Automating Your Business: Bringing Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Billing, Time Tracking, Project Management…under one roof

automation-factory.jpgYeah, I know the head line was quite long but these are just some of the many functions you need to manage in a growing business. Most of you have several applications that you use to capture this information but the challenge for your business is not just having raw data, it’s turning this raw data into information and being able to intelligently act on it.

For example, maybe you think you are doing well in bidding on projects but you wouldn’t it be nice for a system to help guide you into WHICH projects were most profitable. Keep in mind a project is not just made up of total money spent vs total money brought in. The PROFIT is made by the overhead and TIME spent on projects. Maybe you have two projects that appear to take the same amount of time and bring in the same income. With a tool that combines sales, accounting, billing, time management and more you can see which project was really more profitable.
Another challenge for small businesses is ensuring that you invoice and are paid for ALL the money you are entitled to. I’m not an expert on finance, but I know getting paid is a common problem for many smaller businesses.
I was recently introduced to a company, QuickArrow, Inc. out of Austin, Texas that provides a pretty interesting solution to keeping track of, managing and having intelligence from the raw data.

QuickArrow COO, Kevin Bury said that “With QuickArrow SMB, they can automate their business at the speed of SaaS to begin making business-critical decisions based on real-time visibility.”
From their press release QuickArrow’s Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution helps services organizations better manage the three things that matter most: people, projects, and performance. Designed to deliver the critical visibility needed to optimize services delivery, QuickArrow’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution fully integrates with leading SFA, CRM, and financial applications, replacing homegrown solutions and labor-intensive spreadsheets to automate workflows and streamline operations.
QuickArrow customer Entelligence, had three main problems:

  • Lack of visibility resulted in money lost on deals they thought were profitable and poor resource scheduling led to unpredictable utilization.
  • Managing their business on spreadsheets, they did not have consistent methodologies for tracking Sales, SOW generation, engagements, time and expense, etc.
  • They had no single repository for customer data, no tool for Change Management, and no accurate tool to help with forecasting.

After using QuickArrow, Entelligence had the following results:

  • Improved visibility into all resource practice areas has led to a 9% increase in utilization and a 12% increase in gross margin.
  • Billing and Expense capture is now at 100%, increasing the accuracy of monthly revenue forecasts from 90% to 98%.
  • Reduced billing cycle resulted in a decrease in DSO of several days and enabled rapid organizational growth without the need to hire additional administrative personnel.

This area of small business automation is a bit complicated and although IS for every business every business might not be ready for such a system.
I was recently at an Infusion CRM conference and their system bills itself as automated marketing and would probably compete head on with QuickArrow. NetBooks and NetSuite, offer an integrated, everything and the kitchen sink suite of services as well. Whichever service you use, it’s important that it links to and can get data in and out of core products you might already use such as QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree or Microsoft Accounting and Microsoft Outlook.