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Four Questions on the State of Technology for Professional Services


According to recent research, the professional services industry is growing aggressively and seeing very specific growing pains in talent attrition, project profitability, and resource management. In trying to encapsulate what organizations can do to alleviate these issues, we asked subject-matter expert, Steve Beaumont four questions to help us grasp the state of the industry and the solutions described in his white paper, Your Project-Based Service Organization: Paper Airplane or Rocket Ship?.

Q: Steve, over the course of 25 years, you've worked for some very large IT consultancy organizations, and over that span, the "professional services industry" has grown nearly three times (in net profits) since 2010¹. What do you think has attributed to this growth?

Steve Beaumont: The consulting world's reliance on technology has increased rapidly, and the need to call upon specialists with expertise on how to drive business success has grown with it. As the businesses they serve have become more global or at least multi-national, the consultancies themselves have had to mirror this. This has resulted in larger firms with a range of services that need to be delivered to geographically complex clients. Whilst revenues continue to be strong in comparison with some other industry sectors, this increasing complexity and the pressure on daily rates provides very real challenges.

Q: What do you consider the "consulting world"? Does your research serve many industries considering this wide-ranging perspective?

Steve Beaumont: In the white paper Your Project-Based Service Organization: Paper Airplane or Rocket Ship?, I point to case studies that have embraced newer technologies because they exemplify efficiency and a rapid ROI. Specifically, I cite a technology services firm because the complexities of their organizational requirements and a clinical research organization (CRO) because of the impact integrating a purpose-built solution had an additional benefit of enhancing all of their process technologies.

However, there are several more industries that have allowed me and subject matter experts to expound on the subject data. Along with technology services and clinical research organizations; the "professional services industry" has come to include IT services, software solutions, technology consultancy, business services, advertising, and marketing organizations among others. For all of these organizations, people are the product and therefore, resource management has a direct impact on the bottom line.

While these industries may seem to have completely different business models, what I have learned in my research and my years is that those in charge of project delivery or operational standards have likeminded accountabilities. They all have a project delivery revenue engine and many of the larger organizations are burdened by trying to get an ERP to function for service organization-based requirements ‒‒ a task an ERP tool was not built for by any stretch of the imagination.

Q: Is this why you think Services Resource Planning (SRP) software has established itself as the purpose-built, for these types of organizations²?

Steve Beaumont: To an extent. More so, research has shown that the more mature services organizations have processes and purpose-built systems in place to allow them to operate their business more efficiently, and to provide the information they need to make better business decisions. It is not just about planning and managing projects, it is about maximizing the value from your people and keeping your clients satisfied. The increased complexity of managing successful project driven service organizations with resources or partners in multiple locations requires more sophisticated resource planning and controls. As SRP has gained prominence as a purpose-build solution that has helped project-drive organizations reach these goals, the attribution is a natural conclusion.

Q: In your new white paper you very distinctly classify project-driven organizations into two types. Is it your belief that these types of organizations can be classified so succinctly³?

Steve Beaumont: In very black and white terms: yes. Study after study has indicated there are organizations that automate their resource planning and those that do not ‒‒ or that they automate portions of the process in isolation and then manipulate ad hoc systems, for example, to get the answers they need to improve resource management processes. Correlation is definitive that those organizations that truly automate resource demand, capacity planning and resource allocation are the most successful when it comes to getting the right person on the right project and delivering successful, profitable projects.

Thank you Steve for your valuable insight!

What is remarkable to point out is how consistent Steve's research is with the analysis conducted by SPI Research, Aberdeen Group, and the IDC. Steve is among great company of researchers evaluating systems that are empirically tied to improving processes and profitability. Learn more about this research by downloading the white paper, Your Project-Based Service Organization: Paper Airplane or Rocket Ship?

About Steve Beaumont

For nearly 25 years, Steve Beaumont has been a part of professional services industry with many of those years as a management consultant for Deloitte, Coopers & Lybrand, and Ernst & Young. Steve's expertise lies in team management, pipeline, resource allocation, and project delivery. Currently, Steve is a Planview Solutions Market Manager where he is responsible for understanding and enhancing software solutions designed to help PSOs manage their businesses and deliver successful projects.

Got a question for Steve? Leave a comment for prompt reply.

1 SPI Research: 2013 Professional Services Maturity™ Benchmark, February 2013

2 IDC Executive Brief: Services Resource Planning: Systems for Effectively Managing a Project-based Business, June 2012

3 White Paper: Your Project-Based Service Organization: Paper Airplane or Rocket Ship?, March 2013

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