Q&A with CEO of Tandel Systems – The Evolution of Professional Services Automation in the Cloud

Pablo Santa Cruz, CFO/COO of Tandel Systems, discusses how conversations between his growing Florida-based engineering services firm and Concerto Cloud Services™ about implementing Microsoft Dynamics®  ERP resulted in Tandel becoming the first customer for Concerto PSA, an exciting and innovative new professional services automation solution in the cloud.

Q: Tandel is a subcontractor serving the Aerospace and defense industries.  How does a professional services automation (PSA) system help your business?

A: We view PSA as the glue that holds engineering projects together. Tandel’s vision is to be the most sought after engineering firm in our industry offering both engineering services and solutions. On the engineering services side, half of our engineers work onsite with the prime contractor; essentially we provide staff augmentation where the customer sets project deadlines, etc. The other half of our engineers work on solutions — independently driving and managing specific engineering projects on behalf of our customers. Whether it’s a service or solution project, we need an integrated PSA system that enables us to communicate, collaborate and report with the customer — no matter what size of project or customer.

Q: How did you decide on Concerto PSA?

A: Tandel has talked about having an integrated PSA solution for about five years, but we couldn’t fully commit to such a complex project. We contacted [Concerto Cloud Services’ parent company] Tribridge to work with us on an onsite Microsoft Dynamics-based ERP system and during those discussions last summer they brought up the idea of a cloud-based  PSA during our consultation. That’s when we knew Concerto PSA was exactly what we were looking for.

Q: Did you look at any of Concerto Cloud Services’ competitors?

A: Yes, we did our research on all of the “best in class” PSA solutions available. Some are strong on the accounting side of professional services automation, some are strong on managing a project’s work breakdown structure (WBS), but none of them were strong in everything. Here at Tandel, none of our engineers have a problem creating a Gantt chart or P&L. What we struggled with is: “How can we do all of this PSA with a holistic, integrated solution?”

Q: It sounds like you found good applications for pieces of the puzzle, but none that were unifed and integrated from end-to-end?

A: Correct. PSA is simple in theory but in practice it’s not. A lot of people in this industry [that need an integrated PSA solution] have good ideas how it should be done — in theory. But Concerto makes an integrated PSA practical. At one point, we tried to build our own integrated PSA solution and failed. The core of a good PSA solution is a business process workflow. Our strength at Tandel is low-level engineering; our flow charts are legendary for being so thorough and detailed. But our engineering strengths were too different than what’s needed to build an integrated PSA solution; there’s a big difference between a flow chart and a workflow. That’s why we made the strategic decision to go with the Concerto PSA solution.

Q: How was Concerto PSA strategically important to Tandel?

A: We view Concerto PSA as the glue that holds together our communication, collaborations and reporting for our customers’ projects. Our vision is to build a $100 million business by 2015. One of the ways that we’re going to grow to that size is through acquisitions. For a company to grow, it’s critical for the company to have not just a culture of growth, but also the infrastructure and business processes enabling the company to grow. Concerto Cloud Services provides our business with the infrastructure and processes to scale up — and scale up dramatically. For example, when Tandel acquires a new company, we’ll use that cloud-based infrastructure to quickly onboard all of the newly acquired employees with standardized business processes and procedures.

Q: From a tactical, near-term standpoint, how will Concerto PSA make things easier for Tandel’s customers?

A: The efficiency of the solution at a project level helps both our customers and our engineers. Concerto PSA integrates our sales, project management and accounting processes and workflows to be more streamlined and provide instant reporting for any project. The customers we have — Boeing, GE, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin — trust us because we communicate, collaborate and report better than anyone. The efficiency gains we get from an integrated, on demand cloud PSA solution from Concerto are powerful. When customers ask for a project status, we won’t tell them “you’ll get it next week” or “let me get back to you on that” because it will be instantaneous.

Q: How will Concrto PSA specifically change your business processes for accounting, CRM and timesheets?

A: In the past, we used Peachtree for accounting but found it was limited. We needed our accounts segregated by pools but it’s a hassle in Peachtree. Concerto PSA gave us more flexibility to do exactly what we wanted for the accounts at the onset and it saves a significant amount of time. The CRM component is a major part of our growth strategy. It helps manage our opportunity pipeline and converts a good meeting discussion into a paying project. And when an opportunity turns into a project, we’ll have a WBS attached to tasks and cost breakdowns — and the integrated time entry to track it all.

Q: what number would you put on the performance gains you expect to see from moving to Concerto PSA?

A: That’s a good question. You know, I knew that I had to move these operations into the cloud to meet Tandel’s goals. As an entrepreneur, you have to look at it that way. Without Concerto PSA, we wouldn’t and couldn’t do the things that our company needs to do to grow. It’s not a matter of saving X amount  of dollars in the short term because that’s not really our goal.

Q: What's the one key takeaway you want a CEO of a company that you want to partner with to remember about the Tandel/Concerto cloud migration project after they see this case study?

A: As an engineering firm, Tandel's fundamentals are operational efficiency and business development excellence. Our move to the cloud with Concerto PSA is the medium we'll use to deliver on those fundamentals to add value and help generate revenues for all of our customers.