Knowing what you’ve got, what you’ve had, and what you’ll need has always been important. Genghis Khan knew this. His empire expanded specifically because he knew about consumption and usage. And this is something that COOs in IT Services can take some inspiration from. Of course, it might not seem like these two scenarios are remotely from the same planet, let alone similar principles. But they have striking similarities, so we’ve written this article to give you a little relief and let you know you aren’t alone. Usage and consumption is probably one of your biggest challenges- fortunately it can be overcome. Ready to find out how? Genghis Khan: More of a Boss than Springsteen Genghis had an innate understanding that an army could only be strong if he knew what it needed. Specifically, what was consumed and what would need to be consumed to sustain his conquests. In the 13th century, information wasn’t exactly in real time. So he needed the next best thing – information on logistics and how much the army would need to consume flowing back as fast and accurately as possible. By knowing his army’s consumption rates, he could accurately forecast what he would need. For example, what helped him destroy the Khwarazmian Empire was knowing the usage. Going from what his soldiers used in the past, combined with the challenging terrain they were facing, Khan anticipated they would need additional horses. So he made sure they all had the fresh horses they needed when they needed them. Your information challenges as an IT Services COO The grand irony is that 700 years later, you probably haven’t been given the tools you need to know your customers’ consumption rates and how much they might need going forward. Everything changes so fast in the IT industry (that’s something you have over Genghis!) but information still reigns supreme. Customers have complex needs and demands, which makes it hard if not impossible for you to have any accurate idea of how much they’re consuming at any given time. Where does this lack of knowledge come from? Here are some of the main causes: Changing project requirements: The scope of IT projects changes all the time, which means that it’s hard to track resource consumption. As project requirements evolve, you can struggle to best predict and allocate your resources. Unclear billing guidelines: When there’s no clarity, there’s inconsistency and vagueness. No one knows for sure what can be billed and what can’t, so you’re left unsure how to bill customers with accuracy. Inadequate time tracking: Traditional time tracking systems can’t generally capture all the billable activities and the correct number of hours allocated and used. That means gaps and mistakes in total hourly consumption data. Distributed workforce: Teams can be spread across regions, countries, and even time zones. Things get outsourced. The more loose ends there are in the recording and billing process, the more likely things will be missed and mistakes will be made. No matter what causes you’re faced with, it still leads to the same thing. A nightmare. But if we’re talking specifics, do any of these repercussions for you and your company sound familiar: Chaotic resource allocation: Resources start to be allocated inefficiently which means delays, cost overruns, underutilization or overutilization of the resources you have left. Project timelines can be pushed back, and profitability pulled down. Inadequate project strategy and planning: When you don’t have the data, you can’t estimate your project timelines, the resources you need, and any bottlenecks that might come up. Bad planning makes it impossible for you to meet deadlines and deliver projects on time. Unhappy customers who leave: Both inaccurate bills and delayed service delivery makes customers run for the hills. Why wouldn’t they – your competition offers a much more pleasant experience. They need things brought in fast and on budget and when you don’t deliver, they hurt your reputation too. Less revenue: The underbilling from inaccurate estimates and errors in consumption recording means you could be haemorrhaging money. Overworked staff: Teams trying to keep up using legacy systems get exhausted. They make mistakes. They want to leave themselves. None of these outcomes are good. You crumble: You might be the strongest, toughest person in your organization. But you’re still human, and when you’re forced to act in impossible, unsupported circumstances, it’s going to take a toll whether it’s serious stress, sleepless nights, worry, ulcers, or something else. Long story short, you shouldn’t have to deal with this problem. Genghis Khan didn’t worry about going to his C-Suite and board having to explain why the army’s lack of that really tasty Mongolian bbq or heavy-duty multi-use weapons cost him a battle. But you do. You have to walk into the boardroom and catch the heat. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to it all that clears away both the causes and impacts of not knowing the consumption and billable hours of your customers. It’s not hiring Genghis Khan, btw. But it does have to do with copying what he did. The Solution: Automation to the Rescue When you have a powerful problem, you need a powerful solution. So why not pull a Genghis and take advantage of the most cutting-edge accurate information systems that are available? Bringing in an end-to-end solution that handles consumption and billing will make your life so much easier. Real-time tracking: Hours are captured and recorded, which will automatically log hours and give up up-to-date information on where to put the resources. It cuts down on errors and creates accurate billing. Task and project monitoring: Individual tasks and projects are tracked, which assigns time entries to deliverables. This means a better breakdown of actual consumed hours. Working hand-in-hand with CRM: Because automation pulls time tracking and CRM, that means a seamless customer interactions, service requests, etc. You can link customer-specific activities to their consumption hours. Automated invoicing: This is one of the most popular advantages! Invoices are automatically created applying the right rates. Then they are collected and reconciled without any further action from the revenue team. Data analytics and reporting: Automation brings the tools that crunch the data and give comprehensive analytics and reporting. The result? Insights into resource utilization trends, specifics about your company and customer reach, and inefficiencies. It also gives you planning and forecasts. This means you can make the best decisions on your pricing and resource allocation so operations are optimized and profits improved. Real-Time data capture: There’s no point in having data if you can’t access it when you need it. With automation, your systems capture and track resource consumption in real-time and without manual entry errors. You’ll know where you are at any given time. Resource optimization: Automation keeps track of your resource utilization so you can minimize waste, get excellent visibility into you resource availability and requirements. Enhanced team efficiency: Automation helps your teams by streamlining workflows, eliminating most of the day-to-day repetitive tasks, cuts administrative burdens, tears down silos between teams, and saves hundreds to thousands of hours a year. They have the time to work on value-adding activities. Happy customers: Customers won’t have to deal with delays in service thanks to inefficient resource allocation. And they definitely won’t have mistake-ridden invoices. This means they’re far more likely to be happy and stick with your company! Imagine your operations practically running themselves. Imagine knowing your operations are firing on all cylinders with no additional effort, no sleepless nights, and no endless stress. Genghis’ Consumption Data Can Be Yours Genghis Khan’s amazing success directly relied on how much he knew about consumed resources, past, present and future. The grand irony is that hundreds of years later, you as a COO face complexities in legacy systems that make it hard to get the same level of accuracy. Fortunately automation can change everything for you with the proverbial flick of a switch. Though you won’t get info on how many horses are needed for battle, you will get all the real-time information that you need for your operations. By leveraging automation technology at your fingertips, you can bridge the gap between historical excellence and the modern IT demands of the digital age, delivering operational excellence and driving success for you and your company. Bluefort’s end-to-end subscription platform simplifies challenges like tracking consumption, ensuring COOs like you can lead with confidence. Ready to transform your business? Schedule a Free Discovery Call today. Step out of the black hole and into clarity. Let's chat! More Bluefort insights... 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