Shifting the burden of invoice quality from the Support Team to the PSA software is the main purpose of building the Cascading Contract Automation. The Automation reduces their Invoice Quality responsibilities down to answering one key question:
“What Type of Work did you do?”
The primary benefits of Cascading Contract Automation are:
- More efficient Service Delivery Teams
- Less work for Account Managers and Accounting
- Invoices go out correctly and fairly
Back in the day, Account Managers spent a day and half reviewing invoices before sending them out to the Customers. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot.
For one, this review kept them from selling, reducing potential revenue by 15%. It also created hours of rework for the Accounting department – who then had to redo the invoices, including the hassle of un-posting.
And that is not even the worst part of the process. From my experience, if an Account Manager found an error in favor of the Customer, they quickly marked up the invoice for the Accounting Team to fix. However, if the error is in favor of the Company, the Account Manager would look the other way and blame the Company for not knowing any better.
Building a Cascading Contract Automation process starts with reviewing all Customers. We recommend pulling a list of all Customers worked for over the last six months and comparing that list to a list of all Customers with an existing Contract.
Comparing Lists: A Customer Review
We merge the “Customers with contracts in Autotask” list into the list of ‘All Customers worked for” over the last 6 months. The combined list is then reviewed to make sure the Customers without contracts are truly T&M Customers at the Standard Role rate adjusted by Work Type.
You can tag all Customers without a contract as T&M so you know they were reviewed, and that they are in fact a T&M Customer. It would not surprise me that when doing the review, we come across a few Customers who have Managed Service Agreements (MSA’s), but not an active unexpired contract in Autotask. The purpose of this drill is to make sure all T&M Customers do not have a contract and all Managed Service Customers do have a contract in Autotask.
Note: Any time a Customer is to be invoiced at the Standard Role Rate Adjusted by Work Type, no contract is needed. They will be invoiced without any further adjustments. Keep in mind: what their invoices look like is typically based on the invoice template assigned to them at the Customer level.
Next Steps After Review & Verification
Once the combined list has been reviewed, and it’s been verified that all Customers with agreements do in fact have a contract in Autotask covering the agreement, then we are ready to move on. The combined list can now be cut down to only those with some level of contract with the Company.
While not all agreements may be Managed Service Agreements, we refer to Managed Service Customers as any Customer with any type of agreement with the Company – including HaaS agreements.
In the second pass through, go to the Managed Service Customers list, add a comment column, and populate the cells with all of the Types of Work that are excluded from the Primary contract.
Which contract is primary? The one that is most likely to have the highest amount of labor posted against it. At this point, do not worry about rates or what happens to the excluded work. Just focus on identifying the Primary Contract and all the excluded work from it for each Customer.
Note: The beauty of Autotask contracts is how robust they are. Outside of dealing with Taxes, we have not heard of a Customer contractual agreement in which the Autotask contract module could not handle the Cascading Contract Automation. We have had the honor of guiding an MSP thru the process of setting up a 9-level Autotask Cascading Contract Automation.
Exclusions Make Your Life Easier
Once all of the exclusions for each Customer has been listed in a comment field, then group the Customers based on similar sets of exclusions. Then voila, each Level of Service (platinum, gold, silver, & bronze or whatever naming convention you are using) starts to appear as well as how Exclusion Sets should be configured.
Exclusion Sets are used to make contract creation easier. When creating an Exclusion Set, it’s easier and faster to choose the set rather than the individual Exclusions. This is especially true if you have a long list of exclusions (Projects, Afterhours, On-Site, Travel, etc.) that are common across multiple Customers (a package service level).
Relax! At this point, what to do with the exclusions is not very important. Finding and knowing all the different types of exclusions that need to be accounted for is what matters most. With the list of exclusions in hand, making sure there is a Work Type for each comes next.
Before you go:
Side Note: Before throwing the list of all Customers with an existing Contract away, double-check the contract fields that impact the Service Delivery Team, specifically the ones the SLA Automation depends on.
Here is the list. Make sure:
- All active Contracts are not beyond their end date
- All Customers have a Default Service Desk Contract
- All Contracts have a designated Contract Category
- All Contracts are assigned an SLA
** for more information on SLA Automation, please read this article**
Thank you for reading this article, and for providing us an opportunity to help.