A few years ago, a prospective client came to us and said they were interested in implementing Projector as their Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool. At the time, they were a small, 8-person start-up consultancy and Projector was probably overkill for their existing needs. They predicted, however, that they were going to grow, both in size and in complexity. And grow they did—like a weed on steroids. Within a few years, their staff expanded 25-fold, they started up operations in five different countries, and they expanded beyond their traditional consulting business model. They turned themselves into a very attractive strategic acquisition target for one of the largest and most well-respected global firms in their space, and still use Projector to this day.
That narrative is one that any entrepreneur or business leader can and should rightly be proud of. That’s not the whole story, however, as there is a secondary theme that accompanies this main plot line. That sub-plot is a tale about how the company accomplished this entire process with a single set of systems:
Projector as its PSA solution of choice integrated with, quite frankly, one of the lower-end, simpler accounting packages. It’s not that the organization was unsophisticated from an accounting requirements and financial control perspective. Quite the contrary—they had hired some serious operational and financial management talent from the start and had sophisticated control and reporting needs from day one. Rather, they realized that an investment in the right PSA solution, Projector, would allow it to take on the heavy lifting from a project accounting standpoint. When they considered an upgrade to a Microsoft Dynamics or an Oracle or an SAP, they decided that they could delay that upgrade—and all the attendant turmoil it would cause—because Projector was able to manage the details and effectively scale with the business.
Projector as the project accounting subledger handled all the gory-level transactional details of approving expenses, recognizing revenue, and billing clients. Rather than forcing the general ledger to have to bear with copious quantities of detail, potentially bringing it to its knees, transactions aggregated to just the right level flowed over to the accounting system. Projector then provided all the necessary drill-down capabilities and reconciliation through appropriate control accounts that a good subledger should. Further, Projector was able to do all of this based on work that normal project, resource, and operational managers do on a day-to-day basis, all without expecting that they understand the difference between a debit and credit or how to spell “chart of accounts.”
…and the Panorama
What’s more, good Professional Services Automation software like Projector gives executives the ability to take a step back from the individual transactional detail to form a perspective of how the business is doing overall. Did we meet our revenue targets? What clients are we heavily exposed to or heavily reliant on? What types of projects give us the best profitability? Are we discounting too heavily in order to win business?
The best PSA systems go beyond a purely financial view of the business by combining it with an operational perspective as well. What departments are so heavily utilized that we should think about hiring? What projects are running behind schedule or over budget? How much did this type of project cost the last time we delivered it? How good have our effort estimates been in the past? How much do we need to worry about variability in our revenue projections?
All these questions (and more that the organization didn’t even think to ask) were answered in Projector’s performance dashboards. These dashboards provided the big picture, the panoramic view of how the business was doing as a whole.
The point of this whole narrative is that it sometimes pays to look a little deeper, even when you think you know who the culprit is. If you think your accounting system is on its last legs and just crying for an upgrade, it may be because you’re asking too much of it. Rather than an expensive and intrusive total system replacement, you may be able to extend its useful life…and do so in a big way. One approach is to implement a purpose-built system like Projector that’s specifically targeted at the needs of a professional services firm, rather than force those industry-specific needs on an application like your general ledger.
Or, if you already use a different Professional Services Automation solution, you may want to take a hard look at it to see if it’s pulling its weight. A quick and effective way to do this is through our Performance Scorecard. Much like with a good murder mystery, sometimes the antagonist is really the victim, and the truly guilty party rarely is whom you first suspect.
If you’d like more information about how Projector can act as your project accounting subledger and extend the life of your accounting system, check out our Project Accounting Module.
If you’d like to find out more about how your organization’s performance compares against your peers and how users of other PSA systems compare against users of Projector, take a look at our interactive Performance Scorecard.