Sean Hoban, co-founder and CEO of Kimble Applications, kicked off Kimble Connect 2021. His keynote focused on bouncebackability or how professional services firms are bouncing back from the pandemic. Kimble Connect was split up over three days and in a window of time that Geoff Pople, Chief Customer Officer at Kimble described as the golden hour in an interview published earlier this week about the event. Conducted over Zoom, the sessions enabled attendees to ask and have answered, questions during each of the sessions.

Looking back

Sean Hoban, CEO, Kimble Applications
Sean Hoban, CEO, Kimble Applications

Hoban commenced with a brief look back at the impact of the pandemic. He highlighted four challenges that PSO’s had to overcome during the pandemic:

  1. Remote working at scale meant that PSO’s had to set up collaborative technology and ensure that systems and processes were effective.
  2. Disruption to existing projects with cancellations, postponements and dealing with the remote working challenges.
  3. There is pressure on rates as customers look to cut costs.
  4. Employee engagement is much harder working remotely.

Hoban rightly highlighted that although Zoom and other technologies have enabled collaboration they have issues. He said, “Collaboration has been a key challenge for us over the last 14 months. It still presents a challenge. Despite the tools that are available, now, the Teams and the Zooms of this world, it’s still hard to replace those whiteboard moments. Zoom and Teams still has that staccato, sequential sort of experience, which we’ve learned to get used to, and we’ve learned how to behave and respond.”

Looking forward

Hoban believes that there is a huge pent up demand for professional services. There are two factors. Firstly, the deferred projects that organisations now want to work on. Secondly, many organisations having shed staff during the pandemic, are more likely to turn to PSO’s to fill that additional gap, rather than recruit.

Hoban believes there is a huge opportunity. He noted: “The firm’s who adopt that digital-first way of thinking and operating should be able to come out of this with a first-mover advantage and benefit from some increased efficiencies from streamlined operations that have been created during the pandemic.”

Hoban sees that Kimble PSA can help organisations as they continue to transform. The point of the Connect event was to show many different ways in which a customer can leverage Kimble and increasing efficiency across the organisation. What Kimble can help provide firms is better bouncebackability. However, Hoban sensibly noted that there are other areas organisations need to address.

Bouncebackability

Hoban highlighted five areas that professional services need to consider for bouncebackability. He noted: “It’s now time to build a competitive moat around your business to ensure that it is a sustainable bounce back.”

Is a moat a good analogy? Moats need maintenance and also require constant resources to replenish which is why many medieval castles were built near rivers or streams to constantly fill them up. Organisations cannot be complacent and believe that once a moat is built and filled, does not need revisiting. Hoban highlighted five areas:

  • Employee centric thinking
  • Enhance your Service Catalogue
  • Demonstrate customer empathy
  • Create a resilient and secure environment
  • Work Smarter and adopt a technology-enabled operating model

Hoban then dove into each of these topics in detail. With some insights that many organisations should heed.

Employee centric thinking

He highlighted the risk of employee burnout. He commented, “We’re going to see that the need to let people wind down and avoid burnout wherever we can. A good solution to that is to try and resurrect some of the social activities that happened in organisations before.”

Hoban believes that firms will need to focus more on resource management within time zones to limit both travel and extending work hours.

Enhance your Service Catalogue

All organisations have changed during the pandemic, PSO’s need to check that the services they now offer are those that customers still need. Hoban added: “It’s important to look at the services that you’re delivering and see whether they need to be amended in any way. Do you need to be able to offer more flexibility around the delivery or your working patterns? Do you need to utilise technology to enable some new service offerings?”

The example he gave was remote working. Organisations should also review the informal processes adopted during the pandemic and ensure they are best in class going forward.

Demonstrate customer empathy

Hoban acknowledged that business models may need to change. Subscriptions and deferred payment for sectors still in crisis might need consideration. Find the right service model for each customer segment. PSO’s need to consider specific customer situations closer.

While there are risks with such as approach, if the PSO, for example, can increase the survivability of a customer without crippling cash flow in the short term, they may gain a loyal, repeat customer.

Create a resilient and secure environment

Hoban wisely touched on cybersecurity. It is not an area that Kimble specifically supports customers on, though its platform is secure. It is one that needs a holistic approach across everything, both physical and digital. Remote working has introduced new risks. Hoban said: “Security has become an even more pressing issue that needs to be addressed, no matter what size of firm you are!”

Work Smarter and adopt a technology-enabled operating model

This is where Kimble is able to help across many areas within PSO’s. Hoban highlighted four:

  • Utilise global resource pools and teams
  • Learn to collaborate using the right tool
  • Ensure appropriate information is readily available and accessible to each function
  • Automate more of the repetitive tasks

Kimble PSA can help

For customers that have already invested in Kimble, its iconic tube map demonstrates the areas that they can improve. Hoban highlighted several recent and near-future improvements to Kimble PSA.

  • Create and use templates for proposals for standard service catalogue items
  • Auto matching of resources against the requirement. This feature is not new but is constantly enhanced and provides suggestions for approval
  • Timesheet Automation. Timesheet reminders and the automated approval of timesheets within tolerances can increase efficiency
  • Scheduled reporting and dashboards
  • Batch invoicing, Kimble can save the finance team hours with this automation feature

This was an insightful keynote, rich in content that left answers as well as questions in its wake. In summary, Hoban’s message is that with strong leadership and smart technology PSO can achieve the sustainable bouncebackability they will need post-pandemic

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