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Per TSIA's professional services benchmark reports, professional services automation (PSA) adoption is on the rise, and organizations that implement it gain the following benefits when compared to their industry peers:

  • Higher billable utilization.
  • Better rate utilization.
  • Fewer days to staff projects.
  • Increased project margins.

However, despite the growing maturity and use of PSA solutions, I continue to see even mature professional services organizations still drowning in spreadsheets and highly inefficient manual reporting. To thrive and compete in the current business climate, companies need to transform and evolve to meet the needs of today's customers.

Why Invest in Professional Services Automation?

There are three key market trends driving modern technology services providers to reimagine PSA within their digital transformation:

  1. Customer Experience
  2. Productivity
  3. Speed of Business

#1. Customer Experience

Empowered customers have reshaped modern business, and over the last decade, there has been a major shift in power from the seller to the buyer. Business expert Jim Blasingame provides a necessary wake-up call to businesses in his book The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance, where he explains how the customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Empowered buyers are demanding a new level of customer obsession expecting consistent and high-value experiences. If they don't receive it, you become irrelevant and obsolete.

To compete, businesses must have common insights across the various teams through a customer-focused lens. For professional services organizations, this requires strong alignment across marketing, sales, and project delivery teams, as strong alignment will drive predictability and profitability. 

Based on conversations with TSIA members and those experiencing the best success one year following a PSA implementation, the most important criteria for selecting a PSA platform was identifying a vendor who can integrate with your CRM system. I'd take that idea one step further and recommend technology that can support marketing, sales, and service delivery in an intelligent, collaborative platform. Break down the barriers and let your teams collaborate effectively to drive efficiency and customer success. 

The benefits of aligning your teams include:

  • Effective communication of what was promised by sales to delivery.
  • Streamlined hand-off from sales to services.
  • Improved upsell and cross-sell potential.
  • More competitive and profitable bids/quotes.
  • Holistic picture of clients and value/priority to the business.
  • Comprehensive view of resource capacity and demand that includes the sales pipeline.

#2. Productivity

Did you know that 40% of a worker's productivity time is lost when switching tasks? A study performed by the American Psychological Association estimated this costs the global economy $450B per year! 

Automating business processes is a must-have, however, your PSA solution needs to transcend simply automating the flow of work. Productivity tools that are directly embedded into business processes save time and drive more productivity out of their employees, so you should leverage PSA solutions that enable best practices and drive productivity. 

Go beyond resource planning for managing resource availability and utilization by effectively staffing your projects so that you are balancing resource skills and certifications along with demand and capacity. This approach will drive higher productivity maximizing your utilization and billing rates. 

More efficient resource management techniques, paralleled with technology enablers, will not only drive productivity but also improve employee morale. By leveraging the right resource for the right job, you've increased their opportunity for success. With higher morale, also comes lower turnover. Research from the Center for American Progress shows that high turnover rates can lead to higher costs, where losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of the salary for hourly employees, compared to 213% of the salary for a highly-trained position. So, there you have it—with predictability comes profitability!  

#3. Speed of Business

To be successful, companies need to enable their people and processes to respond quickly to changes in the market to capture new revenue opportunities. According to McKinsey research, organizations embracing digital transformation generate an average of $100 million (or 8% points) more operating income each year than those who lag behind. 

Digital transformation is not simply about technology—it's a business strategy that requires leaders to re-envision existing business models and embrace a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create value for their customers and capture new opportunities for their organizations.

Digital transformation means re-envisioning how you:

  • Engage your customers.
  • Empower your employees.
  • Optimize your operations.
  • And transform your products.

For technology services organizations, digital transformation involves reimagining specific business processes across sales, customer service, field service, operations, professional service automation, and marketing. The challenge is not just capturing the data from these applications, but how to transform it into intelligence that generates action and drive outcomes.

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Michelle Manimtim

About Author Michelle Manimtim

Michelle Manimtim's career spans operational, management, consulting, and advisory roles with technology companies. She has over 15 years of experience working with customers and technology to help solve business problems. Experience with both small start-ups and large corporations, she has built extensive knowledge in professional services, operations, product support and sales with a proven track record in exceeding revenue and customer satisfaction goals. Her management style drives teams to set high goals, work together to achieve them, support one another during difficult times, and celebrate during the good times. Michelle is currently a partner at Tivitie, a gold-certified Microsoft partner that delivers Dynamics 365 project management, PSA and business productivity solutions.