8 steps for cutting the flab out of your MSP’s work processes
If your team is losing head count, it’s easy to panic and worry that it will be impossible to deliver the same level of services to your current clients or to keep up when you add new ones. If the work seemed chaotic when you were doing it with a larger staff, it’s easy to fear that budget cuts, departures, and a reluctance to immediately replace departing colleagues is going to wreak havoc on the remaining team members.
But adversity can be a great teacher. The trick is to learn what it’s trying to teach you.
What if you were to wipe out work people don’t enjoy, you can’t bill for, and that doesn’t serve customers? How about if you had a machine intelligence to ferret out and prevent time-consuming, deadline-destroying disasters. What if you could eliminate hours of emailing, following up, dropped balls, and circling back?
Without all that flab, you could easily do more with less. Your projects would go smoothly, customers would be happy, and, when the budget recovers, you’ll be ready to channel this lesson into profits.
Step 1: Perfect Project
The Perfect Project integration for ConnectWise PSA can bring automation and efficiency to your systems while slicing out hours of data entry and project management drudgery.
Start by connecting Perfect Project to ConnectWise. Then easily import your projects from ConnectWise into this AI-powered work management system. This bidirectional integration connects everyone’s calendars, your CRM, accounting software, ConnectWise tickets, phases, and more. It converts tickets into tasks, brings in data about team members and other resources, and lets you set durations and dependencies for all your tasks.
Step 2: Let the AI calculate the critical path.
Putting any complex project plan on a critical path is a project management best practice for good reason. Knowing the actual timeline – with dependencies, durations, and delays accurately calculated – is the only way to identify a realistic completion date. And when you can easily see – called out on the critical path – the tickets that are critical to the timeline, what’s in the way of accomplishing them, and how to unblock them, your chances of meeting deadlines go way up.
Calculating a critical path, though, requires a significant amount of time and skill. It’s a complex set of calculations that need to be done anytime granular detail informs the project, schedules change, tickets are completed, or deadlines are missed.
The built-in artificial intelligence in Perfect Project does these calculations for you. And it does them constantly, keeping the critical path continuously updated.
Step 3: Debug your plan
After setting up the critical path, Perfect Project will debug your plan.
It checks it against 18 data quality factors and project management best practices so that you are never working from a plan with critical mistakes or oversights embedded into it. Are the ticket durations correct? Do the dependencies add up? Are dates plausible? Are milestones or anything on the critical path in danger?
Again, it does this fine-tooth-comb repair work anytime anything anywhere in the plan changes.
And best of all, when you fix what’s broken in your project plan in Perfect Project – invalid ticket dates, for example – those dates are fixed in ConnectWise.
Step 4: Keep an eye on the ball with the RPAX score
Getting this kind of clarity on a project is laborious work for a project manager, which is why it doesn’t get done often enough. Instead of spending hours updating and calculating the plan, you can glance at the RPAX score in Perfect Project to get an instant read on the health of your plan.
If the project’s score slips out of the green and into orange – or worse – red, you can drill down to find out why, exposing the obstacles to critical tickets so your PMs can focus on clearing the stumbling blocks that are most important.
Step 5: Quickly balance the workload across teams and projects
If the reason your RPAX score is headed toward the red is that someone is over-scheduled and unlikely to accomplish everything on their plate – thus putting the ticket completion or a dependency in jeopardy – you can use the real-time resource management tool to see who else – with similar skills – is available to help.
The resource management tool shows you accurate, up-to-the minute work allocations – across all projects – so you don’t let one team member idle while another struggles to keep up. You can redistribute work, right from Perfect Project, getting a handshake confirmation in the tool from everyone involved.
Step 6: Help PMs learn as they work
Not everyone managing projects are professional project managers. Sometimes your best PMs are people who know the technical side of your work, have the social skills to communicate the teams’ needs, and have stepped up to keep projects moving. Those people might struggle, though, with project management best practices.
There is a smart, though artificial, project planning coach built right into Perfect Project, with nothing to do but teach, explain, and guide your people on project management strategies and skills. This sort of micro-learning – in the project – makes it easy to get up to speed without taking time off for classes.
Step 7: Bring clients into the fold
Emailing clients, following up on signatures, getting customers to bring deliverables to the table, and circling back and doing it all again when emails get ignored or overlooked is a heavy load for your team.
Give clients access to the project tickets you need them to address, get a digital handshake right within the project (allowing Perfect Project to do all the nudging and following up), chat with clients within the tool, and lift the load of managing client deliverables off your team. You will have better clarity, and no one will spend their days writing emails.
You choose how much access a client gets to internal data. Show them only the tickets or dashboards you want them to see – and keep your communications siloed from the rest of the plan.
Inviting clients into Perfect Project saves your team from having time-consuming – and often difficult –conversations with clients while increasing customer satisfaction and customer satisfaction scores.
Step 8: Watch your processes improve
The more you use Perfect Project for ConnectWise the better your processes – with a clear critical path, repeatable plans, templates, and visibility into real work time and project ticket completion data – will become. It will put you on a path to continuously improve your processes while giving you the data you need to demonstrate to yourself – and others – how and when the work gets done.
Not only will leaner, cleaner management of project plans, time, and resources help you get more done with fewer people, those people will be happier about the work they are doing!