It’s the time of year when people start to think about what changes they’d like to make for themselves and their business. Professional services is no different! January always feels like the perfect time to refresh our goals, think about strategy and plan for the future.
Here are the resolutions we think will be common across PS firms this year. How many of these are on your list?
1. We Will Set up a Governance Model
You should have processes for client onboarding, proposal creation and project closedown. There are core points in the project lifecycle where you should be applying sensible governance procedures. What we sometimes see is that professional services organizations start with these on a very informal basis. That can work, when your firm only has a handful of staff. But when you scale, you need processes and a model that supports all the work you do, from bid to bill to close. Clients expect a level of formality, and you should have a way of offering that, and keeping control of the engagements you undertake.
If you don’t have a governance model for your project management lifecycle, think about what you can do this year to introduce some improvements. That might mean more formal project management or introducing project workflows to guide your team through the correct processes.
2. We Will Update Our Skills Database
When was the last time you updated your team’s skills? Is the intern from three years ago still on the system with basic coding knowledge, even though she’s been leading client development projects for some time? When you know all your team personally, it can feel as if maintaining a skills database is an unnecessary overhead. However, as your business scales, you need to rely on resource managers to allocate the best staff to the right clients, at a cost effective rate.
Make some time in the next few months to review the information you hold about staff. Have you fully captured all their skills? Is there someone who can be charged out to clients at a higher rate because of the new experience they have? Make the changes. It’s also worth reviewing the resource profile as a whole. Look at the kind of projects you have booked for the year already. Do you have the right skills to deliver those? If not, how are you going to resource the work? Look at who needs some training, coaching or additional support and plan that in at an appropriate point in the year. Then they’ll be ready to take on the next client engagement when it comes.
3. We Will Learn Advanced Reporting
How much are you really getting out of your project analytics? You’ve got a powerful analytics engine at your fingertips, and yet we talk to many customers who aren’t using their software to its full capacity.
Enterprise-wide, powerful reporting can help you:
- Drive efficiencies through managing multiple projects in parallel
- Review workloads of different teams or work groups at the same time
- Forecast workload and demand more effectively
- Run scenarios of how project changes or new initiatives will affect staffing levels
- And lots more
The out-of-the-box dashboards are perfect for day-to-day team and project management, but sometimes you need a bit more. Look at what additional reports and features you could make use of, and play around. You might find something that will have a direct impact on how you manage resource allocation and revenue.
4. We Will Streamline Our Workflows
When was the last time you looked critically at the workflows you set up? Often, processes are put in place and then left. They might be perfectly acceptable, still efficient and fit for purpose. But they might not be. You won’t know unless you review and check. If your business has changed over the past year, whether you’ve taken on new consultants and staff, scaled your business, onboarded new clients, or simply refined your focus, it’s likely that your workflows aren’t working for you as well as they should.
Book some time to go through one or two of the most commonly used workflows in the business. Check how people are using them. You will most likely find that people who use the workflows regularly have some ideas about how to improve them. Improvements normally mean streamlining, stripping out steps, and building in more efficiency. That has to be good!
5. We Will Reduce Revenue Leakage
It’s not something many professional services firms like to talk about, but you’ll have a feeling about whether you are capturing as much revenue as you should be. Revenue leakage happens when you aren’t billing clients for the work that’s done on their behalf. This is often because team members don’t book time and expenses to the right project codes, or they don’t book them at all.
Make a plan to look at revenue leakage in your business and to take a couple of steps to minimize it where you can. For example:
- Make sure all consultants have access to the mobile app for entering timesheet data and expenses. The easier it is to enter the data, the more likely it is that they’ll do it on time.
- Educate your teams on the importance of accurate capture.
- Listen to the challenges they face when booking hours or expenses. You might find, for example, that giving people access to the right project codes is a simple way to capture more revenue and bill for the work you are already doing.
You’re sure to find other simple tweaks to your processes that will help you stop leakage and increase revenue without taking on any more work.
What will your business resolutions be for 2019? If you need some more ideas to help spark creativity, then watch Make Better Business Decisions With A Connected PSA: a webinar that will show you what’s possible for your business. There are bound to be suggestions in there to help you scale your firm and support your clients.