As a business we are always thinking of new ways to influence our clients, be that through knowledge of the tools and services or through case studies. Leading by example helps our clients to see the possibilities that lie ahead with the tools and technology we are providing, but it also allows us to counter any challenges we may come across and in turn allows us to equip the client with better knowledge. For example, when setting up Microsoft Teams internally, we initially allowed anyone to create the teams which resulted in us having to restrict permissions to that feature, meaning only our support team can create them. This now works much better and it is good knowledge to pass onto our clients when they are deciding how to set up Teams.
Demonstrating how we use the tools that we promote to our clients shows our knowledge of the products, but most importantly, is the best way to lead by example. Last year (2019) we upgraded our internal Dynamics365 systems, which allowed us to work with more automation. I was heavily involved in the upgrade of our internal booking and project management system, moving from CRM to Project Service Automation (PSA). One of the more useful features of PSA for our consultants was ‘Manage projects and bookings in your calendar’, this allowed bookings that had been created in our system to sync across to the consultants Outlook calendars. Although they only synced for the upcoming 4 weeks, it was still handy for the consultants to view on the go in their Outlook calendar. In a version update around the end of September, it became apparent that this feature had been deprecated by Microsoft, meaning that is was no longer available to use so bookings were not showing up in Outlook calendars.
After confirming that this feature would not be returning in a future version update, we focussed on finding the best tool to use to get the information to the consultants in a simple and clear view. The obvious answer was some form of dashboard, meaning that PowerBi was our first point of call. I worked on pulling through all of the confirmed bookings from PSA into a view, as this avoids complication of unconfirmed bookings moving around. However, as we were making a view for their client bookings, it made sense to also add in their internal bookings so they can see that their annual leave and development time has been booked. We had been made aware that the limitation of only seeing the upcoming 4 weeks of work was proving tricky for most consultants, so we included a date slicer which allows consultants to view any time period of their bookings, i.e. ‘Last Month’, ‘This Week’, ‘Next 3 Months’ etc.
The report had to be as easy as possible for the consultants to view whether they were at home or on the move, so PowerBi is a great choice for this as it adjusts the view depending if it is on a computer or phone. It also allows you to set up security roles, which means you can set it so only certain people can view specific parts of the report. In our case, we used the roles so that when a consultant opens the report, they can only see their bookings, and no others. Although, there is also a role set up for managers, so they can see all bookings and filter down to specific individuals in their team. The report then simply shows the dates booked and project details, such as the project code, address and the client, but also shows blank dates to empower the consultant to then try and drive up their utilisation.
This is just one of the many ways that, as a business, we have used the tools we promote to our clients to benefit ourselves internally. We can then use our examples when speaking to our clients, whether they are currently using the tools, in the process of moving to them, or just considering which one would suit them best as a business. Because our example, has a powerful influence, and our shared experiences will help to influence the client’s decisions, especially when trying to decide between different tools.