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Many businesses need to track revenue over time in salesforce.

For example:

  • Capital equipment items that the customer draws down or pays for over time.
  • Professional services to deliver projects over time.
  • Maintenance contracts in which revenue spans 12, 24 or 36 months.
  • Software-as-a-Service (Saas) licenses on fixed term or open-ended contracts.
  • Transactional items in which you anticipate the customer will buy a significant volume over goods every month, but with no guaranteed amount.

Do any of these apply to you? Perhaps several do.

It’s common for businesses to have a mix of different revenue streams over time on the same opportunity, some managed by framework agreements.

Unfortunately, many companies do one of two things when it comes to tracking revenue over time in salesforce.

The first is they perform this critical activity outside salesforce. They perceive it’s simply too difficult to do in the system.

This means those companies lose valuable visibility of committed and scheduled revenue. This impacts account management, business development, target tracking, revenue forecasting and performance management.

Alternatively, they add numerous fields to the opportunity. These fields capture revenue for Q1, Q2 and so on for each year.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to produce meaningful reports this way. It also results in one heck of a mess on the page layout.

There’s no need to take either of these routes.

It’s perfectly possible to track revenue over time in salesforce. The result is a significant increase in the benefits you generate from your salesforce licenses.

Two ways to track revenue over time in salesforce

Essentially, there are two options.

Option 1 is to use the standard product schedules feature in salesforce. This works well for many businesses. However, there are significant limitations, which we’ll explain.

Option 2 is to use a custom schedule solution. This solves the limitations of the standard schedule functionality. It’s a dynamic and powerful approach to tracking revenue over time in salesforce that is already benefiting many of our customers.

So let’s start with the standard approach.

Option 1 – Standard product schedules

Here’s how the standard product schedule feature works in salesforce.

The salesperson adds one or more Products to an Opportunity in the normal way.

The salesperson then creates a Schedule for each line item. They do this by clicking on the product line item on the opportunity, then on the Establish button.

This provides the page to enter the details about the schedule for that product on the opportunity.

This generates the product schedule that tracks revenue over time for the first product.

The salesperson repeats the process for any other products on the opportunity.

Advantages of standard product schedules

  • It’s standard functionality with no need to purchase separate app or salesforce.
  • Reports and dashboard chart can track revenue over time using standard product schedules.

Disadvantages of standard product schedules

  • The user interface is cumbersome. For example, the salesperson must drill down to each product line item in order to create the schedule.
  • If the opportunity close date changes, the schedules do not automatically shift. However, you can solve this problem with our Schedule Shifter app.
  • It’s impossible to customize or adapt the standard schedules. For example, you cannot add a Status field to track Booked, Shipped, Invoiced, Paid values. You also cannot schedule by margin or other values.
  • There’s no ability track committed and pipeline revenue over time against current and future targets.

The standard approach is appropriate if you normally have only one product per opportunity and you want an out-of-the-box way to track revenue over time.

Option 2 – Custom Schedules

A custom schedule approach overcomes the limitations of the standard product schedule feature.

Tracking revenue over time in salesforce using custom schedules means you can:

  • Forecast both committed and pipeline revenue over time.
  • Compare revenue over time in salesforce with targets.
  • Update revenue you previously forecasted based on ‘actuals’.
  • Adjust forecasts of future revenue based on current expectations.
  • Analyse revenue over time by product category, territory and other parameters.

Your system administrator can build the custom schedule solution, alternatively or you can use the pre-built GSP Custom Schedule app. We’ll demonstrate how the app works here.

When the salesperson adds one or more products to the opportunity then several additional fields are available.

For each product, these fields define:

  • The method of scheduling the revenue over time. More on this below.
  • The start date when the revenue over time will begin.
  • The number of months for the revenue over time.

Clicking Save simultaneously adds the products to the opportunity AND the associated revenue schedules.

At any time, salespeople can use the Edit Line Item Schedules button to return modify the schedules and change the way salesforce tracks the revenue over time.

Close Date changes

If the opportunity close date changes at any point, then the custom schedules automatically adjust by the same number of days.

For example, if the opportunity close date moves by 20 days then all schedules that track revenue over time also shift by 20 days. This avoids salespeople continuously re-aligning schedules and maintains the accuracy of revenue forecasts.

Track revenue over time in reports and dashboards

Additional information is stored on the schedule including product, margin details and ‘actuals’. This information is available for reports and dashboards.

Track revenue over time against Target

Each custom schedule links automatically to a Target record. This means salespeople and managers can immediately assess whether there is sufficient committed and scheduled revenue over time to meet quota.

Straight-line and S-curve revenue forecast

It’s easy to understand why you want to schedule revenue over time in salesforce using a straight line.

Service contracts, maintenance agreements, repayments on capital goods, Saas licenses – they all need the ability to track revenue over time in a straight line.

However, project work is often different. For example, frequently you have a period of mobilization in the early stages. Then you get into the heavy lifting of the project. Finally a period of testing and commissioning in which the revenue tails off.

An s-curve therefore accurately tracks the revenue on month projects. With the GSP Custom Schedule App, simply select the S-curve option in defining the schedule. The app automatically schedules revenue over time in an S-curve profile.

Advantages of standard product schedules

  • Easy for salespeople to us.
  • Flexibility to define different revenue profiles over time for each opportunity product.
  • Forecast accuracy is maintained because schedules automatically shift when the close date changes.
  • Track additional information over time including margin and actuals.
  • Track pipeline and committed revenue over time in salesforce.

Disadvantages of standard product schedules

  • Requires more setup than the standard product schedule feature (although our app takes care of this).

Many business already track revenue over time salesforce. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our help in becoming one of them.

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