When you first start out, there’s usually one person doing the quoting and you therefore tend to have some level of consistency.
However, as the company scales and more people start to quote, that consistency fizzles out—often leading to quotes that are all over the map in terms of price.
This subject reminds me of a time when a key client lodged a complaint about a colleague and demanded to have no future dealings with them. This was a bolt from the blue as everyone, clients and co-workers alike, loved working with this person.
Their reason? The quotes they’d started to receive.
The real problem didn't lie with the colleague. Indeed, for the first time ever, the client was receiving accurate estimates. It turned out the former account lead had their own weird and wonderful approach to quoting, which was … some way off the mark.
As far as the client was concerned, this was the same vendor delivering the same service with the same rates … and the price had doubled.
This story serves as a reminder why consistency is important.
But how do you establish consistency when things are fast-paced and you do need to afford certain freedoms?
The solution is centralized quote templates.
Better yet, centralized quote templates that are regularly reviewed and improved based on lessons learned from project reviews.
The benefits of this are numerous and proven, such as:
- Establishing consistency—of course! e.g. if the clients does the same type of project multiple times, you needn’t worry that different people will end up at vastly different prices
- Somewhere to apply lessons learned—actions from project reviews can be fed back into the templates, so you see continual improvements and sustained accuracy
- Speed of quote creation—with most—perhaps all!—things taken care of, your people can spend a little extra time mulling things over, or get the time back for another activity altogether
- Familiarity for team members—for the people who work on projects, they become familiar with the same project processes, the same structure of deliverables in the timesheet so timesheet recording is easier (and more accurate!), etc.
- Ability to analyse across many projects—if all projects of a certain type are structured in the same way it’s easier to cross-analysis performance and compare apples with apples
How to do it? Well, there are 2 ways.
Method number 1 when you have no dedicated system in place, is with the use of centrally administered spreadsheets. The individuals responsible for quoting should use one of the centrally approved templates as their starting position when quoting for each job. You need to make sure you're hot on this though, and people don't end up with their own rogue, offline versions (which don't include lessons learned, may have errors in calculations, use old rates, etc.).
Method number 2 is with a system like CMap. There are a host of advantages to a dedicated system, but the number one advantage is that it speeds up project reviews (which provide your lessons learned, which then feedback into the templates). The reason for that is timesheets are booked against project deliverables, enabling you to get a really clear, automatic view of the Budget vs Actual performance for each phase of delivery.