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Learn how FP&A helps PSOs grow the bottom line

Professional services organizations (PSOs) focused on delivering services for their clients are currently facing one of the most challenging times in recent history. Profit margins depend on excellence in project execution and keeping a sharp eye on billable hours.

CFOs and their teams have been under immense pressure to evolve from recording and evaluating data into strategic business partners. They now provide C-suites with meaningful business intelligence, provide rapid decision-making support, and steer the organization in a profitable and sustainable direction using financial planning and analysis (FP&A).

Click to read FP&A product brochure - blog - FG

So what exactly do we mean by FP&A?

Financial planning and analysis is a set of planning, forecasting, budgeting, and analytical activities that provide data to support a company's core business decisions and overall financial health. Using tech tools to streamline FP&A allows for fast and accurate financial analysis and advice for business leaders so they can anticipate the impact of decisions on cash flow and the bottom line and assess and monitor the overall financial health and investments of the company.

FP&A supports the creation and maintenance of detailed financial models and forecasts and allows finance teams to build agile, integrated financial plans that consider multiple scenarios. It works with departments to prepare and consolidate budgets, aligns business strategy with execution, and monitors performance. It also helps to identify risks and opportunities.

Planning and forecasting

FP&A provides the data to create financial forecasts that predict how the business will operate in the future and whether it will be on track to achieve its goals. Financial forecast models can then be used to test different scenarios, assess the impact of different variables, and determine best practices to achieve the right results.

When an organization knows the people that are needed for a project, it can see how long those people are going to be committed to the given engagement. They can see the cost profile against it and how it will impact the margin and make informed decisions about which people to place on which projects depending on their individual time costs. Having the forecast in the FP&A system helps to make sure that expectations are being set and the margin targets are being met.


Utilization rates show how much of your people’s available time is spent on billable work. If the rate is too high, you may need to add more resources; if it is too low, you must try to bring in more work. Professional services organizations are starting to recognize that staying on an old, difficult-to-integrate system means reduced operational efficiency compared to a more modern solution. These newer solutions have tight integrations and broader capabilities that provide a complete view of operations, so companies can improve utilization, better manage their resources to serve clients faster, and deliver more projects on time while improving margins. 

Scenario planning

Scenario planning and analysis is a scheduling method rising in popularity. When looking at multiple scenarios, analysts can make assumptions about what could happen in the future. They can anticipate the consequences and create a response plan for each credible scenario.

Predictive scheduling

Predictive scheduling enables FP&A teams to create a model for large data sets of past performance, and this time series forecast model is used to predict future performance. Predictive analytics supports scheduling tools, especially when integrated into a single solution.

Driver-based planning

Driver-based planning enables analysts to identify key business success factors and then create plans that mathematically show how different variables will affect these factors.


FP&A teams can estimate expenses based on strategic plans and allocate the spending budget to each department. They can also predict revenue and cash flow to be generated. Whole enterprise budgets are generally created on an annual basis, and updates are made quarterly as conditions change; however, unstable markets have meant that many forward-thinking organizations are now using zero-based budgeting that prevents overspending through the constant evaluation of costs and expenses.

Monitoring performance

FP&A teams continuously analyze financial data and monitor performance and KPIs to provide sound decision-making advice to the business. They create analytical reports and data visuals that give future profit forecasts and tell business leaders which services will be most profitable in the future.

FP&A technology

Automation and the cloud are changing the FP&A landscape, making it easier to plan, budget, and forecast more accurately. Companies using these technologies in their FP&A have an advantage over competitors as they can predict the future much more precisely, making it easier to uncover trends, patterns, correlations, and analytics that might otherwise be missed.

Industry-specific professional services cloud software solutions help organizations tackle the rise in customer demands, added project complexities, and constant regulation changes or delays. They can:

  • Drive project profitability and control projects in real-time, preventing issues before they occur and ensuring the capture of all billables.
  • Optimize utilization, putting people in the right places to drive results, tracking income from billable hours, and tracing people-related costs. They can manage program and project performance, balance people skills with your projects and pipeline, and carefully manage the use of subcontractors.
  • Bill with precision while monitoring financial performance trends. They can accurately plan, budget, forecast, receive instant and accurate reporting, and manage actuals versus budget for programs and projects.
  • Win more business – because they now have data that tells them where to compete (and where not to). They can create accurate, profitable, and consistent bids and use past successes as a model to win and deliver successful new projects.

Conventional, labor-intensive legacy systems and disjointed manual processes no longer meet these needs. Now, with the added complexity of remote working, decreasing project scopes, and postponed or canceled projects, it’s never been more essential to take control and ensure your technology is future-proof and ready to adapt to a changing world.

Tracking time must be accurate, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and FP&A systems need to be easy to use. Easy time entry allows revenue to be realized in the system and gives an accurate financial picture with no revenue leakage.

How can Unit4 FP&A help PSOs with resource management?

We have deep knowledge of PSOs and their processes. With the right technology supporting you, you can focus on the People Experience to help free your professionals to do more of what matters: attracting, supporting, and retaining clients.

Our people-centric, project-focused solutions are purpose-built. Firms can better manage their businesses with industry-leading software for ERP, FP&A, and Human Capital Management (HCM).

Check out Unit4's People Experience suite. Our solutions support all types of PSOs worldwide, offering unbeatable functionality.

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Bryce Wolf

Bryce Wolf

Senior Manager, Industry Solutions

Bryce Wolf is a Senior Manager of Industry Solutions at Unit4 and is responsible for the delivery of Unit4’s product strategy for our strategic verticals. He is responsible for the delivery of Unit4’s PSO Industry Models and MESH, and works closely with Product Directors to ensure a complete end to end solution for Professional Services Organizations. Bryce has experience in consulting and product strategy at Oracle+NetSuite, JDA Software, FinancialForce, and management consulting firms prior to joining Unit4 in 2021.