This is part two in a four part blog series detailing professional services automation. Part one touched briefly on three points, which we will dive into further in these next three posts: the impact of PSA on employees, business processes affected by PSA, and the integration of systems fostered by PSA. This post will focus on employees: the end beneficiaries of PSA and the forefront of your professional services firm.
PSA for the Professional Services Firm
The term “Professional Services Automation” describes the functions and activities that a professional services firm engages in to automate their business processes in order to be successful. As a provider of PSA solutions to software companies with complex products and projects, Business Intelligence 101 views Professional Services Automation as a fundamental, collaborative, and transparent method of managing both information and work flows within professional services firms.
Professional services organizations are project-based: providing the deliverable at an agreed upon schedule, cost, and scope. The projects are usually uniform in terms of standard procedure and phases, but the vary greatly in the delivery, and could be touched by multiple teams. It is all dependent on the client and their needs. To reiterate something said in the first post of this series, human capital is your business. Making the most of your human capital makes the most of your business. The human capital of your firm is the driving force of these client projects.
Within the firm’s workforce, there are four key areas where we see PSA’s greatest return on investment. These are: a higher caliber of performance, the preservation and transfer of knowledge between co-workers, an increase in productivity, and stronger client relationships.
1) Higher Caliber of Performance
Professional services automation is exactly what it sounds like – the automation of professional services. When the tedious work of employees is automated, they are free to focus on their actual job: deploying their expertise for the benefit of the client.
Professional service automation, powered by an ERP, results in faster delivery of time-sensitive project-related information to all team members results in faster turnaround time. And when all project-related information is disseminated to all team members, deliverables are clearly understood, and the project stays squarely within client requirements. Better application of time and materials, courtesy of resource planning and forecasting tools inherent in a PSA system, results in faster and accurate project completion (on time and under budget).
2) Preservation and Transfer of Knowledge
Your organization delivers great work to your clients when your employees have a deep knowledge of the project and all that is required to complete it. A document and knowledge management system capitalizes on the expertise of your employees. A disjointed system, where some information is available to a select group and other information to another group, does not allow for shared knowledge, does not foster emerging expertise, and ultimately slows down project timelines.
Redundant work efforts, both by the same person repeatedly having to enter information, or by multiple people who do not have access to the correct information, are reduced by a PSA system built single customer records, because it puts sales, support, accounting, shipping, and billing on the same page, all using the same information for every transaction.
Using a cloud based document and knowledge management system pulls in all information across the organization. Information required by employees to do their job is readily available because of intelligent, searchable document management systems that are hosted in the cloud, reducing the time spent looking for the right information. The resulting outcome is knowledge that is shared between employees, and therefore spreads throughout the organization. Employees continue to learn from their projects and from each other, and develop skills that allow them to better serve clients.
3) Increase in Productivity
On a more intimate and time-sensitive level than sharing general knowledge and information gained from past projects, employees of professional services firm interact with each other consistently – about ongoing projects, a quick question, etc. Easy collaboration and communication are essential in any industry, but within the professional services space, where consultants are often away from the home office, and visiting a client office, a cloud-based collaboration system becomes essential – allowing collaboration between anyone, anytime, anywhere. Work completed beyond the workplace translates to more billable hours which translates to higher profits.
4) Stronger Client Relationships
Not only do employees need to speak with one another – to share ideas, knowledge, and up-to-the-minute updates, but they also need to speak with clients. Communication with the client is key for professional services organizations.
A cloud-based collaboration system allows for easy client communication. Increased client awareness, courtesy of the flexible and integrated CRM within PSA, allows for further-reaching, more cost-effective marketing and client awareness campaigns. Even as account managers come and go, an efficient PSA system assists the firm in maintaining a high level of client retention, because all information on clients and their related projects is stored in a central database, and accessible to the next person who takes the account.
If you are a professional services organization, and are interested in taking your business to the next level, speak with an Account Manager at Business Intelligence 101 today.
Business Intelligence 101 is a value added reseller and consulting company. We specialize in helping software companies with complex products manage their customer projects better. We do this by implementing Netsuite and Google cloud-based platforms, and thereby empowering their professional services staff to maximize billable time while improving the quality and consistency of the service they deliver.