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
  • You can change your mind any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at marketing@vogsy.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Blogs

How automating your business creates a competitive advantage

Here’s how to automate your professional services business to increase productivity, grow faster and be more profitable.

Professional services organizations (PSOs) face increased competition, a constrained talent pool and greater global regulatory accountability, making working smarter – rather than harder – crucial. It just doesn’t make sense for you and your team to spend hours bogged down on repetitive administrative tasks that can easily be automated.

Luckily for you, professional services automation (PSA) tools were designed to solve this exact problem. A PSA solution automates everything – from finance to project management to contact management to timekeeping – and shares data from across the organization in one location. You’ll easily gain better support for your business and visibility into current and future work. It will help you increase productivity, grow more rapidly and achieve higher levels of profitability.

Here’s how your business can win with PSA:

  1. Remove tedious administrative work.
    The admin-in-front-of-every-door model does not work in today’s tech-driven workplace. It’s not efficient for executives to do administrative work when they should focus on growing the business; nor is it efficient to staff up with round-the-clock teams waiting for ad hoc requests to come in. PSA platforms allow you to see all of your data and project updates in one place, which lessens the strain on employees for admin activity and data analysis.
  2. Eliminate information silos to get the job done.
    Transparency is key to a successful business. Executives and owners need to see data coming in and make good decisions quickly in order to keep the company running and serve customers. You don’t know today what decisions you face tomorrow. Having real-time insights available anytime allows you to take action on things that haven’t even happened yet and drive positive outcomes for your business. In fact, companies have improved on-time project delivery by 9% with a PSA solution, which translates to success across the business.
  3. Engage employees so they make better decisions, faster.
    The services industry has shifted in recent years, requiring businesses to be more agile and react to constant change faster. This trickles down to teams and changes how employees work and collaborate with one another. It’s critical to share knowledge transparently and in near real time within teams, across the company and with clients. The workforce makeup and how team use technology has evolved, too: Forrester revealed 45 percent of information workers use mobile with clients and partners. A PSA solution built for mobile means your team can update information, remain engaged and make decisions from anywhere. Those real-time insights and knowledge leads to ownership and accountability to make better-informed decisions faster.
  4. Manage the entire quote-to-cash experience.
    PSOs tend to suffer in two areas: over-servicing clients and not even billing for a huge percentage of services rendered. With PSA, you can get control of billing and focus on quality of revenue. You’ll see all the work your team has in progress, hours allocated and clients not yet billed. PSA solutions help you drive the outcomes you need with better margins, lower overhead, higher utilization and more revenue.

PSAs enable you to run your business and manage your team more effectively, giving you time to focus on the important things you want – and need – to do to give your business a competitive advantage.

Interested in learning more about PSA? Contact us for a free demo of VOGSY today.

Webinars/Podcasts

Simplicity Matters! The Power of Simplicity and How to Drive ROI for Professional Services Firms

SPI – VOGSY Joint Webinar

For professional services organizations, your most important asset is your people and nowhere is information, simplicity and engagement more important than the PSO’s quote-to-cash lifecycle.

Service Performance Insight (SPI), the industry’s top research firm addresses the following in this webinar:

  • Lessons from today’s most popular software applications and social media networks
  • How PSO’s can take a people-centric approach to reduce information complexities
  • Ways to increase project profitability using a unified information approach for the entire quote-to-cash lifecycle
  • Key questions that can help leadership teams asses vulnerabilities and needs and how PSA can help

Don’t miss this chance to hear from the industry’s top research firm and gain insights that will help you learn how to grow your business and exceed client expectations.

Watch the webinar

View the Simplicity Matters Webinar

  • VOGSY will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
  • You can change your mind any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at marketing@vogsy.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.