How SaaS Helps the Channel Help Itself
Solution Provider Boosts Business by Using SaaS Application Internally
Solution providers seeking to ramp up their business might want to copy what DCC Services did last year: Use software as a service (SaaS) in-house to better capture billable time, manage projects and resources, and invoice customers.
Houston-based Oracle specialist DCC, which has more than 140 clients ranging from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies, was mired in a billing mess before it chose a professional services automation solution (PSA) from OpenAir, Boston. OpenAir has more than 35,000 users worldwide.
OpenAir is designed to makes it easy for service companies to share information and to better manage billing, projects, forecasting, reporting, and invoices, explained Morris Panner, OpenAirs CEO. The big picture is that OpenAir enables service companies to dynamically manage and analyze key business functions, he said.
Before using the OpenAir solution, DCC consultants were creating their own rules, said Ronn Breaux, DCCs COO. There were few controls on consultants and, because the company has 100 different billing rates, it was losing revenue, he said, adding OpenAir got DCCs billing under control quickly and enabled the company to boost revenue. "Today, we're doing about $15 million in revenue, which is up from $8 million six months ago."
Breaux noted that DCC is adding an average of three employees per month, and is now a 70-employee operation. "There is simply no way we could have achieved that kind of business growth without OpenAir," he explained.
PSA is tailor-made for addressing the core billing and project management needs of solution providers, said Panner. OpenAir requires very little upfront costs as it works on a subscription basis that begins at $50 per user per month, said Panner. For that fee, companies big and small get a sophisticated solution for handling billing, project management, and resource visibility.
About two years ago, DCC changed its business model, abandoning its generalist IT role to focus on providing Oracle solutions. The change boosted DCCs revenues but also challenged the ways it did billing because the company was taking on all sorts of Oracle projects, simple and complex.
At the same time, DCC had no desire to buy or build an application. DCC saw OpenAir as the perfect solution for communicating at an enterprise level without taking on the burden of supporting a new application, said Breaux.
Our billing was all over the place, mostly because we lacked a billing system flexible enough to handle many project variables, he added." Before OpenAir, we basically had two choices: bill for hourly work or at a fixed rate per project.
DCC needed a solution that would give it more fine-grained functionality and yet be easy to use. Our billing rates depend on variables such as when a client signed a contract, the complexity of the task, how many Oracle products they have, and whether they have SLAs for all or some products, said Breaux.
OpenAir, which offers a wide selection of billing and project staffing rules, not only helped DCC to improve its invoicing but to improve the revenue recognition phases of projects, since the fine-grained billing rules translated into accurate and detailed invoices.
Before using OpenAir, Breaux said calculating basic expenses created problems for invoicing. We had so many project variables that allowable expenses would change from project to project, said Breaux. Consultants themselves were deciding whether expenses were billable or not.
Now, expense rules are built into the PSA system, so only billable expenses end up on invoices, he said. Our invoices are accurate, detailed, and rarely challenged by customers. OpenAir has given us greater depth and control over forecasting and reporting, said Breaux, noting the PSA integrates with Salesforce.com on the back-end and QuickBooks on the front-end."