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Tackling Professional Services’ Organizational Challenges with Multiple Priorities

Published By Steve Beaumont
Tackling Professional Services’ Organizational Challenges with Multiple Priorities

During a webcast with SPI Research called, Leadership in Large Professional Services Organizations: Dwell or Excel, we discussed the latest research on the topic of trends in project-based businesses and how executive leadership is influencing the priorities of delivery excellence and project automation.

Something interesting happened when we polled the audience of more than 150 professional services (PS) experts, and compared their responses to the same question posed to survey participants of the annual, PS Maturity Benchmark survey.

Live Poll Question: What challenge has the highest priority from your executives?

The top selection among those polled claimed achieving revenue and margin targets posed the greatest challenge and held the highest priority for executives.

Comparing the surveys, the study respondents claimed their top organizational challenge was:

  • The ability to support growth and expansion in 2012
  • Talent management in 2013
Comparison of 2012 and 2013 survey results for PS maturity top organizational challenges

Why the Disparity?

There are three possible reasons for this polarity in responses:

  1. Very likely, the people reading this research and attending this particular webcast are seeking tangible process solutions and improving revenue, margins, and targets are a matter of modus operandi.
  2. This shift of priorities described by the research has yet to be embraced (and should be).
  3. There is a new, concerted effort to return LOB focus on revenue.

Of course, in reality all of these challenges will be important to some extent to executives within PS firms. All but one of these challenges identified in the survey has a higher score than the previous year, indicating that they are seen as more important than previously. With the opportunity for growth for PS firms increasing, particularly within North America, the need to support growth and expansion while managing margins will be a major driver of operations professionals.

On the other hand, the pressures to hire and retain talented people are bound to be a consequence, along with the need for improved consistency and quality of the services delivered. To achieve sustainable growth, a PS firm must seek continuous improvement, both in the value of their services and the maturity of their processes and systems. With the appropriate solutions in place, PS can better manage business operations while providing executives visibility into performance that helps drive better business outcomes.

Key Takeaways

Regardless of which polling response aligns with your priorities: None of these operational KPIs can be achieved without ensuring the marketing and sales of services is done more successfully. As the supporting research report, Dwell or Excel: Leadership in Large Professional Services Organizations explains, “Close integration between the sales and delivery functions allows for better estimating of the service costs and improved resource demand and capacity planning.”

Ultimately many of the organizational challenges that ranked highest in SPI’s survey need to be on the priority lists of PS firms and the actions taken to address these challenges, monitored closely. Regardless of how an organization seeks to tackle or prioritize improvements, there is real benefit from a pipeline view from quote-to-cash.

To learn more watch the SPI Dwell or Excel webcast, hosted by yours truly and download the free research report, Dwell or Excel: Leadership in Large Professional Services Organizations.

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Written by Steve Beaumont

Steve Beaumont is the SRP Solutions Market Manager at Planview and has worked in the Professional Services area for almost 25 years. He spent 12 years working as a Management Consultant for Deloitte, Coopers & Lybrand, and Ernst & Young, where team managed a team of consultants and had responsibility for managing the work pipeline, making resourcing decisions and ensuring that projects were delivered to a high quality whilst also managing the P&L. He also has spent a number of years working in the software industry helping to sell, implement and drive the enhancement of software solutions designed to help both PSOs and IT organizations to manage their businesses and delivery successful projects. Steve’s career started as a Management Accountant, from which he progressed into designing accounting software for use within the telecom company that he worked for.