I’ve been at SSW, a medium sized custom software consultancy, for over 10 years, and in that time I’ve asked for a number of SQL Reporting Services reports to be made, but due to the difficulty in getting exactly what I needed out of the developers, I still had to make many decisions based on best guesses.
In the past year, since I’ve had access to Power BI and can make many of the required reports myself, this has sent me down a serious rabbit hole of discovery into what metrics I really need to run a software consultancy.
So here are the most important reports that I think every consultancy should have.
Every responsible business owner / General Manager needs to keep their finger on the pulse of the financial health of their business. It’s also important to be able to drill down by both time (years, quarters, months) and expense types (salaries, fixed costs, variable costs, etc) to investigate anomalies.
As a services based business, how many hours you bill vs how many salaries you’re paying is a very good success marker. Keep track of how well each of your employees and offices are going with a Utilisation report. I’t s a good idea to look at this kind of report monthly to ask questions like:
- Should I hire / fire someone to grow / shrink one of the offices?
- If some people have low utilisation, can they be up-skilled, or is there a good reason that they need to work on internal things?
Your employees will need a nice easy way to get up to speed on the history of a particular client when they join a project or are speaking to them about potential new work. An Overview Report like the one above is a good way for them to get acclimatised. It shows:
- When / how much previous work has been done
- Who did that work
- What projects have been worked on
- What technologies those projects are/were built in
Technology (i.e. Income Streams)
As a software development company, our main way of splitting up income streams is by project technologies, but for you this could be any way of splitting the service you’re offering by skill types. The importance of this report is it allows us to know what technologies we should be focusing on with new hires, internal work, or up-skilling. For example, we can tell from the Trends visualisation on the top right above, that SharePoint is becoming less relevant for us, and Dynamics CRM work is becoming a larger proportion of our income.
Current Sales Opportunities
As a services company, you’re probably dealing with a relatively small number of high value companies, and it’s vital that your sales process is strong to keep work coming in. This report shows which of your sales people are dealing with which opportunity, and where those opportunities are coming in from. This report is the reason we opened up an office in Victoria, as we could easily see that there was enough demand there to justify it.
Booked in Days (Forecast)
In order to run a services company, you need a service calendar so you know who is available for client work and who’s already booked in or on leave. We use Dynamics CRM but built our own “booked in days” report as the out of the box one was hard to use. This was built in SQL Reporting Services, but will soon be redeveloped in Power BI.
We have other reports that we use to drill down on a lot of the above info, such as conversion rates reports to see how successful our sales process is, or detailed invoicing and receipting reports to see how our clients are paying us and who are main clients are, but the above 6 will get you most of the way there.
Do you have any others that you think I should make? Please let me know in the comments below and I’ll see what else I can spin up.