4 way signpost sign Image by ponci from Pixabay Kantata has published a whitepaper by Enterprise Times titled “How To Tell If Your Professional Services Organization Is Flagging.” Unusually, Kantata decided to publish it as a webpage rather than a downloadable PDF. However, when printing, the paper is 10 pages with an extra page that is part of the site rather than the whitepaper.

At the heart of the paper are two sections. The first explores four types of signals business leaders should use to identify organisational issues. The research is based on qualitative interviews with Kantata customers and Kantata executives whose quotes and advice are scattered throughout the piece. The second section looks at the four areas of action that organisations can tackle to change the signals.


The four signals relate to margin, utilisation, people and client. The research was carried out in the last few months and recognises that some signals have evolved since the cost of living crisis. It also highlights the consistent importance of forecasting, with Tom Schoen, CEO and president of BTM Global, saying, “If you’re not measuring yourself in the past and giving that as the way to look into the future, it’s going to be hard to run a services company.”

With growth harder, there is now a greater focus on costs. Organisations should look at margins from several dimensions, not just project and business margins but also overall client margins. Organisations should also consider what margin they look at. The whitepaper also draws on secondary resources, such as the 2022 SPI Maturity Benchmark report to understand a good margin for a business.

Utilisation is the next focus, with the research highlighting the importance of accurate reporting. Whilst it touches on healthy utilisation and what this means, it does not go into the details of how organisations calculate utilisation and what healthy utilisation is. Instead, it looks at the importance of forecasting and how it relates to resourcing. The metric is only valuable if the professional services tool can accurately forecast utilisation across the business.

Sarah Edwards, Chief Product Officer & CEO International Kimble Applications (Image credit/LinkedIn/Sarah Edwards)
Sarah Edwards, chief product officer & CEO International Kimble Applications

Wellbeing is increasingly discussed within organisations, but it is not the only one as Sarah Edwards, chief product officer at Kantata, noted, “People are looking at KPIs around efficiency, staff engagement, retention, training, and other KPIs that are bubbling up and becoming just as important as some financial metrics.”

As an HBR article considered, “The key to happy Customers? Happy Employees”. Another of the industry leaders interviewed reflected this view.

The final signal is those from clients. It affirms that customer satisfaction is still a key metric. However, it is not the only important metric one can apply to clients. The whitepaper considers a wider set of subtler signals that organisations can and should track.

What Can Be Done?

This short section covers the four elements of action.

  • Never forget that people are at the heart of every professional services business; forget that at your peril.
  • Find a tool that has worked in similar organisations and is delivered by people who understand the business.
  • Consider technology that supports organisations’ processes at every stage of growth. As revealed in a recent case study, CloudStratex considered this when making their decision.
  • Reiterates the common view of having a single source of data to increase visibility and transparency.

In conclusion

The whitepaper concludes by drawing attention to the importance of professional services tools, such as those sold by Kantata. It cites the SPI report, which says,

“PSA has become mandatory for project- and services-driven organizations to improve operational performance, better forecast, grow revenue, reduce cost, enhance quality and drive client and employee satisfaction – all while increasing profit. Every project and services-oriented organization with over 20 employees should seriously consider Professional Services Automation.”

With the right tool in place, the whitepaper argues, organisations can collect accurate and complete data from across the business. They should then be able to analyse that data to provide the signals that business leaders can use to steer their organisation into the future. Signals can provide insights into when things are going wrong and indicate changes that improve revenue and employee engagement.

This is not a job for spreadsheets but for a professional services tool delivered by professional services experts.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

This is an opinion piece based on a small sample of qualitative interviews. However, despite that, it throws up some useful insights. These insights are frequently backed by quantitative surveys, not least those quoted in the piece from Forrester and SPI. No registration is required for reading the whitepaper, and with a quickly changing market, there may be angles that some leaders have not considered.


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