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It’s no surprise that services organizations rely more and more on various technologies to successfully run their businesses. Recent research shows that planned spending and adoption of Professional Services Automation solutions is on the rise, and has become a must-have technology for most business stakeholders within services organizations. PSA provides automation in core business areas along with the information necessary to make important business decisions in real-time.

We interviewed Lori Ellsworth, GM of PSA Solutions at FinancialForce to get her perspective on typical challenges that services business face while undergoing a business transformation and how technology, specifically a Professional Services Automation solution, plays a role in these events.

What are some of the challenges or scenarios that services leaders need to be prepared for when their organization is undergoing a major business event (i.e. IPO, going private, M&A)?

Lori: The bottom line for any type of transaction is that you need information—you need to be able to analyze your business, answer questions and run scenarios. A PSA solution that contributes a strong view of your services business is critical.

In what ways can various technologies and business tools empower services leaders with the information they need during these business events?

Lori: It’s no question that financial applications play a role, as does overall customer info and a view into the sales pipeline. But, only PSA gives you a clear picture of how your services business is performing, and this is a strategic part of the company picture.

What are some typical challenges that services leaders encounter when changing their services offerings to support a new business model?

Lori: I think it is about their ability to monitor. They might be bringing a different type of service to market, or changing the model they deliver services within, or maybe even deploying a new team to a new geography. In doing any of these things, you are making some assumptions, so you need to tightly manage the delivery and financial picture to understand where adjustments are needed or expectations need to be discussed. A simple example is moving from T&M (Time and Materials) engagements to fixed fee—you must be able to assess your performance and financial metrics in each engagement to ensure you are able to deliver in this model and it is profitable.

How does technology support this type of business transformation in the short-term and long-term?

Lori: It supports in two ways. PSA holds your historical information that allows you to look for trends and helps make decisions about new offers based on past performance. As you start to execute on the new offering, it then lets you structure it to be repeatable and manageable, and provides a constant ability to measure against key KPIs to ensure the decision was the right one for the business.

Since we’ve entered the age of the Cloud, do you think it is creating more professional services opportunities or less?

Lori: Without a doubt more, and there are many studies that have proven this. More and more solutions are delivered in a cloud model today, but at the Enterprise level, this does not negate the need to understand your own best business practices, configure the solution, and manage the change that is fundamental to a new system. And, deploying Enterprise software is often done in phases, and you certainly do not want to take your foot off the gas and not get the full impact of your investment.

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