Power BI & Odoo-based controlling for consulting projects
Controlling for consulting projects: the approach for a simple success control of projects
4 June, 2020 by
Power BI & Odoo-based controlling for consulting projects
manaTec GmbH, Gerald Berndt

In consulting projects, project controlling for the consulting company turns out to be simple and equally complex. The gross profit of a project, which is made up of project revenues and expenses excluding personnel costs, is comparatively easy to determine. After that, "only" the company's own personnel costs have to be allocated. On the overall project, there are of course further personnel and other expenses on the customer side, but this article only looks at the controlling possibilities on the part of the consulting company. In addition, we limit ourselves in this consideration to the financial success with hard factors - project success can be measured in itself in far more dimensions and is dependent on multilayered soft and hard factors. These soft factors, which can only be measured indirectly and are difficult to grasp, are attributed just as much importance by manaTec GmbH. This is shown not least by the forced and accompanying development as well as use of a solution for the internal success evaluation of consulting projects in the context of my master thesis. The conceptual and technical implementation of this measurement tool will therefore also be the topic of a later series of blog posts.

In order for a consulting company to be able to meaningfully evaluate the financial success of a project, it is necessary to allocate its own personnel expenses to the project. For large projects and permanent project members, this may be quite trivially solvable via wage costs. However, all non-allocable attendance hours are ignored, which creates a certain fuzziness and can result in an incorrect evaluation of different projects in relation to each other. The exact and complete recording of project times in customer projects therefore makes sense in order to be able to guarantee complete and transparent performance documentation for the comparability of projects and for invoicing.

In addition to an overview of the project hour distribution per employee, taking into account internal and external attribution, a customer-specific project evaluation is therefore of great benefit for consulting.

The billing rate has established itself as a useful financial KPI for consulting projects. This is simply the ratio of all project hours incurred to gross profit. In reporting, this can be aggregated at client or project level and narrowed down using time horizons. In this way, positive and negative trends can be identified over the course of the project and used as starting points for further action to increase project efficiency in the long term. In addition, projects of different sizes and business lines can be compared with each other.

The goal of the manaTec GmbH was to create such an evaluation using the operational data from Odoo in order to objectively, transparently, and quickly determine success trends in cross-customer project controlling, even in agile projects, and to be able to make appropriate follow-up decisions.

Interaction of Odoo and BI tools - data maintenance and analysis

Using Odoo as the underlying ERP system, the recording and allocation of employees including attendance and project times as well as customers including incoming and outgoing invoices is made possible with ease. The modules for data maintenance, which are absolutely necessary in the special use case, are based on an Odoo 12 Enterprise license, but are also all included in the Odoo 12 Community Edition with the necessary basic functionalities: Project, Time Recording, Billing, Sales, Purchasing, Personnel, Attendance, Contacts, Vacation Requests and Calendar.

Required modules from Odoo as a database.

Odoo offers native appropriate reporting and dashboarding within the modules, which in part also enables cross-module evaluations based on report tables. These functionalities are a helpful addition to the core area of mapping operational processes in the company. In many cases, they are already sufficient and can provide meaningful information via visually appealing reports. However, the use of Odoo's on-board tools is not practical or efficient enough for the specific use case, as other specialized tools are more suitable for this purpose.

Data evaluation via Power BI with Odoo as data source.

Power BI with a focus on reporting as a tool of choice

While ERP systems focus primarily on process mapping and data maintenance, in the area of business intelligence it is the evaluation and use of this data, with enhancement of all conceivable other data sources that are needed for the required reports and dashboards. Jedox and Power BI are two tools from our BI service portfolio that can be used for the evaluation described above. Due to the rather small project scope, data volume and project time frame, Power BI offers the more suitable tool for this use case.

In our next blogpost, you will learn more about the interaction of Odoo and Power BI, the data connection, cleansing and enrichment as well as the linking to dimension and key figure tables in order to extract useful information from the raw data to monitor the success of projects.

You are looking for a Business Intelligence solution for your company and are interested in helpful tools like Jedox or Power BI? Contact us now and we are a reliable partner to support you!

Time tracking with Odoo and manaTec
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