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How to implement a cloud-based Service Resource Planning (SRP) System

When Keystone Data signed up as a NetSuite solution provider, one reason for our interest was the extensive range of functionality it offered. This includes a whole suit of modules ideal for a professional services company.

NetSuite’s SRP provides modules covering support, projects, daily/hourly rate charged services and services sold at a fixed rate (e.g. training courses). It also allows for the management of a range of resources: full and part-time employed, consultants or others used by the day/hour or for a specific task, customer resources and supplier resources.

Part of our early plans were to use NetSuite’s SRP within our own business. But we were a small company with lots to learn about NetSuite and winning new clients who we had to service. Therefore we decided to ease our way into the SRP functionality implementing modules as we saw value in doing so and had the time needed to learn the detailed functionality, make company decisions about how best to implement them and actually implement them.

As our business developed we found ourselves starting a couple of projects before we had fully determined how to use the project software but having won a couple of support-type contracts needed to implement the support side first coupled with time recording for these services. Our services included time based, fixed price and monthly support contracts, so we used the support system to record and manage all these demands and the time recording system to record time spent on them.

Our next area was projects: having implemented four projects without using NetSuite’s project software and felt both more confident in using it and more sure that it would improve our project processes. We decided that our first stage would be to include only the features necessary to record project tasks and timescales from the initial plan through to the actual completion stage and for projects of at least ten days.

We included the use of project templates for NetSuite implementations which are adjusted to meet the needs of each individual project. We also decided to record time for all our internal resources (and any consultants or developers used on a time and a material basis) but not record the actual time taken by any fixed price outsourced elements or client time. All those tasks are recorded and progress marked in order to manage the projects.

At this stage we therefore are able to record the initial project plan, make changes to the plan, record the progress of each task and the amount of time we have spent on each task.

We decided to implement the features that allows projects to be created from service items billing, project estimating and costing (job costing), budgeting and resource planning at later stages once we had fully embedded the basic projects features.

From our experience, we would recommend to clients that when implementing SRP, they consider carefully which modules and features give value and can be implemented first based upon the needs and resources of the organisation. It is easier to add new modules and features to a successfully embedded system than to try and implement a full complex SRP system before service personnel having fully bought in to the basics. Until all services, projects and resources are being recorded reliably, any attempts to use dubious data to resource plan will meet with disaster.