Tips for Maximizing Billable Hours

Tips for Maximizing Billable Hours

By Chris Brunau

IT businesses often overlook one of the fastest and most effective ways to increase customer satisfaction and profitability: Taking a closer look at efficiency metrics. Technician utilization, service level agreement (SLA) response time and other key performance indicators (KPIs) can help IT firms eliminate redundancy, improve billable hour ratios, and enhance overall business operations.

Unfortunately, the IT Service Provider Benchmarking Study found more than half of respondents rated themselves only average or below when it comes to their ability to gather performance, profitability, and utilization rates across their businesses. Even if they wanted to use their own KPIs to increase efficiency, the data is elusive – or, may not be as comprehensive and up-to-date as it should be.

This leads to challenges in optimizing employees’ billable hours. Respondents reported wasting as many as 20 billable hours per month – time that could be spent generating revenue – to tasks like data entry into multiple systems (66.2%), inability to accurately capture time (61.7%), and maintenance of disparate systems (58.6%). Others reported losing upward of 30 hours per month to these tasks.

However, firms using business management platforms that include professional services automation (PSA) tools report they are better able to eliminate such unnecessary tasks and duplication of effort. Because these platforms create a central repository that includes client and prospect data, service history and SLAs, project status, contracts and compliance, and other essential information, such tools help the firm increase operational efficiency.

In addition, these tools enable automation across business processes. Savvy service desk managers can set up routines that use email parsing to take a client email straight through to ticket creation and staff assignment if they have the right technology in place. Even better, enabling your clients to self-heal for minor issues means your techs spend time on the big projects versus the tedious tasks. Setting up a portal for your client to submit tickets themselves is a big step forward for many organizations. If you have your system set up correctly you can ensure that the right technician is notified and a ticket is created automatically with information about the service level agreement (SLA) response time, billable rate and standard resolution for the problem. This eliminates time wasted trying to connect with the right person or assigning a technician. Additionally, the customer can log on at any time and see the status of the ticket, rather than waiting and wondering whether anyone has received the message and is responding to the problem.

At the end of the day, efficient firms can service twice the customers with the same staff, or simply increase the depth of engagement with a smaller portfolio because automated, repeatable processes allow them to improve every aspect of their business.

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