It can be challenging to find a software platform that caters to your business needs.
Here, we’ll explore four key components of great client work management software that you should prioritize in the vetting process.
Streamlined Project and Task Management
Effective project management and task management are core functionalities of client work software. Yet, the way these work can vary quite a lot depending on the interface and power of a given platform.
At a minimum, you should look for the following features:
- Collaboration tools: Your team should be able to access and centrally discuss assignments, priority levels and project milestones. But they also need to be able to review what’s taken place with a client’s account so far. A platform with a unique feed like Accelo’s Activity Stream reduces the amount of internal email and prevents details from being overlooked.
- Multiple project views: A truly user-friendly platform will display what you need to see in the way you prefer to see it. Whether you like Kanban boards, Gantt charts, lists or calendars, check on the options available in each software you consider.
- Simple task assignment and reassignment: The seemingly simple job of properly assigning tasks with dependencies, and reassigning as necessary, can become overwhelming without the right tools. When task tracking is automated and built into your client work platform, your team can focus on more efficiently generating deliverables.
- Task filters: Sometimes, you need to review tasks assigned to a particular person; other times it’s important to be able to see just overdue tasks. Client work software with a flexible task management component will allow you to filter by deadline, status or assignee.
Robust Time Tracking and Resource Allocation
Accurate time tracking and smart resource management are essential for optimizing productivity and maximizing profitability. These are not just nice-to-have features of client work software — they’re key for uniting the stages of your client journey.
Here are four elements you need to manage resources optimally:
- Built-in timers: Look for software that offers an easy alternative to manual timesheets, which are error-prone and cumbersome. Ideally, your team will be able to log hours against specific tasks and activities to ensure that you’re billing clients for precisely the amount of work you’ve completed.
- Capacity planning: You need to calculate employee utilization, but even more important is the ability to use those calculations to plan for future resourcing. Matching up your team availability and utilization with upcoming projects helps you make wise decisions about assignments and hiring.
- Schedule dashboard: Proper team scheduling is difficult if you don’t have a bird’s eye view of your entire team. A good software platform should include tools like a schedule dashboard that empower you to avoid overbooking, plan for time off and prevent burnout. Ultimately, paying careful attention to scheduling helps you hold on to your top talent.
- Skill tracking: People are properly resourced when both time and type of work are accounted for. But it can be overwhelming to have a true sense of the skillsets you have at your disposal at any given time. Track skills in a client work management platform to incorporate this critical factor into your resource management practices.
READ NEXT: The Magic of Time Tracking When Resources Are Limited
Effective Client Communication
Smooth client communication is as vital as outstanding service delivery. You need simple, efficient ways to stay in touch with your clients that don’t take away from your team’s focus on project work.
Evaluate a potential platform based on its ability to provide:
- Billing visibility: Your clients want and deserve to know how much they’re being charged and why. Instead of sending invoices via email, you can make provide access to their entire billing history in one place — if your software includes a convenient client portal.
- Document sharing: Just like invoices, pertinent documents can be tough to track over time when you send them individually. Instead, you need a space for them to live and be accessible to the right people when they need them. This includes contracts, company policies, new work orders and project deliverables.
- Email sync: Siloed conversations with clients become problematic when one of your team members is out of the office. You can solve this — and minimize unnecessary internal check-ins — by implementing a platform that offers visibility to everyone via email syncing.
- Request management: To be as responsive as possible to all kinds of client requests, you need an easy request submission form and a shared inbox. Furthermore, you need an easy way for those requests to be prioritized and turned into sales, tickets or projects as needed.
Comprehensive Reporting and Analytics
Data-driven insights are the fuel for better business processes. Up your business intelligence game with a platform that pulls all of your essential data from sales, projects, requests, invoices, time logs and more into helpful reports automatically.
Look for a platform that offers:
- Automation: Reporting is an important function of a client-facing business, but it can be incredibly time-consuming. You could turn all of the non-billable time you spend on reports into billable hours by replacing your spreadsheet-driven process with an automated reporting solution.
- Dashboards: Numbers are more meaningful when they’re presented in a way that makes sense. While dashboards are a common feature of many platforms today, they don’t always display the exact information you need. As you vet solutions, carefully examine the type of data those dashboards show.
- Integrations: Depending on the type of business you run and how you need to present information to stakeholders, you may need analytics to be shared with another platform. Don’t forget to investigate a software’s list of native integrations and whether it offers an open API for custom integrations.
- Real-time metrics: Yesterday’s data is limiting. Instead, you need to understand what’s happening in your business right now. Thus, you should seek a software solution that’s capable of generating the numbers that matter for your KPIs without your manual effort.
Accelo: The Only Client Work Software You Need
We like to save people time, even before they become Accelo users. You don’t have to spend hours looking for a platform that perfectly matches all of the above capabilities; we’ve got just the solution for you.
Explore all six Accelo modules to see why it’s the top choice for service businesses like agencies and consulting firms.