Quintica Increased & Now Drives Its Profitability Using Productive

“Before using Productive, I would have to spend 8 hours to figure certain numbers out. Now, I have those numbers in real time, at a glance.”

— Patric Osburn,
Service Operations Manager at Quintica

Professional Services

50+ Staff

Quintica.com

Johannesburg,
South Africa

Before implementing Productive, Quintica, a professional services provider based in South Africa, had one enormous pain point:not all their business processes and data were in one place. This made it impossible to understand which projects weren’t profitable and where they were losing resources. They needed a tool that was affordable, easy to use, and in real time. Check out what Patric Osburn, Operations Manager at Quintica shared with us about their business efficiencies and growth.

Tell us a bit about Quintica. What do you do, how many people do you employ?

From a full-time perspective, we’re over 50 people, and we use contractors quite a lot as well. At any stage, we can have over 100 people on board. From a product perspective, we have two main partners who own the product lines we sell. After selling the products, we need to implement them, and that’s where we mainly use Productive: to track the implementations of the professional services we’ve sold.

If you look back to nine years ago when Quintica was founded, how did things change, operationally?

Back then, things were very manual. For the first 6-7 years, everything was in Excel sheets. Thanks to the lovely product called Productive, we are now automating many processes, which is great.

Back then, I assume you had everything in your head? You didn’t really need a tool?

We would have loved one, we just didn’t have one. I would say that back then, the company wasn’t focusing as much on real-time data, reporting and accuracies as it is today.

From the executive team’s side, there was definitely a drive for our version of a digital transformation. We tried as much as possible to get off excel sheets, PowerPoint slides, and manual reporting and cut down on administrative work. 

“We needed a tool that was affordable, where we could do reporting, that was easy to use, and in real-time.”

Why did you first consider implementing a tool like Productive? Why did you start searching for a new tool?

We had an internal project management tool we were using prior to Productive, but it wasn’t working for all our requirements, so we started venturing out for other options. We needed a tool that was affordable, where we could do reporting, that was easy to use, and in real-time. Now we run our entire business life cycles in Productive: from engaging with a client in the pre-sales phase to closing the deal, then managing the entire project and having real-time data throughout. 

“What percent are we finished with this project? What is the end margin going to be? I could never get those answers before.”

What did things look like before Productive? What kind of problems did you want to solve?

Typically, I’d get asked by one of our clients: What percent are we finished with this project? or from Management: What is the end margin going to be? I could never get those answers before. We had spreadsheets, we had a system that didn’t really work, we had people incorrectly logging their time, in the wrong places. The system was very hard to use, the data was not easy to communicate and I was not sure it was accurate. Now, I’m confident when anyone asks me a question regarding the profitability of a particular project. With Productive, I can easily share forecasting and scheduling, knowing: This project’s going to end in March, we’ll have a 30% margin.

So, before you couldn’t share what the present situation was in real time? It’d probably take you hours to manually get that information?

Yes, the process of getting a high-level overview of a project would be manual, in spreadsheets, and it’d take hours. When you have the right tool, it does it for you.

“Before using Productive, I would have to spend 8 hours to figure certain numbers out. Now, I have those numbers in real time, at a glance, and I can focus on other key areas of the business.

Would you be able to quantify what kind of benefit you got from Productive?

The time investment aspect is massive. For example, before using Productive, I would have to spend 8 hours on figuring certain numbers out. Now, I have those numbers in real time, at a glance, and I can focus on other key areas of the business. For budgeting and closing projects, our margins have significantly increased. We had a couple of projects that we actually lost money on. They were unprofitable projects because we couldn’t really understand where we were. Ever since we’ve been on Productive, we haven’t made one loss from a project perspective.

From the operational side, with the scheduling and timekeeping in Productive, we’re able to understand what our managers are doing and when they forecast doing what. So, within the teams, they understand what they should be working on, and when.  Productive has also alleviated a lot of the meetings that we used to have to discuss resourcing. We had different sheets all over the place. It’s live, easy, it’s made life simple…and it made our people productive!

“Because of the information that’s available now, we’re doing more because Management is looking at the information and dissecting it even further. “Why did those 10 projects make a 42% profit, and that one made 20%?” Before using Productive, we could never understand where differences in profit were coming from.”

Would you say that your operations have become more mature than before? Has it opened up new perspectives, conversations?

Executive levels could never get the information they can get now. Now that they have access to data, they’re asking other questions that help us streamline our processes even more. Because of the information that’s available now, we’re doing more because Management is looking at the information and dissecting it even further. “Why did those 10 projects make a 42% profit, and that one made 20%?” Before using Productive, we could never understand where differences in profit were coming from.

Also, we’ve seen an impact on our employees. Project managers are able to say to their teams “Guys, you’ve only got 8 hours to do this. Is there an issue that we need to highlight right away, or are you still ok with that? Because it will influence the profit of the project.” The fact that project managers have visibility into the estimated effort, as well as actual effort and forecasted effort, means that our project teams are more connected to the financials of a project, which means they understand the impact of doing certain things. They’re able to raise issues much earlier. There’s a lot better communication, we’re not dealing with as much firefighting.

Wow, It’s not that common that employees themselves care about profitability. How did you get to that mindset, were you always focused on profitability, or is this something new at Quintica?

It’s something new. We’ve brought in some project profitability incentive schemes. Employees are incentivized based on profit, which means that they’ve got an active interest in what’s going on with the projects. The project manager is still accountable, but the teams want to make it profitable, too, so they can benefit themselves.

As a manager, now I just go into the meetings, I really don’t have to prepare. During the meeting, I’ll just go into the reports, and if anyone wants to, we deep dive into details.”

Did you reveal some extra benefits that you didn’t expect from Productive at first?

Some of the reporting wasn’t expected. If we set things up correctly with our budgets, we can see exactly what our profit forecasting will be. Otherwise, all I expected was an easy tool to use for the resources i.e. staff for timekeeping and managing tasks. As the manager, now I just go into the meetings, I really don’t have to prepare. During the meeting, I’ll just go into the reports, and if anyone wants to, we deep dive into details.

It makes your life simple, it’s a pretty tool to look at, it’s got great reporting, it’s easy to use, it’s not expensive for what you get out of it, and the support from the Productive team is really, really good.”

If you look at your daily job a year ago when you weren’t using Productive and today, how did it change? 

I used to be stuck in Excel everyday, and it sucked. Now it’s quite cool, coming into work. My day has improved, every single day, from every single perspective. As a Project Manager, it definitely gave me more confidence to make decisions because I’ve got the data to do it now. If I need it to move resources around, add a change request, pull things back, I have the visibility to do that. So I’m more in control now.

From an Operations Manager’s perspective, it makes your life simple, it’s a pretty tool to look at, it’s got great reporting, it’s easy to use, it’s not expensive for what you get out of it, and the support from the Productive team is really, really good.

And the learning curve? How much of an effort was it?

It’s kind of been a journey because we started with very limited expectations. We just needed to get off that awful other system for timekeeping and logging projects. As we went forward, we discovered so many more things we could do. It wasn’t that it took us a long time to learn Productive, but rather that our understanding was evolving. With time, we were revealing what else we could do. Maybe the biggest learning curve was setting budgets up correctly. Once we got your advice, I stuck to that format.

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