As the world continues to focus on energy efficiency and conservation, business has been good for Franklin Energy, LLC. The Port Washington, Wisconsin company, which consults on energy saving programs for utilities and their commercial clients, has been in a growth phase for the last several years. This has resulted in a group of core clients throughout Wisconsin and Michigan, seventeen offices, and a staff of 200 with projections for continued growth.
The growth has presented Franklin with new operational challenges. The company had been using a Microsoft Access database accessed by remote staff via Citrix, coupled with manual processing of the resulting spreadsheets to manage employee time, expenses, and client billing. According to Richard Ballard, Franklin Energy’s Controller, “That was fine when we were a 50-person firm, but once we got to 150 people it became unmanageable, especially as we added so many remote locations. The system just wasn’t built for that type of volume.”
The system crashed at least four times a month when employees attempted to log in on Monday mornings. That resulted in approximately 75 hours of lost productivity every month while staff waited for the system to come back online.
Furthermore, manual processing of time and expense data increased the likelihood of errors in both assignment of pay rates, employee reimbursements and tracking project statistics. “Pay rates weren’t part of the system, and it provided no control of overtime hours or which projects employees were billing to,” Ballard noted. “in some cases there were legitimate overtime hours, but they weren’t captured correctly, so we lost revenue because we didn’t have the controls to ensure clients were being billed properly.”
The old system also had minimal reporting capabilities. As the number and scale of clients and projects grew, this severely limited the company’s ability to manage projects adequately.
When Franklin decided to begin its search for a new solution, it considered PSA and two other competitors. However, as the company’s due diligence progressed, it became clear that PSA Time and Billing and Project Cost & Billing were the appropriate choices.
That was largely due to features such as the ability to limit data access, control task assignments and rates based on qualifiers like date parameters, and to customize reporting through the SQL database. “Ultimately, PSA was the only solution that had the functionality we needed,” Ballard says.
Franklin selected the PSA On-Demand platform for the new system. This allowed the company to take immediate advantage of the functionality and capabilities it provides without having to build or maintain additional internal IT infrastructure. It also allows ease of access for employees throughout the company’s expanding network of offices.
The PSA solutions have facilitated the elimination of all manual processing and resulted in the equivalent of one full-time employee being available for other responsibilities. This improved efficiency has enabled the company to easily accommodate continued growth. “We have added more than 60 employees since implementing PSA and been able to handle the increased reporting volume without any new administrative staff,” Ballard says. As a result, he predicts Franklin Energy’s ROI for its PSA investment to be only thirteen months.
The new system has been integrated with ADP for payroll and with Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains for employee reimbursement. This has allowed Franklin to take advantage of numerous benefits to both processes:
- Automated invoicing has resulted in billing being generated more quickly, which has reduced time of payment cycles and increased case flow
- PSA controls at the time of data entry have improved the accuracy of all payroll, reimbursement and invoicing activities
- Employee reimbursement has been streamline by eliminating the need for hard-copy receipts and associated paperwork
In addition, Time & Expense Tracking has given the company the controls it needs to accurately monitor project hours and expenses, automate rate and overtime assignments and approvals, and authorize access to information. It is even able to customize log-on screens to the needs and specifications of individual projects and groups of employees.
The versatility of the PSA solution is also positively impacting customer service. For example, a client recently requested a change to weekly billing, which the previous manual system would not have been able to accommodate. Ballard explains, “Because we can now capture data and manage budgets in a more accurate and timely fashion with PSA, we were easily able to honor that request.”