Lead to delivery success with Clearbench and ConnectWise Manage

November 21, 2022

What is going on today?

Over the course of the last two years, we were all affected by a pandemic that has now mostly ended. This pandemic however left us in a state of disruption where we are living with a shortage of resources, disruptions in supply chains and ultimately a higher demand for technology services. Every MSP is still feeling the heightened demand for services combined with a shortage of resources. Efficiency of operations is more important now than ever before!

In order to remain competitive in this environment, MSPs need to get their operations as efficient as possible to be able to deliver more with their current teams, ensuring they are able to respond to the higher demand for services and to keep their customers satisfied. How can we achieve this? Through Data and proper planning! This is where ClearBench and ConnectWise Manage can help your MSP support their daily planning operations and have a higher chance of success in the lead to the delivery process. In this article, we will look at the benefits of planning your resources in ClearBench and effectively leveraging the features and data in ConnectWise Manage for the different steps of the lead to the delivery process.

A new lead, can we deliver it?

When a new lead comes into your sales funnel, your sales team will proceed to a qualification process to determine if the lead is a fit for your business based on the technology stack and the customer’s persona.

Okay, the lead is Qualified, but can we deliver this project? Do we have the staff or the workforce capacity to deliver within the timeline requested by our client? Normally a sales rep will use their experience and probing questions to the service manager to estimate. ClearBench can tell you if you would be able to deliver this project in the timeline and skills needed.

By making sure to maintain and insert all skillsets and work roles for all employees of your MSP in Manage, your sales team will be able to search for the needed skillsets and/or work roles for the project. They will see in the timeline requested by customers that you have the workforce to deliver this project. From the very first contact with your customer, you can set the correct expectations for delivery or let the lead go because you don’t have the workforce to deliver the project. In either case, you will present yourself as a mature MSP, give a positive impression to the customer, and they may change their mind on the timeline.

We now have an opportunity, but is it the right price? Should we plan for it?

Our lead is qualified, we can deliver it based on the upcoming planning in ClearBench and the timeline is good, good job! How can we be more efficient, get higher chances of closing this deal and keep our margin as high as possible? This is another step where the data entered in ClearBench and Manage can make a big difference for your MSP.

By entering as much data as possible in Manage like the opportunity type, service hours, stages, probability, and implicated department, and by making sure that every planned project is in ClearBench, you have higher probability for this project to be a financial and technical success. With all this data accessible, you can plan for this project earlier and make sure that you can still deliver. Further, you will be able to identify who on your team is most likely to work on this project and ensure to sell at the correct rate for those specific resources. At this point, you already have more chances to get a great margin on this project.

But should I plan it and commit the resources in ClearBench? As a team, you can decide what is the threshold in the probability and revenue value to trigger the planning of this project. This is saying that you are far enough in the stages of the opportunity and the value is high enough that your service manager should make sure to lock in the capacity of the resources in ClearBench. ClearBench can attach opportunities to resources. That is why it is so important to input the number of hours of services in the forecast of the opportunity. The service manager will plan the right time for the resources. This will have positive effects on your revenue forecast because your planning is more accurate based on the real opportunity data.

We won the deal!

Great work, you’ve won the deal! It’s now time to convert this opportunity into a project or service ticket. From there, the service manager or the project manager will build out the project in Manage. The manager will build the work plan in Manage and ensure all the important information is in place. Information like the various budgets, the start date, the estimated end date, the project type, the project manager’s name, the due dates, as well as any dependencies in the work plan.

At this point, the manager will confirm the planning of the resources by swapping their assignments from the opportunity to the project and/or project tickets. This will do two things in the background:

1- Add to every resource with an assignment to a project ticket a schedule entry in their ConnectWise Calendar

2- Create a Gantt chart for your project in ClearBench.

Yes, you read right, by this simple action, your resources for this project will all be scheduled in ConnectWise, and you will also have access to a Gantt chart of your project in ClearBench. With your team booked and your project planned, you are ready roll!

Let’s rock this project and deliver it like champions!

We are ready to get started, but now what? How can we deliver this project and achieve success? Your team needs to be aware that all of the data is critical. Data points like your time entries, keeping your status up to date and keeping your due dates accurate. OK, but how does all this come together and result in efficiency? ClearBench will tell you!

By making sure that all the data is up to date, or all of information is raised up to the manager, any actions in ClearBench and dashboard or reports will tell you. If your manager is changing an assignment that goes past the due date or the budget, the manager will receive a warning indicating the situation. If your organization doesn’t allow planning over budget or beyond the due date, ClearBench will block any modification to the assignments using the organization’s configuration.

ClearBench also has a conflict management tool that will show you all of the conflicts with the assignments you are creating of modifying. The conflict management tool will enable your manager to take decisions over all existing conflicts in one page and make sure that it doesn’t impact his actual projects or any other planned projects. You are more likely to succeed in juggling multiple projects with this tool.

Within ClearBench, you will also see if you have any projects at risk of not delivering on time. We have created reports and dashboards that will look at the burn rate of the planned hours, the budgeted hours, the number of days left and the percentage of completion. ClearBench will raise flags in those reports or dashboards for all of the projects at risk of not to be delivered in time. You will be able to act quickly to mitigate the situation.

By using all the different features and data, you are more likely to deliver your project in time and on budget!

Do we need to hire?

How do you know if you need to hire? When do you need to hire? What types of resources should we hire? ClearBench will tell you! By optimizing your planning process and it’s accuracy with ClearBench and by looking at your sales funnel, you will see when you will need to hire and whom you will need to hire. The fact that you can assign resources to opportunities in ClearBench will allow you to see what your real capacity for the rest of the funnel is. By looking at the expected closed date and amount of service hours needed in Manage and the global calendar in ClearBench, you will see exactly where your capacity breaking point is versus what’s coming in the sales funnel. In short, Less reactive hiring, more proactive hiring!

What about the financial forecast?

We’ve talked a lot about getting more efficient in our processes, getting more data in, knowing things earlier and planning appropriately, but what about the accuracy of that information? All this data, actions, warnings, and conflict management culminates with the accuracy of the financial forecast. By planning the right resource for the right project for the right number of hours in ClearBench will allow your MSP to get more accurate financial forecasting. With an accurate forecast, you will make better business decisions, backed by real intelligence. You can forecast as long into the future as you are able in order to plan your projects and future projects.

What’s in it for the customer?

Your customer will benefit of ClearBench and Manage without even knowing it. You will be able to set the proper expectation at first contact. Their project will be more likely to be delivered on time, in scope and on budget. They will see in your MSP a professional and mature partner, capable of delivering good business in the long run.

In Conclusion

By leveraging ClearBench and ConnectWise Manage features and data as early as possible in your lead to delivery process, you will be empowered to succeed on multiple levels. The customer’s expectations are set quickly in the process. You know before the deal is won if you can deliver this project with your actual team or if need to hire for this future project. By knowing who is more likely to work on this project, you can set the proper rates for work roles and keep a healthy margin. You are more likely to deliver on time and on budget which will result in a satisfied and returning customer, bringing in new opportunities and potential referrals. You will have better forecasting, a better capacity management and a better hire rhythm.

If you want to know more about ClearBench please visit us at clearbench.com and plan a demo.

If you are coming to IT Nation in Orlando from November 9th to the 11th, come to see us at our booth (booth #14) and we can discuss how we can help you do more and grow.

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