BigTime Software: Delivering Seamless Professional Services Automation

Brian Saunders, CEO Brian Saunders, the CEO of BigTime Software, hears from CIOs regularly—buzzing in with questions about the tools these CIOs use to manage professional services organizations. “CIOs are hired to help the management team address specific problems, whether around utilization, realization rates, pipeline management or even recruiting,” Saunders says. Most of the time, he explains, their organizations are dependent on disparate and legacy systems for operations which makes that data difficult to harvest. “They may use a lot of Excel-based or homegrown systems, and CIOs are typically hired to solve for that. The time and effort required to synchronize those disparate systems are massive,” he says. What CIOs really need is a system that provides “universal coverage.” And that’s where systems like BigTime come in. By delivering an all-in-one planning, time/expense tracking, billing and project management software, the company bundles industry best-practices and operational know-how into a single, elegant, easy-to-use online application that is as well compatible with their clients’ mobility infrastructures.

Modern professional services organizations—no matter how big, are increasingly finding this type of Professional Services Automation (or “PSA”) solution essential. While BigTime is one of many solutions built for managing professional services organizations, it is one of the few that is delivered as a pure SaaS solution. “The aim here is to empower CIOs who find themselves sitting in the middle of these types of human-powered operations,” mentions Saunders.

"We help project teams focus on key deliverables and the whole delivery lifecycle, so those project teams can work cohesively"

From a Confused CIO to a Successful one

While CIOs are competent in delivering world-class security, engineering and architecture, they often struggle to produce the metrics that drive a successful professional organization. This is one of the main reasons they fail. “The management teams at high-growth consulting firms are talented; otherwise the organization won’t have been successful in the first place. But being successful consultants doesn’t translate into successful professional services organizations,” states Saunders. “Disparate systems pose as a hurdle to streamlining organizational data. That’s when I hear from the CIO.”

His statement is well-substantiated. With its flagship product and unique approach, the company has assisted more than 5,000 professional firms to track over $2 billion of billable time each year. “We want to instill the DNA and traits of successful CIOs in every organization that we work with–allowing them all to become metrics-driven, open, and highly-collaborative,” mentions Saunders.
Based in Chicago, BigTime was founded in 2002, and its product was initially built to operate on web browsers with the databases deployed locally at each client’s premise. It was around 2011 when the company started to rethink its deployment model to align with emerging technological trends. “Cloud technologies were mature and starting to take hold in the market. Software companies like Salesforce were delivering complex SaaS solutions online. And, we were facing the challenges that come along with a growing software customer base,” says Saunders. The majority of customers would only upgrade the software when it stopped working—and an upgrade was an emergency situation. The company was spending more time supporting customer installations than developing new features for them. Seeing these trends and thinking about where it wanted to be in the future, BigTime re-worked its application and business models. The company raised additional capital and spent the next three years moving the application and customer base to the cloud. The rest, as they say, is history.

We want to in still the DNA and traits of successful CIOs in every organization that we work with—allowing them to become metrics-driven, open, and highly-collaborative

Establishing a Strong Market Presence

Today, BigTime's cloud-only approach has brought opportunities for delivering new service offerings. As the amount of data captured by its platform grew, BigTime built out teams to help coach its users on improving their workflows, uncovering best practices for industries built on billable hours. Although its primary focus area is around professional services firms in the US and Canada, BigTime has customers across a number of different industries.

The company stands out because, for one, it takes a consultative approach from initial sales contact to customer go-live; it makes every effort to ensure that customers’ needs and pain points are promptly and successfully addressed. At the time of onboarding a new client, the software provider works with them to identify their specific needs. Every customer has different goals, “Some customers are focused on their project pipeline, some need help with budgeting, some take too long to generate accurate invoices,” mentions Saunders. “We help project teams focus on key deliverables and the whole delivery cycle, so project teams can work cohesively.”

A Fully Automated and All-inclusive Solution

BigTime’s system presents users with a personalized dashboard that displays key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant for managing profitability including the total billability, all timesheets, and all invoices for the current period.
These dashboards can be easily tailored to present the information as needed to meet the unique requirements of each organization. Users can gain access to all key actions in the system from the menu at the top of their screens. The menu also provides quick access to the user’s current profile, internal system alerts, and an extensive help system. In addition, BigTime has expense tracking integrated into its solution. Once the time and expenses are logged into the system, BigTime’s solution provides a billing module for creating invoices and billing clients. Through this, BigTime delivers the ability to customize invoice templates (without programming) rapidly. “Invoices are managed throughout the project life cycle in real time and can be reviewed, adjusted, and approved online before being sent out,” comments Saunders. “We also offer an advanced reporting tool to help a company manage all activities.”

In addition to enabling users to develop reports from scratch, the solution houses several customizable report templates which users can leverage. It also allows them to filter and group data, search by date ranges, and save and share reports with staff such that they can pull real-time information on their own. Further, the solution’s user interface is responsive and supports any device that has a browser. The solution’s app version supports the feature to enter expenses and associated timelines from any mobile device. Multiple timers can be active on the app as they are not tied to an active project or task.

In an instance, BigTime helped 415 GROUP, a full-service company in pulling everything from its computer division into the billing system and right back out in its accounting system accurately, which saved its administrative personnel, at least 10 to 12 hours a month. That was the challenge facing the Northeast Ohio accounting leader when they decided to address the inadequacies of the time and billing software they had. “One of the things BigTime has helped us do is manage our growth. We’ve tripled our revenues and more than doubled our employees over the years, yet the software has allowed us to keep our administrative staff—three to four people— virtually the same. It was a real game-changer,” mentions a satisfied Rich Craig, the Managing Partner of 415 GROUP.

Towards a Big Data and AI Oriented Future

Having carved a unique niche in the professional services industry, BigTime is dedicated to improving the core product. The company will scale its growth path by adding positions across the organization, from sales and marketing to development and customer support groups. They also aim to integrate its solution with other products used by professional services organizations.

BigTime is also helping their customers mine their data, leveraging AI and big data. “Most of the successful CIOs are already leveraging these technologies, and our aim hinges on making everyone successful where they can deliver real-time professional services and grow their firms cohesively,” concludes Saunders.

BigTime Software

Chicago, IL

Brian Saunders, CEO

BigTime Software delivers an integrated time-tracking, billing and project management software for thousands of professional firms, tracking over $2 billion (USD) of billable time each year

BigTime Software