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A recent TSIA blog, “Top 6 Professional Services Challenges”, describes the unique issues facing Services teams. The blog makes clear that the top challenges involve looking beyond the horizon of active projects in order to optimize the future. Translation: seamless collaboration between Sales and Services is critical. Optimizing Services will require filling a big, long-standing, gap:  services quoting.

In this blog, I will explain how companies across the industry are integrating services quoting with CRM (customer relationship management) and PSA (professional services automation).

Fill the Gap with Services Quoting

Services CPQ (configure price quote) is built for selling enterprise services: professional, managed, or subscription-based (“anything-as-a-service”). The catalog in Services CPQ defines what can be sold and how. Mostly importantly, CPQ is where quoting itself becomes fast, free of spreadsheets, and integrated with CRM and PSA. But there’s more.

Services CPQ is built for selling and forecasting services. It replaces spreadsheets.

The quotes in CPQ accurately forecast resource demand (and revenue). Services CPQ sends resource demand to PSA. So, for example, when a quote is created in Zimit, the resource demand in PSA is updated instantly. Real-time resource demand replaces spreadsheets with immediate and accurate answers to important questions:

  • What skills are needed, for which customers, starting on what date, and for how long?

  • How would our resource forecasts change if we win, lose or change start dates?

  • Do we have the right resource mix and resource volume given current demand?

the gap in services today

Today, most quoting is done with spreadsheets and manually created proposal (SOW) docs.  Forecasting and capacity is estimated in different spreadsheets without a view into current resource demand and capacity.. The current methods are slow, expensive, and detrimental to customer satisfaction. The companies that we talk to estimate that their teams are spending over 40% of their time on proposal admin, while the cost of sales support is going up. With margins already under pressure, this is not sustainable.

As projects become shorter and solution offerings keep expanding, the project backlog doesn’t stretch as far into the future as before.  Without adequate tools, services teams are forced to “wait until we win, then react” operating model. This strains delivery teams and makes companies vulnerable to more progressive approaches.

If optimization is an ROI exercise, the biggest return is probably in services quoting.

Adding Services CPQ to CRM and PSA

Increasingly, the adoption that we see across the industry is the combination of CRM, Services CPQ, and PSA. In this scenario, CRM manages the opportunity, CPQ automates resource effort, pricing, and proposal content, and PSA keeps track of resources and projects. Combined, this creates a powerful, purpose-built, solution, allowing companies to implement an integrated Opportunity-to-Revenue lifecycle, which is at the heart of challenges Bo Di Muccio’s blog suggests.

services triple play  

Services Triple Play combines Salesforce (CRM), Zimit (CPQ), and FinancialForce (PSA).

In short, shopping for the right solution that combines all three can provide next-generation resource management and capacity planning, while smoothing out the handshakes between Sales and Services.

The Services Triple Play:  Live at TSW!

Sometimes it’s easier if you see it!  If you are attending TSW in Las Vegas, stop by the Zimit or FinancialForce booth. We’ll show you how much simpler quoting, resource forecasting, and project creation can be with live demonstrations.


James Cramer

About Author James Cramer

James Cramer works for Zimit, the leading provider of Services CPQ. Other popular blog posts of his include: “CPQ for Services: The Spreadsheet Killer” and “How to (Actually) Automate Services Proposals.”