A professional services organization is inherently complex. You don’t develop a product that can be produced at a predictable rate and sold to a known customer base at an established price point. Instead you are selling an intangible – services, that must have an element of uniqueness every time a sale is made. Success depends on an effective, efficient, repeatable approach that can be adapted to each customer’s needs. You must convince potential clients that you understand their situation and have experience on similar initiatives, while still demonstrating a willingness and ability to develop a custom solution designed to address their specific challenges.
To be successful, particularly in a competitive landscape where many other professional services firms are pitching their solutions to the same target customers, you need to be sure your organization is as effective and efficient as possible. This is the traditional argument for professional services automation or PSA software – it helps drive effectiveness and efficiency by connecting your processes – delivery and billing for example, while freeing up staff from low value administrative tasks. PSA solutions do indeed deliver all of those benefits, but they also deliver another critical element – visibility.
An organization that has all elements of its operation integrated through an enterprise wide PSA solution will have a much better view of how the different parts of the firm work together. It will be able to identify those areas that are integrating seamlessly and those aspects of the business where there is still friction and inefficiency. At an individual level, management can identify those sales people who are achieving greater success by any number of different measures and can look to leverage their techniques across the organization. Similar trends can be identified among front line consultants – the individuals who are achieving the most effective and efficient delivery and can therefore be leveraged as role models across the firm.
While this PSA facilitated visibility should be seen as a macro level tool to identify opportunity to improve the operations of the organization as a whole, it can also create an environment of healthy competition between consultants. The ability to provide key metrics on a ‘by consultant’ basis allows for the most profitable consultant to be identified, the one with the highest customer satisfaction, the one with the fewest support calls, etc. These may not directly drive performance metrics at an individual level, but they do help to drive improvement across all individuals.
These benefits of PSA are all available ‘out of the box’ from effective solutions. They require nothing more than analysis of the management information already available through reporting and data consolidation engines included in PSA suites. The biggest challenge to accessing this information is the vision of a firm’s leadership to recognize that opportunities for improvement exist. Integrating the right technology provides the ability to prioritize those improvements that will create a competitive advantage and deliver the most meaningful strategic contribution. Regardless of how an organization is run, taking a look at how PSA tools can help them gain more visibility and control is the first step on the road to success.
About the Author: Kevin Sequeira is the General Manager for PSA by Upland. Kevin has been in the frontlines of the Professional Services Automation space for over 10 years and manages the PSA and Timesheet.com product lines at Upland Software. In addition to driving the business success of these products Kevin also leads the Upland Product Management Center of Excellence.
Learn more about Upland’s Software Enterprise PSA.