Building Intelligent Quotes

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Building Intelligent Quotes

Learn how to build your own Intelligent Quotes

Almost every practice we walk into has separate quoting, project delivery and invoicing functions. Typically the way this operates is that the partners or principals have their own base of clients which they know well and have strong enduring relationships with. Each partner is responsible for bringing in their own projects by meeting with clients, pricing the project and preparing a quote. The Partner relies on their technical skills, experience and business acumen to price each project. Michael Gerber described this in The E-Myth as an inherent conflict in every business owner.

People become partners because they're good at what they do and they want the flexibility and opportunities that come with working for themselves. What they end up with though is the ongoing responsibility to bring in work for their growing staff. What is created in many practices we meet is a bottleneck around the Partners that simultaneously need to be prospecting, quoting, managing, delivering and approving invoices.

Good Questions

Part of what we focus on in the early stages of working with clients implementing new technologies is the sales engine in the firm.

  • With whom do you compete? How?
  • What do your clients value?
  • How do you win work?
  • How do you price projects?
  • Where do you make money on these projects?

These are the sort of questions that not only determine the fit/suitability of an application for a practice but what combination of people, processes and technology we're going to apply to the sales engine of a firm.

The Objectives

Quoting although necessary is not a value-added activity for your clients. So how can we turn out accurate quotes using the least amount of time and brain power from people who would otherwise be doing value-added activities?

We want to achieve the below 3 objectives:

  1. Extract the experience, skills and business acumen from the partners preparing quotes, build this into all future quotes.
  2. Reduce the amount of time taken to prepare quotes.
  3. Feed our successes and failures back into the assumptions that built that quote.

Applications like WorkflowMax when applied well are used to achieve the above 3 objectives.

Several features used together will deliver this with the right training and defined processes:

  1. Job Templates
  2. Staff Task estimates
  3. Report Builder

How It’s Done

An important part of what we do is to identify flavours of projects that might exist in a practice. We analyse historical quotes, current projects and client mix to do this.

We take these flavours and build these into Job Templates. These templates capture:

  1. The tasks involved in a project or project phase
  2. The step by step processes involved in completing a task
  3. The type of staff (Senior, Intermediate, Junior) that might be required on this sort of task and how long we'd expect this task to take.

From there we start to build up a picture of what this project might look like before we've even won the work. We can then start to apply the business acumen of the partners to modify this quote for things like project-specific items, contingencies, the market and of course margin. All of these are currently occurring in your practice but invisibly, at lightning speed inside someone's head. Let's make these assumptions.

  1. Visible
  2. Repeatable
  3. Improvable

When the quote is accepted all of these assumptions are applied to the job and inform the basis of our budgets automagically. This means our project managers know exactly the kind of maths we did in our head when we quoted this work and don't have to build these project budgets themselves.

The Reward

Throughout the project we're getting live information on what time and budget is remaining for a task, phase of tasks, team or individual person. At the end of this project we can see where and how our initial assumptions proved true or false. How did our assessment of the time involved in completing a task when quoting compare to the reality of delivery? Where were our overruns? Where did we make more margin than expected?

An important final step is to use WorkflowMax's Report Builder to tell us this information in a digestible way on a semi-frequent basis to test and adjust our Job Templates. This completes the feedback loop and lets you build truly intelligent quotes.

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To start building intelligent quoting into your business call us on 0800 159 672 or email

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Posted by Link Solutions

At Link Solutions we believe owning a business should be fun, profitable and facilitate a flexible lifestyle with the ability to work from anywhere. We help business owners achieve this through the integration of technology, people and processes; enabling them to work less and do more with their time.

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