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Empowering talent through streamlined practice management – SPI’s findings on the power of PSA

We’ve lived and worked through a lot of change recently. And it’s led to a revolution in the way we work, what we expect from our people – and what they expect from us.

To help your business navigate the disruption, we’ve partnered with Service Performance Insight to bring you a new white paper covering every aspect of how digital solutions can help your firm create the people experience you’ll need to keep business performing and your people engaged and productive.

Here are a few of our top highlights.

The professional services market has changed a lot – and it’s still changing

Despite ongoing disruption to the way we all do business, the professional services market has been quick to adjust – at least in part because much of the work done in this sector can happen remotely.

SPI have noted a downward trend in onsite project delivery over the last 5 years – although of course 2020 represents a real acceleration.

And in the midst of this acceleration, firms are looking for ways to make their employees and professionals more productive and profitable while providing an equivalent level of the in-person service their clients are used to.

In a remote world, information has become one of the most valuable resource available to most industries. And for service based industries, it is especially valuable – if your people are working in silos without all the data they need, they’re less efficient, less innovative, and less profitable. Silos inherently come with the problem of multiple datasets – which further disrupt workflows and cause inefficiency and dissatisfaction on both sides of the desk.

Balancing talent with service delivery will be vital for the future

To succeed in our new circumstances, practice managers will have to balance personnel (employee count, engagement, skill, cost, and availability) against their ability to deliver services at the level of quality and within the timeframes and budgets clients demand.

Successful practice management will therefore depend on the ability to quickly and easily analyze and adjust:

Resource management will be a critical issue as businesses grow and staffing complexity increases in line with project scopes. Treating resource management as a KPI will be vital because it acts as a useful early warning sign of too much or too little demand (as well as a signal to start the recruitment process).

Project management will likewise be key. The number of concurrent projects each PM is able to handle successfully represents a good proxy for project management efficiency. Larger and more complex projects will require a higher level of skill, dedicated PMs, and smaller, concurrent projects will tax the scheduling and resourcing skills of even the most accomplished specialists.

Billable utilization is a perennial concern for service-based firms, and one of the most analyzed KPIs in the industry. It’s highly correlated with profitability and productivity, and with higher client satisfaction and success. But also with your own people’s engagement levels. Organizations with lower utilization grow slowly and underperform the market, and those with higher utilization tend to outperform it and grow faster.

On time service delivery is one of SPI’s most critical KPIs, and according to this paper, failing to track it carries significant consequences. Client satisfaction decreases significantly – making it harder to sell continuing engagements. Late projects also delay other pending projects, further damaging revenue prospects and leaving even more clients dissatisfied. And very few organizations deliver all their work on time.

Maintaining a good record on all these measures depends on one major variable: attracting the right people, keeping them happy, and ensuring projects are staffed efficiently.

Doing this requires a strong people strategy, and a strong digital foundation

Technology has always been a driver for change in professional services, with a variety of solutions coming to market over the years that have improved many aspects of their operations.

But the approach of one-solution-to-one-problem has lead, inevitably, to a far greater issue: fragmentation.

Many executives have now realized that optimizing performance requires solutions that provide a clear view of the entire business – from the planning and budgeting stage right through to invoicing and reporting, and everything else in between. Operating as a single, unified entity isn’t a nice to have any more – in an age where efficiency is necessary for survival, the friction-laced approach of a well-intentioned series of organizational fragments represents a severe weakness.

The solution for achieving these new objectives (and traditional PS objectives too) is professional services automation (PSA)

The drive to run more effective and efficient practices has caused more and more practice managers to turn to Professional Services Automation solutions – an integrated application suite used to increase operational visibility and improve process efficiency.

SPI’s research has determined that service-based businesses making use of PSA report higher performance on every major KPI – and an overall boost to EBITDA profit of 33% compared to their peers who haven’t yet made the jump. To quote the white paper – “PSA is the one tool every practice manager should use to succeed.”

Want to learn more?

Check out Service Performance Insight’s full white paper Empower Talent through Streamlined Practice Management to see the data and recommendations. You can also watch our recent webinar with Dave Hofferberth of SPI on the effectiveness of new technological solutions in improving your efficiency, people experience and the importance of PSA within the ecosystem of a well-managed practice.

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