How to improve real-time information visibility
Read Part I of this blog
What is the potential for information visibility within professional services? Most departments have their own solutions which offer real-time visibility for particular tasks. For instance, sales and marketing personnel use client relationship management (CRM) solutions to manage the pipeline and better understand the services being sold and the price.
Likewise, those responsible for delivering services use professional services automation (PSA) solutions in order to better manage resources and service delivery. It ensures they meet timelines and project profit margins.
The problem is that PSOs only operate at maximum efficiency and effectiveness if the information available to one department — such as sales, marketing or services delivery — is also available to others. This helps departments work together to make sure the entire organization realizes more success.
No doubt, the department responsible for services delivery and human resources would prefer to see what deals are in the pipeline and what their potential bid price is. This information helps ensure they have trained resources available at the right cost to deliver the services. If this information isn’t available at a detailed level, the organization can’t efficiently build its bench in order to start work on time.
Likewise, the sales organization must have visibility into the resources available so it can focus sales efforts on selling projects that best match resource capabilities. Therefore, profits go up.
The impact of real-time information on goals
Having real-time information helps PSOs react faster and make the necessary changes to succeed. It also allows them to more accurately plan long-term initiatives based on the latest information. For example, executives typically look back a quarter or two to determine where they have or haven’t been successful and where they should invest.
Many organizations, however, struggle to look at the prior quarters because the information may not be available for several months. Thus, the lack of real-time information hampers the ability to accurately spot marketplace trends that might impact service strategy. Real-time information prevents surprises. Executives can compare information taken from this week, last week and several prior weeks to precisely determine where to focus future efforts.
Take advantage of the information infrastructure
We believe that using an integrated information infrastructure improves organizational visibility across the entire PSO. It becomes more relevant in light of all the new technologies, such as smart phones and tablets, which provide information access from almost anywhere and at any time. Now, executives, project managers and employees who deliver services have immediate access to any project-related data or changes in priority. They can immediately shift their focus to the most critical issues facing the organization.
No longer do employees have to make multiple phone calls to multiple people to get the message out. The results speak for themselves in Table 2. It reveals a few of the benefits of using integrated solutions.
Notice that PSOs without a CRM solution have a deal pipeline of approximately 161 percent of the current quarter forecast. This means they have slightly more than 60 percent more work proposed than is expected to be completed in the quarter. Unfortunately, most of the work in the pipeline won’t be won or will have a start date much later than the current quarter. Therefore, PSOs should have a pipeline of at least 200 percent. This is double the amount of work that could be completed in the quarter.
Those organizations with CRM solutions have a pipeline of 216 percent. But if an organization integrates CRM with a core financial management solution such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), this jumps to 230 percent. It gives the organization a greater confidence margin, which allows the team to craft better proposals.
This analysis applies to PSA solutions in terms of how having integrated solutions further improves the benefits as opposed to having a non-integrated solution. Integrated human capital management (HCM) solutions also yield similar results. The outcome is that this increase in broad, real-time visibility across the PSO helps everyone work with the same information and, therefore, align resources to achieve optimal results.
The proof is in the real-time pudding
Few people doubt the importance of real-time visibility, but they want to see theory backed up by fact before pursuing it. We have monitored this key performance indicator for seven years. All the numbers prove real-time visibility improves performance.
PS executives who want to expand the organization rapidly and operate at high levels of both project margin and organizational profitability will want to do everything within their power and budget to provide the needed visibility to collaborate effectively.
To accomplish this feat, PSOs must use their information infrastructure to their fullest advantage. It’s a powerful tool that lets them adapt to current conditions as quickly as possible to reach and exceed their organizations’ goals.
To learn more about how service organizations can use a professional services ERP to improve their real-time visibility, watch our recorded webinar now.
David Hofferberth, P.E., is Founder and Managing Director for
and has championed solutions for the professional services sector for over a decade. In addition to providing guidance for hundreds of Independent Software Vendor (ISVs) clients over the years, SPI’s ongoing work with business and technology media enables their clients to remain informed and in front of the buying public. Hofferberth regularly consults with Professional Services Organizations and financial institutions.