7 factors to consider when choosing a solution to improve professional services performance - Image by StockSnap from Pixabay Any growing professional services organization must ensure that it has the right culture, processes, and solutions to scale effectively. The challenge is that the realities of running a business will often cause culture to become fragmented, processes to become broken, and over time solutions are no longer fit for purpose. And when an important solution can no longer provide the support a business needs, companies can feel the negative effects across the organization. There are several reasons why existing applications no longer serve the organization. Perhaps they were badly installed, the software vendor no longer exists, there are no further updates, or the original requirements have evolved so much that the software is no longer right for the company and cannot be modified to fit.

In addition, it may have been a point solution, such as a time recording, expenses, or task management solution that can no longer keep up with increasingly complicated demands. One of the most common instances is that the organizational functions have selected an application that fits their requirements. However, gaps have emerged between the functions, and there is often no automated flow of information between the different systems of record.

What is needed is something to fill in those gaps, a solution that is purpose-built to help professional services organisations improve performance holistically. While there are several solutions in the market that claim to deliver improvements to performance, running the gamut from professional services automation (PSA), to project portfolio management (PPM), to work management and beyond. The important thing to evaluate is how sustainable these improvements are and how the solution will support your organization as it continues to grow.

Selecting a solution that can deliver transformational results over the long-term can be a challenge. This blog suggests seven factors business leaders should consider when selecting a solution to improve professional services performance.

1. Demand and Supply

Professional services organizations must balance sales against the ability to deliver services successfully. Does the selected solution offer automated data replication between the sales components (CRM) and the delivery solution? Is the information collected during the opportunity and deal-making stage passed automatically to the project teams to deliver against what is promised?

2. Data Flow

Rarely does a professional services solution like PSA sit in isolation within any organization. The data model underpinning the solution should be able to transfer data to and from the other best-in-class systems of record within the organization, whether that is CRM, HCM, finance, or even ERP. It is also not just about data flows. A modern PSA solution should have open APIs that help connect workflows between solutions, enabling the digitization of the whole organization.

3. Health Measurements

At the heart of a professional services business is the delivery of projects. Can the new solution measure the pulse and the health of the business? Does it identify the current time spent, costs, and revenues that projects are delivering and are forecast to deliver? Will it highlight how well a project progresses against agreed timescales and budgets? Will it highlight the symptoms of a failing project and offer recommendations for remedies?

4. Scalability

Does your organization have the ambition to scale? If so, check if the solution and its references demonstrate a capability to scale to the size of the organization you wish to become. It is also worth considering whether something unique about your business requires an unusually large amount of data or workflows for operational processes. For example, perhaps your business model requires a large number of resources to complete projects; can the solution cope with that volume?

5. Flexibility

The only constant is change. It’s a well-used phrase that still applies today with different external forces imposing changes in business conditions. The system should not just be configurable during the implementation stages. Superusers should be able to adjust configuration settings to change how the system works to meet today’s demands. Can the vendor demonstrate the configuration capabilities of the solution during demonstrations?

Another question worth asking the vendor is whether the work undertaken during the sales process is carried forward into the implementation phase. There is nothing more frustrating for end users than explaining their processes twice to the same organization.

6. Positive References

Andrew White, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, recently wrote in a blog: “Vendor(/User) references are like gold dust.” As such, you should talk to more than one of the provided references. Use LinkedIn to re-connect to peers who may also use or have considered the solution. They should have deployed the solution successfully, but remember to probe the answers, looking for the gaps.

Ask open questions and find out how they used the solution to solve the challenges your organization is facing, such as revenue leakage and cost control. Build a relationship. After all, if you deploy the solution, sharing experiences and knowledge can help both organizations in the future. Networking opportunities should not be missed.

7. Culture

While personal relationships can cement deals, there is a greater chance of a successful, longer-term relationship if the culture between vendor and client is aligned. There will be differences, and one way to identify those differences and similarities is to gain access to the customer community. Do they have an online forum, is it active, and do they host events to share insights at an industry, strategic, and technical level?

Understanding where your organization might fit within this wider community is important. Getting the most value from whatever solution you select is about the whole journey rather than the first step.

The Importance of Cloud-Based Solutions

Buying cloud-based software is different from buying historic on-premises-based applications. It is not just buying and implementing a solution. It is about investing in a relationship where both sides participate in delivering value. These are not the only factors to consider when purchasing your next professional services solution for your organization, but they are things you should certainly consider.

One critical role that any professional services software should play is in fully connecting all corners of your business. Learn what you can do to make this happen in Kantata’s new whitepaper, Mind The Gap: How to Bridge Front & Back Office Systems for Professional Services.”

KantataKantata takes professional services technology to a new level, giving people-powered businesses the clarity, control, and confidence they need to optimize resource planning and elevate operational performance. Kantata’s purpose-built software is helping over 2,500 professional services organizations of all shapes and sizes in more than 100 countries to focus and optimize their most important asset: their people. By leveraging the Kantata Cloud for Professional Services™, professionals gain access to the information and tools they need to win more business, ensure the right people are always available at the right time, and delight clients with project delivery and outcomes.



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