Growth of Professional Service Industry

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As noted in the chart above, the professional services industry has experience rapid growth over the past three years. Of course, growth can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, it is great for the current firms operating in the space. On the other hand, high profits create more competition as new entrants throw their hats into the ring believing that they too can be successful in the industry. To counter these new competitors, managers need tools to help create repeatable project deliverables, move project teams to higher levels of efficiency, and be sure they can monitor and track their projects at any stage of the project lifecycle. Today we will be looking at the top professional services software tools managers can use to keep the edge over the competition.

Project Life Cycle

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The beginning of every project is a well-constructed proposal. A proposal should take into consideration the project goals and terms as well as showing to the client that the firm understands the business problem. To craft a successful proposal, collaboration is essential. The top tool to use in this case would be some kind of communication facilitator that allows multiple individuals access to work on the proposal together. Google Apps provides a simple, yet elegant, solution for allowing collaboration amongst the bid preparers.

Project Triangle

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The next phase in a project is to determine the time, scope, and cost. To do this, service firms need to be able to build project plans that list details at a granular level. They need to be able to estimate what their costs will be along each phase of the project. They need to be able to develop both the revenue recognition schedule and the invoicing schedule. The top project management software for these types of tasks would be a system that offers estimating tools and keeps a detailed price book. Although this can be done in a spreadsheet, a more efficient application would be an enterprise project management software like NetSuite.

Once the scope and price are determined, staffing resources need to be arranged. For service firms with lots of billable personnel, this is an ongoing struggle. The struggle includes concerns about staff bill rates, utilization, and just keeping track of what each employee is actually working on. The best resource management software tools will give firms powerful scheduling options that will help balance both the supply and the demand of their resources. One of the best solutions on the market is OpenAir, a cloud based project management software. This tool features resource management, project management, time and expense tracking, project accounting, and advanced billing and invoicing services.

The final phase of a project is to execute and deliver the agreed solution. Execution involves tracking costs, project deliverables, billing cycles, and knowing the profit margin for each phase of a project. The top project management software to help firms execute is one that provides management a consolidated view of the entire business but also allows for detailed project centric information. In this case, spreadsheets just will not cut it. Firms will want to invest in professional service automation software that will fit their needs. An online project management software like NetSuite helps firms execute by providing managers a real time access to project information.

Frequently, project centric firms write off project management software simply because they think it is not for them. Think again. Today, the only way to stay competitive is to adopt the top project management software tools that will help your firm deliver consistent value to your customers. Contact us to speak with a Bi101 consultant to help make this decision.