How to Improve Project Management for Service Businesses

By: Michael Marinaro

Looking to enhance project management for your service business? Good project management helps you improve oversight of your operations and maintain tighter control of project accounting. It provides key insights and helps you understand the true costs of the services you render and get an accurate and detailed view of profitability.

Sound good? NetSuite Project Management is a tool that’ll help you do those things. Let’s look at what it offers to service businesses.

With NetSuite, you can manage your service business more effectively with integrated project management, project tracking and reporting. You can automate project creation when specific services are sold and automatically track percent complete, time budgeted and time spent on project tasks. Reports for utilization and backlog help analyze employee workloads and efficiency.

Link Project Management and Accounting

Project accounting is a key component in monitoring the progress of your projects and ensuring that your business remains profitable. NetSuite Project Management helps organize work and allows visibility into a complex operation.

NetSuite’s Project Management module seamlessly integrates with NetSuite’s accounting system. In addition to project management and time and expense tracking, you can create and issue invoices, compare project performance to budgets and other metrics. The Project Management module manages revenue recognition, expenses, unbilled balances and other project-related financials.

How Service Businesses Can Benefit From a Project Management Tool

NetSuite’s Project Management tool easily handles several key functions that are essential to any service business.

Manage Multiple Project Types

NetSuite manages multiple types of projects including time and materials and fixed price projects.

Automate Job Creation

You can automate job creation by identifying service items that will require a job; then, sales orders for those items go into a queue where you can assign ID and project manager, and bulk create many jobs with one click.

Organize Tasks and Activities

NetSuite also organizes tasks, calls and events, linking them to specific projects. Information regarding clients is managed in one place so resource tracking is complete and real-time, forever improving client service and can be segmented and leveraged for smarter customer intelligence.

Project Tasks

You can create project tasks with multiple predecessors and finish-to-start (FS), start-to-start (SS), finish-to-finish (FF) and start-to-finish (SF) relationships. In addition, project tasks can be created with lag time between tasks and a Finish No Later Than (FNLT) constraint.

Project Dashboard

The Project Dashboard gives project managers a visual, graphical analysis of the status of specific projects. Project managers can see important key performance indicators (KPIs) at a glance such as which projects are on time, under budget and destined for success. For projects that are behind, you can use the dashboard to quickly drill down and identify the root cause. As team members enter information, the dashboard updates automatically to provide you with an up-to-date view of the current health of your projects, while it’s happening.

NetSuite project dashboard

Project Center

With Project Management, you can assign project resources a standard consultant role with access to the Project Center. It provides a convenient way for consultants and project managers to view summary information about their projects and quickly enter transactions against those projects.

Project-Based Milestones

Project milestones are critical points that you monitor throughout the life cycle of a project. Milestones highlight important interim events, such as the completion of a phase, delivery of materials and payment for work performed. These milestones are useful, for example, in setting dates for billing and completeness of work.

Project Templates

Project templates are reusable templates that provide robust starting points for your projects, saving time and simplifying projects from beginning to end.

Project P&L Tab

With the project P&L tab, you can track progress and monitor costs associated with each project, keeping you on top of financial performance.

Estimate Labor and Revenue

NetSuite estimates labor cost and revenue for jobs based on the number of hours entered times the loaded cost rate for each employee and anticipated billing amounts from the sales order linked to the job.

Gantt Chart

An improved Gantt chart provides better visibility into project schedules. It is a useful tool for planning and scheduling projects, monitoring a project’s progress, and illustrating start and finish dates including summary elements of a project.

NetSuite gantt chart


Timesheets allow you to enter and submit weekly timesheets, saving you time and effort. With the timesheet record available to you in NetSuite’s SuiteCloud platform, you can customize your timesheet approval processes to suit your unique business needs.

Mobile Time and Expense

You can use your iPhone to create and submit time and expense reports after completing a job, directly upload images of receipts, view time entries on a timesheet/week basis and more.

NetSuite time and expense mobile app

Tie Projects to Customers and Bill Directly

Create project jobs and link them to specific customers, even create sub-jobs. When you create project tasks, and enter time against them, percent complete is automatically calculated and rolled up to the job level. Keep track of original and current estimated time to complete each task. Billing time back to customers enables you to enter time spent on a job for customers, and then bill the cost to them.

Project Billing

You can bill projects based on completing project work, achieving project milestones or according to a schedule of dates. The billing schedule type specified on the project determines the type of project: time and materials billing, fixed bid interval/milestone billing schedules and charge-based project billing. Also, billing forecasts can be generated based on the effort planned to be expended across the planned project billing interval to determine when you expect customers to be billed.

Payroll Expense Allocation for Jobs

NetSuite provides a one-click solution for tracking the actual labor cost of your jobs. Salaried earnings and payroll company contributions can be allocated to the jobs each employee worked on during the pay period, according to the time they entered, providing more accurate financial reporting on job profitability.

Broaden Project Visibility, Measure Performance

All project job records include start dates, estimated end dates, percentage of work completed, actual end dates, as well as all income and expenses associated with each project. You can view time budgeted versus time spent as well as team utilization.

Project Tracking Reports

  • Employee utilization – Track employee utilization rates on a per-employee and rolled-up team basis using this report. You can also compare utilization for two time periods at once. For example, you can view “current month to date” utilization and “current year to date” utilization side by side.
  • Current backlog – Get a quick overview of work remaining on your open jobs — the number of jobs assigned to each service rep and the number of hours left to complete their job-related tasks.
  • Customer/project profitability – Review the profitability of your projects based on actual posting revenue and expense transactions.

Need Help?

Looking to enhance your project management? Contact us online, give us a call at 410.685.5512 or click the link below to schedule your demo.

Published June 29, 2021

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