PPM vendor Forecast has introduced a new feature called Baseline to help organisations forecast project profitability more accurately. The solution aims to deliver profitability forecasts right from the quotation stage through to invoicing. Details were provided in a blog by Iryna Viter, B2B Content Marketing Manager at Forecast.
What does Baseline provide?
To take advantage of Baseline, users create a baseline as a contract or proposal is created. Baseline is available for Fixed Price and Time & Materials projects but not for Retainer Projects. The baseline is created as part of the sales process, and the user can define specific settings relating to financial metrics they wish to track, including:
- Project win profitability
- Fixed Price or for T&M projects a target price
- Rate card for expected revenues
- Time estimates, this is not the same as the project managers or team scoping time estimates
- Internal cost calculation method used including company average, project team average, fixed internal cost.
Users can create a Baseline Plan which will include all the milestones in a given project. In the example given in the introductory blog, which lists:
- UX & Design or Scoping
Oddly this doesn’t completely align with a recent blog published by the company that looked at five steps in digital project, which noted:
- Initial planning
- Testing & Deployment
Putting this discrepancy aside, it appears as though the structure of Baseline uses milestones that users can create any number of. Once the baseline is created, the project team can then create the project using the same milestones as the baseline, which are transferred across. As project managers build the details during their planning stage, they can rapidly see if they are meeting profitability targets for projects. It enables them to adjust resources to ensure profitability objectives are kept.
As the project progresses, Baseline continues to track profitability against the scoping and actual costs as the project is delivered. This simple to use feature connects the dots between sales and delivery, offering transparency that is rarely visible in professional services organisations.
Why is this useful?
Forecast believes that Baseline provides an easy-to-understand, visual tool to show clients where changes to a project impact a project’s costs. This should make it easier to highlight where a seemingly innocuous change request can lead to a substantive increase in costs, and it can either be de-scoping or introduce an additional charge. Baseline also offers transparency across an organisation with the sales team and project team understanding the constraints and actual delivery costs of projects in real-time. This allows the tough conversations to happen sooner with customers if pricing needs to increase.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
This is an intriguing new feature; some details are missing around the connection between proposals and the baseline. Is there an actual connection between the two? If a quotation changes, will the baseline get updated? These details may become clearer in a webinar on Thursday 25th at 5:00 PM CET. This may be available on the same page for viewing after the live event.
One downside of this new feature is that it is only available to Enterprise customers and not for Lite or Pro users. The latter especially will be disappointed.