Sun Branding

Sun Branding Solutions have signed up with Keystone Data and NetSuite

Sun Branding Solutions http://www.sunbrandingsolutions.com/, a subsidiary of Sun Chemicals, have chosen Keystone Data to help them implement NetSuite and streamline their administrative processes.

Sun Branding Solutions delivers services across the entire packaging launch process for your brands, from concept and creative design through to artwork, pre-press and legal sign-off. It is based in Bradford Yorkshire with subsidiaries in London and India.

NetSuite Advanced Financials and OneWorld will replace a number of different products and internally developed software to provide a common fully integrated solution and provide a number of benefits:

  • Reduced administration
  • Increased accuracy
  • Standardisation of procedures
  • Process improvement
  • Improved reporting

Keystone Data will work with Sun Branding staff to maximise the benefits from using NetSuite.

We are delighted to have this opportunity of working with Sun Branding Solutions We very much look forward to the project and an on-going relationship.

Keystone Data - Email Case Management Process w. Decisions & Pending

Defining your Customer Case Management and Support Process

As a software implementation and development company, we provide high level support to a wide range of companies. Along the way we have refined our process to meet our customer’s and our own needs. Practically speaking, it’s important your Support system provides the best Customer Service for your customers and the upmost visibility for your company too. A truly formalised process is the best way to create a structure that ensures a case is cared for throughout its lifecycle.

After implementing Support processes for ourselves and our customers, we thought it best to share some of the aspects we think many businesses should strive for.

Some Best Practices

Effective Logging

The best way to set the ship sailing in the wrong direction is by ineffectively or barely logging customer issues. The bare necessities should be a Contact, Problem Description, Unique Case Number and the Date and Time it was received. “Obviously” I hear you say, but without a formalised Case Capture form it can be very easy to simply trust yourself to remember. The ITIL model for Service Management suggests this is the role for a Service Desk. A single point of entry to ensure communication is streamlined and the case recipient’s first priority is to effectively log and manage the problem.

Could the first contact Support User take charge of the Case to manage it to completion? This can sometimes be a good way to ensure the case is chased once escalated.

Of course this doesn’t have to be a manual process, on systems like NetSuite, Cases or Tickets can be captured from customised Online Forms. This has always been a great way for grooming customer’s queries, with mandatory fields like “Nature of Enquiry” acting as a filter to route Cases in your Support System. If Cases can be classified before they are added to a Case list, the Case list is infinitely more manageable.

 

 

We also believe a Support system should share the same database as your Customer Records, not only to link Cases to Customers, but to provide your Support Agents with the information they need to provide comprehensive support. But even more than that, in a system like NetSuite, a Customer’s Service Level Agreement could automatically set a Case’s Priority or Due Date.

Responding

First of all, we would suggest the first response is a confirmation of query receipt. For emails this is a simple automated email, but phone queries are often neglected. We’d suggest logging all phone calls as queries, however appreciate this isn’t always logical or practical. However if the query requires more investigation or cannot be handled with a first contact resolution, an email detailing the conversation is a great way to leave an open line of communication with the customer and record the query for memory on your side too.

Secondly, we’d suggest growing your Knowledge Base by encouraging your Support Agents and Technical Staff to constantly contribute to it. In a basic sense, Knowledge Bases can often offer standard responses, but could also be extended memos so that the exhaustive research that went into a great response doesn’t disappear into the realms of Closed Cases. Arranged into topics, you can give your Support Team their own, industry-specific Encyclopaedia if done properly. (There is always a chance this could be shared with your customers too!)

Could the first contact Support User take charge of the Case to manage it to completion? This can sometimes be a good way to ensure the case is chased once escalated.

Are you ready to close the Case? If yes, it’s worth updating the customer of this status change too. More than anything, this communication ensures avoiding any skeletons in the closet appearing when a customer expected a response that never came. Generally speaking, it’s difficult to ever over-communicate but much easier to under-communicate!

Time Tracking

Not just for your benefit, Time Tracking can be a great help for the customer when managing their Service Level Agreement. The logic behind Time Tracking if you charge for Support Time is simple, but it’s also a great way to view where time is being exhausted. Seeing how much is spent on individual customers can be an enlightening experience, for example.

Reporting

As a smaller enterprise it can often be difficult to see how you’re doing when it comes to Support. A huge part of this reporting is using a system that uses assessable processes and has visual reporting capabilities. Thanks to NetSuite, we are able to access a huge range of visual reports such as: Service Response Times, Cases by Customer, Resolutions by Employee and many more.

Analytics shouldn’t just be reserved for the Sales side of things though. Does a persistent Customer need a more appropriate SLA? Do the Support Team need more training on a particular Product Group with questions slowing down response times? It’s often easy to think of Support as an open and closed activity, but often a lot can be taken from delving into the detail.

In Practice | Email Case Management

Case Management is often a difficult process to map out, with Case requirements varying vastly and Support being delivered by employees who have other primary functions. These difficulties apply to Keystone Data too, and in response we all try to work to a Support process that is time-efficient, promotes visibility and comprehensive for the customer.

The diagram below details out a general, simple Email Case process that we would frequently implement for our customers. Defining your own process is a great start for implementing a SaaS, but also for helping analyse and improve the process itself. In this example we are able to show a first contact response (in white), an escalated response (in grey) and how a Case can be reopened by a customer and start the cycle again.

Keystone Data’s Email Case Management Process | Manual process are defined with a solid grey line and automated processes with a dotted teal line. NetSuite processes are defined in Navy, standard Support steps in Teal, 1st contact responses in White and escalated steps in Grey.

Keystone Data are a NetSuite implementation specialist, for more information on Case Management or implementing Support for your company please get in touch.

keystonedata-reg

Three new clients

Over the last few months we have won business with three new clients.

 

Lloyd & Barnes based in Cwmbran are an insurance advisor for whom we are developing a front end to NetSuite to handle their insurance brokerage business.

 

Thames Distribution based near Reading are a distributor of electronic parts and equipment for whom we have provided a tailored link between their invoices and email.

 

Abacus Direct based in Harrogate are a manufacturer and distributor of bathroom and heating products who have appointed Keystone Data to redesign and build their websites linking them to their new NetSuite implementation.

Update for Service Industries

2015.2 for Service Industries

A number of key enhancements have been made that are of relevance to various Service Industries and in particular to Software Companies.

Enhanced resource allocations

With the Resource Allocations feature, you can now allocate resources directly to project tasks. Previously, project resources were first allocated to the project and then assigned to individual tasks.

For each project, it is recommended that you choose to either to allocate resources directly to project tasks or allocate resources to the project and then assign to project tasks. Using both resource allocations to project tasks and task assignments can create inconsistencies in your project data.

Resources allocated to individual tasks can track time against those project tasks. If an allocation is deleted, the resource is no longer able to track any additional time against those project tasks.

There are also two new fields on both project and project task records—Allocated Work and Percent Complete by Allocated Work. The Allocated Work field displays the total number of hours allocated to the task and the project. The Percent Complete by Allocated Work field displays the progress of the project based on the allocated resources. This field can be useful in showing when projects require more effort than was originally planned.

Charge-Based Billing Enhancements

The following improvements have been made to the Charge-Based Billing feature.

  • Billing Caps for Split Time
  • New Employee Field on Charges
  • Recurring Fixed Date Charge Rules

Billing Caps for Split Time

Time-based charge rules can now split time transactions when fulfilling billing caps. Previously, a time-based billing cap required the exact amount to be tracked to fulfil a billing cap.

Billing caps for time-based rules are honoured and do not require an exact match from time transactions.

For example, you create a time-based charge rule with a billing cap of 10 hours. Your project resource tracks eight hours and six hours toward the project on two consecutive days. When you generate charges, the rule will generate charges for the eight hours plus two additional hours from the second day. The remaining four hours from the second day are listed on the time transaction as remaining time. If additional time-based rules are used to generate charges, the remaining four hours will be used to fulfil any new rules.

When a time transaction has time remaining or generates charges from multiple rules, a new Charges subtab is displayed with a list of the corresponding charges.

New Employee Field on Charges

For time-based and expense-based charges, an Employee field is now available on charge records. The Employee field automatically shows the employee generating the time or expense transaction. The Memo field is also automatically populated from the corresponding time entry or expense line generating the charge.

Recurring Fixed Date Charge Rules

You can now set a recurrence schedule for fixed date charge rules. When creating a new fixed date rule, you can select to have the rule be a single, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly event. Within each selection there are additional choices you can make to define the recurrence schedule.

You can also set both a start and end date for the series. Previously, the Date field was required when creating a fixed date rule. Now, the Date field has been replaced by the Series Start Date field. Any scripts or workflows utilizing the Date field will be transferred to the Series Start Date field.

When generating a forecast for a recurring fixed date charge rule without an end date, NetSuite includes each occurrence through the end date of the project plus one occurrence. When generating actual charges for a recurring fixed date charge rule without an end date, NetSuite continues to generate charges as long as the project is active.

After charges have been generated, a recurring charge rule can no longer be edited. You may inactivate a recurring charge rule if it is no longer necessary. To inactive a charge rule, click Inactivate at the top of the charge rule record. When you inactivate a recurring charge rule, all forecast charges based on the rule are deleted and the Inactive box appears checked on the charge rule record. You may reactivate an inactive recurring charge rule by clicking Activate at the top of the charge rule record.

Recurring Billing Enhancements

NetSuite Version 2015 Release 2 includes a number of enhancements to the Recurring Billing SuiteApp, which of particular use by service organisations who offer services with complex recurring charges.

Multi-Queue Support for Recurring Billing Batch Processes

This is introduced to improve the performance of these processes. In Recurring Billing version 15.2, the charge creation and subscription creation processes are enhanced to support multi-queue implementation.

Billing forecast reports

Enhancement to standard billing forecast reports include:

  • Customer and Subscription fields are added as additional filters for the report.
  • Group by Primary Subscription Item and Group by Secondary Subscription Item are added to the report display options.
  • The Billing Forecast report is generated in PDF file format.
  • An option to save an XML file of the generated report is available

Rollback Bill Date

The new Rollback Bill Date feature enables the rollback of bill dates of subscriptions that when the billing needs to be redone. These rollbacks can be performed by mass update or by clicking the Rollback Bill Date button on the subscription record.

 

Comparison NetSuite Project Mgt

Comparison NetSuite project management with other products

The attached table is based upon various information available on the web from which I have derived a simple comparison of NetSuite’s project management software with that from Microsoft, SAP and two leading project management solutions.

NetSuite Ms Project Ms SharePoint Server Clarizen Mavenlink SAP Business by Design
Collaborative software yes no yes yes yes yes
Issue tracking yes no yes yes no yes
scheduling yes yes yes yes yes yes
project portfolio management yes no no yes yes yes
resource management yes yes no yes yes yes
document management no no yes yes yes yes
workflow yes no yes yes no yes
reporting and analysis yes yes no yes no yes
budget management yes yes no yes yes yes
time tracking yes yes no yes yes yes
invoicing yes no no no yes yes

 

Note that document management integrated with NetSuite is available as SuiteApps from third party products such as goVirtualDOCs and DocuPeak for NetSuite.

businessman hand working with new modern computer and business s

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.