I got a request from a consultant friend of mine. He was wondering about the best way to capture costs of installations. In my experience, there are 2 very different ways of handling this, and much of it is related to the size/complexity of the installations and the amount of data you are willing to maintain in order to accomplish this. Let me talk a little about the 2 methods. In the end, both are great, but you should be able to look at the situation and decide which one fits your needs best. Now, my quick disclaimer. I am by no means a PS expert. There quite probably many things I’m leaving out of the discussion, and I encourage you to talk to a PS expert if you think you need to go down that path :).
1. Project Systems. This method is typically reserved for large installation (in my opinion). The nature of project systems is that there is a lot of functionality, but there is also a lot of data to maintain in order to use it. In PS, you can have multiple different cost collectors, full project tracking, production orders, service orders, purchase orders, etc. all of these things traceable inside of a network/WBS. I recommend this approach for anything that is large and may require any sort of planning functionality (for example, planning multiple service technicians, material reciepts, contractors, etc…). Most importantly, if you need to track it like a project, it should be a project. As far as costs/price go, usually resource related billing is used to track this since it is often a time and materials type activity.
2. Service Management. this is method is gonna be the down and dirty method. It’s a single service order (with the ability to make some sub service orders if you so desire). It will still allow you to plan components and operations, but from a simple order structure. You use this approach typically for anything small that doesn’t require a full project plan to coordinate (or if you want to do the project planning in MS Project and that’s good enough for your purposes). The installation service order can be spawned directly from a sales order. You can still use resource related billing for the cost/price determination in the sales order.
In my experience, the biggest thing you lose between SM and PS is the reporting and scheduling functionality. PS is far superior in this respect, but if it’s overkill for your needs, you can get by with a much more simple approach in using the service order.
I hope this sheds some light on the differences.
Thanks for reading,