Microsoft Project Service Automation: Highlights of the Spring 2016 Release

Over the course of my career, I have worked with many Professional Services Automation solutions. The names are all familiar and the functionalities much the same. However, in late December 2015, I received notice of a new solution that Microsoft was developing called Project Service Automation. The request was simple: “Robert, please look at this and let me know what you think.” Something about this request seemed different and exciting. I opened the provided link to view the video and was truly excited about what I learned.

Let me explain why this new release is something you should be pumped about too.

A Single System of Engagement

Project-based organizations can improve all aspects of their business by bringing people, processes and technology together. This enables them to become an integral part to their customer journey by delivering value at every interaction. On-time, on-budget service delivery excellence requires rich, collaborative experiences, efficient and effective interactions and a trusted advisory relationship. This strategy is further explained in a previous blog post, Top Reasons Why You Need an Integrated PSA Solution.

Microsoft understands this and built a comprehensive solution on Microsoft’s CRM/xRM platform. It is an end-to-end solution that provides a single system of engagement for project sales, resourcing, delivery and billing. It delivers an 'out of the box' experience with Microsoft productivity apps and machine learning capabilities on the device of choice empowering you to deliver personalized, predictable and profitable customer experiences.

Project Service Automation expands the CRM opportunity workflow to build out a fully relational PSA solution for mid-market and enterprise customers. CRM opportunities become professional services opportunities with various contract types, quotes, contracts and other elements that build a continuity from sales to delivery. Getting sales and delivery on the same page can often be a critical, missing element for many service organizations. Project Service Automation bridges this gap by passing the ball to delivery for estimating and then seamlessly and easily importing delivery’s estimates into the sales quote. One button and all the estimating performed by delivery becomes the details behind the quoting of new projects.

From my estimation, there are at least 10 steps, if not more, that are completely streamlined with the push of a button. This communication from sales to delivery will improve profitability and overall billability of a project. 

A Tool for Every Professional Service Executive

Delivery execution is the next, key element of a PSA solution and Microsoft has not left anything out. As a resource, project or practice manager or executive, the key to maximizing profitability is not just utilization. The right people, right skills and the right time equates to project excellence. 

Microsoft has put together the perfect combination of people, skills and timing to drive project excellence outcomes. In one screen, the Resource Availability screen presents a fully interactive, filtered view of people and skills across a timeline horizon. With this information, you can easily make decisions to perform bookings. However, if you do not have a good indication as to whom is the right resource, you can submit your request to a resource manager to review and find the right person, skill and even cost for your project. Talk about empowering project excellence! 

What we do with all this information is now up to us. How do we make the most use of excellent information coming into one solution? Microsoft has opened up PowerBI as a tool of choice to tap into the vast storage array of information about project performance. Forecasting is one of the key elements in a dashboard that our customers request. Whether working with Fixed Price Projects, Time & Materials, SaaS or other complex revenue recognition methods, everyone needs to see their forecasts and projections for the foreseeable future. Microsoft’s Project Service Automation has not only built in views, but also all the information to allow you to see this information across currencies, divisions and locations. Delivered across any device, browser, app or endpoint, PowerBI is the tool to maximize your insight into your service organization’s project performance.

Project Service Automation also serves well as a foundation for our Tribridge Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and other solutions designed and built for IT Consulting Firms, IT Services, Software Companies, Software as a Service Companies and many other related micro-verticals.

Next Steps

In working with Microsoft Project Service for nearly six months now, I’m impressed with the heavy investment, solid product and energy put into the solution. I have been asked by many colleagues:  “Robert, how is this for a version 1?”  My response is: “This is more like a version 3 product.” You can definitely tell that Microsoft dedicated a team of 50+ engineers with deep project service knowledge to produce this robust solution.

Project Service is available now as a solution to add to Microsoft CRM Spring 2016 release. Reach out to us for more information.

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