Companies are turning to services-led strategies to differentiate themselves, drive more value to the customer, and generate more revenue. The services component is increasingly strategic where companies lead with expertise and the construction of whole offerings.
However, expanding your services business can be a challenge. Services delivery is resource intensive and involves many moving parts. Managing a distributed consultant pool, accurate revenue forecasting and project profitability can prove to be a struggle.
People, processes and technology remain the Holy Trinity in business, and professional services organisations are no exception. Across these three areas there must be efficiency, visibility and control.
Many say that people are your greatest asset. Nowhere is this more true than in a services organisation where the product is the people. Manage your critical resources correctly, and you will do better with your projects and portfolios.
Customers should also be considered, and customer services should be assessed across the whole of the customer life cycle.
Step away from the spreadsheets
But, as in many other parts of the business, services teams have come to rely heavily on spreadsheet applications. Spreadsheets are used to inventory the entire services portfolio, track financial project health, manage resources and much more.
Yet trying to collate data from spreadsheets from right across a distributed services business to manage a portfolio of projects can be difficult. Spreadsheets become bloated, leave plenty of room for human error, and often suffer from incorrect, inaccurate or simply out-of-date data.
This all increases the chance of missed deadlines, scheduling conflicts and spiralling costs - issues few businesses can afford. Relying on a multitude of spreadsheets instead of having proper processes is a business liability.
Automation software can help companies reduce their reliance on spreadsheets, while improving visibility of a project and its profitability at any stage.
It can also set basic metrics and KPIs for quantifying business processes, improving overall operational efficiency and capability as well as the accuracy of data. By entering data into a single, company-wide tool instead of a sea of spreadsheets, planning and financial reporting can be simplified.
Such apps can also help services organisations to manage their human capital more efficiently, including contractors. They can expose areas where skill-set improvement or recruitment is needed. There are various tools to help manage projects, schedules and costs.
Too often, services teams end up with a disparate tool set that lacks connectivity, creates information silos and fails to manage the customer life cycle from end to end.
Lori Ellsworth is Changepoint senior vice president and general manager at Compuware
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