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Twenty5 for Professional Services Part 3: Elimination of Offline tools: A Paradigm Shift for Modern Professional Services Businesses

Updated: Jun 28

The spreadsheet cling: Why users resist change 

For many professionals services project estimators, spreadsheets have been the cornerstone of resource plans and project cost and price estimates, for decades. Their familiarity, flexibility, and simplicity make them an attractive option for various tasks, from basic data entry to complex financial modeling. However, this reliance often leads to resistance when transitioning to new systems. Let's explore the importance of looking beyond offline spreadsheet data.  


The comfort of the familiar tool 

Spreadsheets have been around for so long that many users are deeply ingrained in their use. The interface is intuitive for those who have spent years navigating rows and columns. The fear of the unknown and the potential learning curve associated with new tools can be daunting. Users often worry about losing the ease of use and flexibility they have come to rely on. 


Perceived flexibility and control 

Spreadsheets offer unparalleled flexibility. Users can create custom formulas, manipulate data on the fly, and structure information exactly as they see fit. This level of control is empowering and can make alternative systems seem rigid by comparison. The thought of relinquishing this autonomy is a significant barrier to adopting new tools. However, it is important to know that Twenty5, which as a web-based centralized database comes with a ton of benefits, provides similar features to Excel, but in a different, and often better, way.  


Fragmented data and inefficiencies 

Despite their flexibility, spreadsheets come with a host of problems, particularly in a collaborative environment and especially for complex projects. Multiple versions of the same document can lead to confusion, errors, and inefficiencies. Data scattered across various files makes it challenging to maintain consistency and accuracy. How many times have you got half way through delivering a project, invariably over-schedule and budget, and someone asks the question “what did we estimate this would take originally”? With Excel spreadsheet based estimates you can never be confident that you even know the answer to this question, especially in a five year engagement where key personnel have moved into new roles. Yet, many professional services firms simply accept these drawbacks as a necessary trade-off for the perceived benefits of using spreadsheets. 


The benefits of centralized maintenance with Twenty5 

Transitioning from scattered spreadsheets to a centralized project data management system that Twenty5 offers, revolutionizes how businesses operate. Here's how Twenty5 addresses the concerns of traditional spreadsheet users while providing substantial benefits. 


Enhanced collaboration and real-time access 

One of the most significant advantages of Twenty5 is its ability to enhance collaboration. With real-time access to project data, team members across sales, delivery, and finance can work together more effectively. This synergy eliminates the delays and miscommunications that often arise from using multiple spreadsheet versions. Everyone has access to the latest information, fostering a more cohesive and efficient working environment. 


From simple projects worth tens of thousands of dollars which are planned by one person, to projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars put together by a large dispersed global team, Twenty5 allows everyone to work to a single data-set, no matter how many simulations, what-ifs, or rounds of client negotiations you end up with. 


Increased accuracy and transparency 

Centralizing project data creates a single source of truth. This ensures that all team members are working with the same information, reducing errors and inconsistencies. Enhanced accuracy leads to better decision-making and increased transparency across the organization. Stakeholders can trust that the data they are reviewing is up-to-date and reliable. 


Maintaining the familiar spreadsheet feel 

One of the standout features of Twenty5 is its spreadsheet-like interface in the functionalities where flexibility is required. This design choice ensures that users do not feel alienated by the transition. They can enjoy the same level of flexibility and control they are accustomed to, but within a more robust and efficient framework. Twenty5 replicates the familiar look and feel of spreadsheets, easing the transition and minimizing the learning curve. 


With added features beyond what Excel can provide 

How many times have you put together a resource plan in Excel only to realize that you are not using the most up to date set of resource cost or billing rates? Or the working hours or holiday schedule (days per month) for your resources changed since you got your version of the Excel template to work with? Or you have the most up to date rates, but was not aware of a specific MSA negotiated with this particular client for offshore resources with different rates to your standard company rates? 


Not only does Twenty5 overcome these obstacles by managing the cost and billing rates, at company, segment/product line or client/MSA level, and all the other master data, but Twenty5 also can support a number of features which Excel cannot do easily such as automatic currency conversion, conversion of full-time equivalents into hours based on department work-schedules and holiday calendars, resource capacity checking and integration to staffing tools, circular calculations and centrally managed formula and cost estimating relationships with questionnaire input modes such as the calculation of software development or training material development hours. 


And the secret sauce (shhhh) 

We don’t like to widely publicize but Twenty5 also has an Excel upload capability for users who are just stuck with using Excel, in companies which see the benefit of a central database. This allows you to seek the best of both worlds, to have your cake and eat it too. You can allow certain users to use Excel at least as an input tool while still ensuring that all of your proposal history, bids and project resource plans are in a central database.


Overcoming the "Used To" mindset 

Transitioning to a new system requires a shift in mindset. Proper training and support are crucial in helping users see the benefits of centralized tools over traditional spreadsheets. With Twenty5, users do not have to sacrifice flexibility for efficiency. The platform is designed to offer the best of both worlds, combining the intuitive nature of spreadsheets with the powerful capabilities of a centralized data management system. 


In conclusion, the elimination of spreadsheets in favor of centralized project data management with Twenty5 represents a significant shift for modern businesses. While the transition may seem challenging, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Enhanced collaboration, increased accuracy, and a familiar interface make Twenty5 an ideal solution for teams looking to improve efficiency without compromising on flexibility. By letting go of the "used to" mindset and embracing new tools, businesses can unlock their full potential and drive success in today's fast-paced environment. 


Ramnath Putta, Head of Delivery at Twenty5 LLC

Josh Wright, Pro Services Expert at Twenty5 LLC

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