Forecast Introduces Powerful Tools to Manage Retainers

retainer management tools

Forecast introduces new long-awaited management and tracking opportunities for consultancies and other service-based companies who want to break out of the feast-or-famine cycle by signing retainer agreements. Retainers, a premium plan feature, make Forecast the first and the only platform for service-based companies to move from one-off time & material projects to long-term partnerships with a click of a button.

A new way to run retainer projects

The benefits of having retainer agreements have been well-documented. By securing the ongoing income every month and receiving a steady amount of payment in advance, businesses are able to sustain profits and eliminate the stressing part of generating a constant stream of new customers. Project-based companies can move from delivering project after project to becoming strategic partners. At the same time, clients rest assured that they will get proper attention whenever they push the red button or cry for help. However you approach it, retainers set a course for an even keel.

The dangerous thing about such agreements so far, however, has been the lack of reporting and transparency into insights reflecting how teams trade their hours and act on their promises. Ultimately, even the most solid partnerships could break down into pieces under the pressure of uncertainty and hesitation. That’s why, we’ve enabled another, more reliable and digestible way to manage recurring projects – Retainers – giving professional service firms a unique first-of-its-kind opportunity to improved client relationships and consistent profit through AI-powered project management.

how to manage retainer projects

Now you can track the financial picture of your long-term retainer agreements without losing reference to the workloads of your staff and the time they spent delivering services during a certain period of time. Continue reading to learn how.

Retainer management made simple

For starters, the Retainer module has been built into the Forecast platform to cater for managers who want to keep working on a retainer basis, but need a holistic overview of how their retainer agreements get translated into actual work and move forward.

The automation and interconnectivity in the platform allow project managers to get the needed insights into how each Retainer is performing, and simply monitor the flow of their retainers to work more wisely. The insights help managers see the profitability beforehand and establish a strong collaboration with clients, where you don't just solve tasks, but also function as strategic partners advising them in what direction to go.

Retainer status and totals for each period 

Forecast presents project managers and financial controllers with the opportunity to monitor retainers in a visually appealing graph. It provides an overview of all defined retainer targets. If needed, the targets can continuously be adjusted in each period by either rolling over the target to the next period(s) or subtracting hours from it if the target was exceeded. The flexibility allows project managers to control the Retainers and ensure the revenue stream is kept.

Period Totals: Period Target, Planned Time, Time Entries

Follow the period totals in the graph. The graph shows you the correlation between Retainer Target, Planned Hours, and Time Entries. Comparing the different lines, you can track the progression and decide what needs to be communicated to the customer. Furthermore, it removes the need for manual routine work to report on retainers, because you can clearly discern the difference between planned vs actual work. This way, what you've invested in the client and how your retainer project is being managed becomes completely transparent. Overall, the conclusion to roll over or subtract some of the period targets is simple to make.

The automation replaces what was previously more hand held. Now, you can use it for showing the clients how much work you’ve completed and the management team can clearly see the administration of tasks and targets. Based on the insights you get, it’s easy to have a conversation on both fronts.

A holistic picture of past, present & future periods

For your convenience, Forecast provides a comprehensive panorama of all your retained periods, so you can analyze and compare the performance on locked periods and plan rationally in the future. Locking a period, you’ll be able to roll over the unused value and price, and stay on top of how and where you’re spending costs.

Retainer periods rollover and progress

This view gives you a detailed snapshot of how each period has been progressing. Look at the period target and see where the roll-over comes from and how it affects the period. Have all past, current, or future periods in one place and drill down to analyze each from the perspective of progress and time spent. No matter if they are locked or not, you can track all the needed insights to manage the team's schedule more wisely and efficiently.

Usually, you’ll see that the work was primarily done at the end of the period. As a workaround, you might want to split the month and run two retainers – one where you worked in the beginning of the month and one where you worked during its second half.

Retainer Periods reflected in scoping

Working on a retainer basis, you can scope your projects in periods, using milestones and phases throughout the period. This way you can track how team performance on each period brings you closer to the end of the defined milestone. It is achieved through visualizing Retainer Periods in your project plan.

Retainer periods in scoping

Periods are reflected in scoping. Scope your project and ensure you reach the period target. Get the needed understanding and learning of what is actually possible to add to the period. See when you've reached the target, so you don't have to discuss or keep turning to the records to make sure you remember the retainer agreement.

Retainers for everyone

Retainers were built to fit your company’s operating procedure. It means that you can either organize work in Forecast’s Retainers around Fixed Hours, Fixed Price, or Time & Material contracts. The view will change according to your preference. If you work with support tasks and issue tickets, you’d benefit from the Time & Material view of Retainers and the ability to keep track of how many tasks you solve each month. Locking the period and using the invoicing module in Forecast, you can easily invoice your client based on the actual time registered on the tasks. Read more about how to use Retainers in our help center, or watch our webinar on how to set up and run retainer projects:

Forecast is one unified project management platform powered by Artificial Intelligence. Automation helps you make success predictable and no matter what type of projects you run, it can be managed in a level of efficiency rarely offered. Estimating tasks in Forecast, you see if you are reaching the period target or not. Manual work is being automated so you can focus on generating the revenue stream. 

Retainers in Forecast help you build long-term relationships with clients giving you a clear understanding of how the time has been spent. It opens the new promising chapter in retainer management with a bunch of opportunities to organize work and achieve profitability through creating transparency across your business operations.


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