Professional Services Automation Blog

Resource Management: What Facebook and Professional Service Firms have in Common

Facebook and Professional Services Resource ManagementFacebook has recently conquered another huge milestone. The social network corporation just achieved the title of fourth most valuable company in the world, dethroning Exxon Mobil. It is nothing new that people simply loves Facebook. But why would an executive at a professional services firm care about the success of this giant? The answer is simple. Think about Facebook’s biggest asset: its users, people like you and me. Conversely, think of the biggest asset for any professional services organization? No doubt its people. With that in mind, we analyze how Facebook and a high-performance professional services organization use similar resource management strategies to keep their people happy. Continue reading »

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The Secret to Smart Professional Services Resource Management

I Resource Management Art and Sciencejust published an article in the July issue of Professional Services Journal that discusses combining art and science in the pursuit of resource management in a professional services firm. It talks about how necessary it is to combine two different perspectives when managing resources: the mathematical, algorithmic, metric-oriented, rational world with the intuitive, empathetic, human one.

Systems like Professional Services Automation solutions are great at the former, but need to be paired with real people…actual humans…to provide the latter perspective. The trick is to find the right point along that continuum that is most appropriate for your business, your culture, and your team. Continue reading »

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Short-term Implications of Brexit on Your Services Firm

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The world went to sleep last night with early polling suggesting that the Brexit referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain within the European Union was leaning in the “stay” camp. In a surprising turn of events, when the final tallies came in, more than 17 million people voted in favor of leaving, formalizing Britain’s decision to sever its 40-year membership in the EU. So, what does that mean for your professional services firm?

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How a Focus on Incrementalism Drives Professional Services Results

The following article is a guest post authored by Phil Pedlikin. Phil is a professional services executive with a proven track record of growth and profitability–increasing revenues and profits wherever he has been a leader. In this guest post Phil outlines how he has leveraged incrementalism to drive significant improvements in professional services profitability.

Focus on Professional Services Profitability ImprovementsAs services companies strive to improve profitability, they examine their metrics. They try to improve those numbers: utilization, direct cost percentage, backlog percentages, and many others. As companies look for ways to improve these numbers, they make one fundamental error. They rush to improve all of their numbers.The better approach is incremental. Most people think of incrementalism as something used in the public sector. Businesses in contrast need to be fast and nimble. While true, this does not mean rushing into mistakes. It means assessing how to improve your business incrementally and efficiently. Continue reading »

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The Power of Results-Driven Professional Services Automation

PSA-Software-Satisfaction-by-Referenceable-ClientsHere at Projector PSA we have taken a decidedly different approach to professional services automation (PSA) software. Designed by professional services executives, our solution is solely focused on helping people- and project-centric services firms run more efficiently, successfully, and profitably. This results-driven approach is apparent not only in our product, but also in our diverse service and support offerings. And it seems to work well. Over the past 10 years Projector has become the leading independent PSA solution and has consistently received the highest level of client satisfaction in the PSA software market. Something we’re fairly proud of, to be frank.

SPI Research’s latest Professional Services Benchmark has played a major role in measuring the success organizations have achieved by selecting Projector as their professional services software of choice. Each year they survey hundreds of world-class professional service organizations (PSOs) ranging from management consultancies to digital agencies to understand how the professional services market is performing.

One of the topics that SPI Research investigates is the different business software systems that organizations are using. Because PSA software is the core system that PSOs rely on to run their business, what solution a firm is using tends to have a significant impact on a firm’s success. And once they start segmenting the data by PSA software vendors the results begin to speak for themselves. Continue reading »

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3 Things I Hate about Blog Posts with Numbered Lists

The Ubiquitous Numbered List


3 No-fail Ways to Improve Project Profitability

7 Example Proposal Templates that Can’t Lose

10 Things You Should Never Ever Say to Your Client

Blog posts with numbered lists are everywhere. Cognitive scientists believe they appeal to our brains’ innate desire for organization and structure. Marketers rely on them to increase engagement, lower bounce rates, and increase clickthroughs. Bloggers use them to put together content culled from disparate sources under the appearance of a unifying theme. Articles centered on numbered lists have become so prevalent that I’ve seen a new term to describe them: “listicals.”

Problem is, I hate blog posts organized around numbered lists.

Not in principle. I just don’t like them for the purpose of this blog and for the audience that we’re trying to reach. And, of course, I’m going to explain my reasoning with a numbered list. How could I not? Continue reading »

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Three Key Questions You Need to Answer When Measuring Utilization

HamletUtilization. Every professional services firm I’ve ever worked with—whether they’re a management consultancy, a digital marketing organization, a technology implementer—measures utilization. Every professional services manager—from the executive leadership level to delivery managers to department heads—tries to improve utilization. Every billable consultant is, at least in part, evaluated and compensated on utilization.

Problem is, not everyone has a common understanding of utilization.

On the face of it, utilization is a simple concept that just measures how busy people are. You take the hours they’re busy, divide by the hours they’re available and come up with a percentage. Compare that percentage to other firms, to other departments, to other people, and (at least in theory) you have a way of measuring performance…as long as everyone’s crunching the numbers the same way. In the immortal words of Hamlet when he was thinking about utilization calculations, “Aye, there’s the rub.”

Here’s what you need to think about when figuring out an approach to measuring utilization for your professional services firm:

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Continuity and Change: Consistency in an Ever-Changing Environment

trendEvery year over the past decade, Service Performance Insight (SPI) publishes their comprehensive Professional Services Maturity Benchmark that provides a unique perspective into what’s going on in the professional services industry. Every year, I eagerly pour through the results to understand what’s new, what’s changed, and what’s different. This year, however, what really stood out was one factor that has actually stayed the same year after year: the fact that revenue growth (averaging 10.9% per year) has exceeded headcount growth (averaging 8.3% per year) consistently over the past five years or more.

This trend isn’t driven by services firms raising their pricing structures, which have remained flat or even shown a slight decline over the same timeframe. Rather, the dynamic is driven by organizations’ ability to become more and more efficient over time, as evidenced by overall 5-year trends of increasing utilization and profitability.

While there are many paths towards improving efficiency, SPI has identified the adoption of a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution such as Projector as one of the key levers smart services firms utilize. Adoption rates of commercial PSA tools have consistently been in the 95% to 100% range for the top-performing organizations—a cohort that is growing twice as fast, is more profitable, has happier employees and clients, and enjoys higher utilization with less employee attrition than its peers. Whether or not they are part of the top-performing firms, organizations that have adopted a PSA solution demonstrate 78% faster growth, 6% higher utilization rates, and 25% better profitability than organizations that don’t use a PSA tool. Continue reading »

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Getting the Right DIRT on Time Reporting

Labor is the largest investment made by a professional services company. There are two important quality measures: accuracy and timeliness. Accurate time reporting leads to higher project profits and resource utilization, as well as greater customer satisfaction.

time reporting

The benefits of accuracy are:

  1. Better knowledge of project profitability and resource utilization
  2. Better process improvements through better knowledge of actual effort
  3. Correct payment of hourly workers
  4. Correct billing of clients

The benefits of timeliness are:

  1. Quicker feedback of work done into the planning process
  2. Faster billing (reduced DSO)
  3. More accurate time reporting

To improve accuracy and timeliness, measure DIRT.

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The Importance of Performance Benchmarking, and How to Get Started

We talk about benchmarking a lot on this blog. And it’s for a good reason. Benchmarks imply that you’re actually measuring your progress. And that’s something we can get behind.

Measurement-2Too often the conversation is focused on the next big buzzword or some form of technology that promises to solve all of your problems. An important conversation for sure, but if you can’t measure where you’ve been, or if you don’t truly know where your problems lie, it’s all worthless.

That’s true for any business, but for professional services firms it’s especially important. Because there are little to no physical products in a professional services business, everything comes down to how effectively you are able to use time. This is often measured through an organization’s utilization KPIs, but in reality it is an attribute of every aspect of the business. From hiring a new subject matter expert to staffing a project or invoicing for your work, it’s the balance of quality and speed that drives results. Continue reading »

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