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Improving Operations in Professional Services Organizations

July 24, 2012BY AMS Editor

A research report entitled “Operations Excellence in Professional Services Firms published by Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory notes some interesting facts about the problems facing services firms. They include:

  • Increased price sensitivity of clients
  • Increased complexity of services
  • More demanding clients
  • Difficulty in developing scale and expertise in smaller growth markets

Price and Profitability

When it comes to pricing, a major issue is measuring client profitability. Lacking adequate tools to track the resources and effort put into projects, including program management, unanticipated requirements, and others, firms struggle to adequately assess the value of an overall client account.

Identifying the most profitable customers and being able to track costs per project is a key requirement if your professional services firm wants to improve operational efficiency.

Managing Complex Services

As services become more complex and clients more demanding, managing resources and delivery of such services is of paramount importance. Having systems in place that allows you to effectively plan and manage your resources, manage your talent and disseminate information is crucial.

Streamlining Operations to Meet Demand

Clients now demand faster delivery and higher quality services. With timeframes shortened your only option is to become more effective, streamline your operations and provide services that meet client demands. If you don’t, your competition will likely take notice and fill that gap.

When it comes to improving operations to meet client demands, technology and systems that support your activities are of utmost importance. Resource tracking, management of subcontractors, and billing cannot be managed via spreadsheets anymore. They must be handled by systems made for the job. Improving your IT infrastructure is a critical first step.

Serving Growth Markets

In the race to gain a foothold in new markets, professional services firms often face the challenge of partnering with local resources and managing remote employees. As firms struggle to coordinate resources and integrate different systems, their utilization rates suffer and operations are impacted.

If your firm plans on going after such markets, implementing appropriate systems is a critical first step to ensure that scheduling, delivery, and project management are optimized.

Improving Professional Services Operations

In order to tackle the challenges outlined above, a new mindset has to permeate your organization. Four key areas where your company should focus include:

  1. Delivery: the assets, intellectual property and technology to deliver services
  2. Operations support>: processes for decision making, facilities and other supporting activities
  3. Customer: providing support for sales, marketing, and customer management
  4. Resources>: ensuring that resources are trained and empowered to perform

Supporting your processes and the core areas described above are your systems and technology. This involves finance and accounting, customer relationship management, reporting and business intelligence, project management, vendor management, recruiting, compensation, and talent management. SAP Business ByDesigncan provide you with the foundations for improving how your professional services firm operates.

If you’d like to discuss how your professional services firm operates and ways in which you can leverage the IT infrastructure to better support your operations, please contact us today.

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