With her deep expertise in the professional services industry, Donna Cribbin, former Principal Architect at sa.global explains how a project-based approach is profitable for ProServ scenarios.

We talk about ‘ProServ’ at sa.global because our sole focus is the Professional Services market. When you break that down though, the professional services market does not necessarily know they are Proserv companies i.e., Legal is quite different from Advertising even though they are both powered by projects.

We have many subject matter experts who are Advisors at sa.global to cover the various verticals. It is a special opportunity to have someone on our team who has worked in multiple professional services markets and can help clients look at the big picture by referencing solutions from other sectors. One of these people is Donna Cribbin, Principal Architect, and Pre-Sales Consultant for sa.global. In this piece, Donna shares anecdotes from client solutions where the impossible became possible.

Q: How did you get into Dynamics?

A:I worked for a Macola ERP reseller in the 1990s. The Macola system was a manufacturing, distribution, and financial system; I provided technical support and consulting. At one point, the owner of that firm came across Damgaard Axapta, felt it was the future, and we transitioned over. I began implementing Axapta 2.5 and never looked back because I thought it was a great solution. It was far more reaching because of international capabilities and the owner of the firm I worked for was right – it was the future.

During that time, I went from support to delivery, and then moved into sales. I started my career as an accountant and I loved being exposed to different aspects of the system, and I liked the challenge of a different problem every day rather than months-long implementations. It was at that point that I began to specialize in projects because it felt like home to me.

Q: What was it about ProServ – project accounting – that made you decide you were home?

A: I had been doing project demos for different verticals when sa.global approached me about ProServ. This is a focus area I really like, and I have been working in it for years. I found a lot of different challenges – a lot of different solutions ProServ users can benefit from, and they don’t even know it.

I have been in organizations that did not have anything – I asked them to use a ProServ type project and they ask, “What does it do for us?” As I demonstrate it to them, their eyes light up when they see how they can record all the expenses and costs of a project, either client-based or internal.

Previously, they had been doing the work in Excel and did not know there was a solution. Once I showed it to them, they were sold. They had not thought of these unique ways to use the software. I enjoyed seeing their eyes light up – that they really got it and it was the answer to their problem.

When ProServ came along, it added more functionality to standard projects. This is my first love when it comes to software – working with organizations, their challenges, and coming up with unique solutions to problems when it comes to recording data.

Q: Do you have a story you can tell us about one of those unique solutions?

A: One favorite story was in media. A major television network wanted a way to track the costs for producing pilot programs and programs that became shows. They were doing a lot of cost recording on spreadsheets. I used projects and created a couple of different shows as sets of data.

In their business, they want to track costs and revenue by show, by season, and by episode. I was able to demonstrate how each show could be a project broken out by season (sub-project) and by episode within each season (sub-sub-project). They could then record the expense of producing a show – talent, props, sets, wardrobe, etc. against each episode. They could then summarize all the episode expenses at the season level and summarize all the seasons at the show level. They could even use the project to bill the advertising agencies for the commercials to record the revenue. It is a very complex process and there was a way to do it.

Another fav is how a home construction company can use projects to track the cost and revenue of each house built. In this case, the development is the project with each phase a sub-project and each lot within a phase a sub-project of the phase. The costs associated with building each house are recorded on the appropriate lot number (sub-project of the appropriate phase). And as often happens when building homes, there are multiple change orders which are configured as sub-projects of the lot number. With this structure, they were able to see the cost of the change orders, the cost of the house with and without change orders, the cost of each phase, and the cost of the entire development. The revenue was recorded by generating the bill to the homeowner for the selling price of the house (including add-ons/ change orders) against the lot number sub-project.

Almost every project manager has the same questions: How do you track the changes and what do they cost you? Are you making money on the change order? Do you know how much free work you did? What percent was change request and how close was our estimate to our actuals?

Lack of a project accounting system means they do not have the answers to these questions. In addition, the embedded Microsoft Power BI analytics provides project KPIs where the answers are available within the project accounting solution.

Q: How is sa.global different with our ProServ IP compared to what you have seen in the field?

A: ProServ expands and enhances the Project Accounting features in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance. ProServ provides many new features including (but not limited to) additional workflows for project approval and client approval; a simplified budgeting option; ability to assign a Project Managers from another legal entity; e-billing; settle payments against specific invoice lines; multiple payers; and the ability to easily control who can access a specific project.

In addition, there is a new Project Hub workspace that includes a configurable dashboard. Lastly, ProServ apps are available for simplified Time Entry and All-in-One Approvals where users can review and approve different types of documents in one place.