The software that professional services firms use every day can easily be taken for granted and profiled as purely tactical tools. These applications are used to manage operational processes and make day-to-day life simpler while driving incremental growth, such as by managing resource allocation, project status, budget projections, and revenue forecasting. However, professional services automation (PSA) software is more than just an instrument for driving tactical service improvements and profitability. The same platform that’s leveraged every day for project delivery is also a valuable knowledge repository that empowers firm’s ability to develop an intelligent, easily scalable and lucrative growth strategy.
Understand Your Ideal Service Positioning
Business growth is driven by more than the service experience that an organization provides. Effective marketplace positioning is essential for establishing a reputation in a crowded, competitive space loaded with talent. Susan Shelby, the CEO of Rhino PR, a marketing and public relations firm specializing in professional services, provides guidelines for dynamic marketing in a blog post outlining successful outreach and communications. Shelby’s advice includes the questions you need to ask, including, “Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your key messages? What are your internal challenges?” She also notes that “strategic planning is essential across all lines of your business…a thoughtful planning process can yield a robust and effective PR and marketing plan that supports your firm’s business goals.”
Prominence within the professional services industry is also directly tied to thought leadership – as clients become increasingly in tune with new developments in this space, they will look for innovation and creative thinking from their chosen service teams. Hinge Marketing, a renowned agency focused on professional services, demonstrates that the path to “visible expertise” requires effectively claiming specialized niches, intensive audience study, and consistently refining marketplace insight.
PSA Software can help professional services leadership answer these important questions, as well as provide essential context for a firm’s expertise that appeals to the most profitable customers.
Find the Perfect Target Audience and Accentuate Your Strengths
An imperative first step in intelligently scaling a professional services firm is identifying the vertical that the firm has been most successful serving. Hinge Marketing expands their discussion on specialization, noting that, ”Our research has repeatedly shown that the fastest-growing firms tend to be specialists in a carefully targeted niche – an area of the industry that they understand thoroughly…specialization makes all of your marketing efforts easier, because it tends to define exactly what you do and distinguish you from the competition.”
PSA software can be integral to making this determination. The application contains an organization’s entire service history and identifies which projects have historically had the highest profit margins, fewest operational roadblocks, and received the most positive client feedback. Service leaders can further drill down and identify which team members have provided the most quantifiable and visible benefits to these profitable projects, enabling them to place these valued staff in more prominent positions.
PSA software can help firms manage the project-based element of strategy and scaling as well as the personnel facet. Applications that boast real-time dashboards provide a flexible visual overview of performance, from the highest to most granular levels. These dashboards can be manipulated to accurately track mid-project profitability and budget estimates at completion, in order to properly assess which client verticals deliver the strongest benefit to the organization.
The combination of holistic evaluation of talent and capabilities, and quantitative metrics form the foundation of a professional services organization’s target audience identification and integrated business strategy. This contextual information differentiates PSA software from shallower “point solutions” that do not house this strategic context in a centralized, intuitive manner, if at all.
PSA Software Drives Strategic Transformation
Projector has first hand experience transforming professional services organizations’ long-term business strategy through the insights gained from the Projector PSA platform, supported by nearly two decades of institutional knowledge. A notable client working within the strategic marketing space was having difficulty determining their strategic priorities using their existing technology stack, inhibiting continued growth. The organization’s CEO noted that because of their prior setup, “We couldn’t see the impact of what work was in the pipeline. Our managers wanted to make hiring decisions because we believed we were growing but I didn't have data to back that up. We were counting on cash flow, but there was no way to track or manage it.”
Once this firm began running their day-to-day operations on Projector, they received the clarity needed to grow intelligently. The organization was able to optimize profitability by balancing the utilization of their teams and holding staff accountable. Additionally, the new visibility they received into their ongoing business enabled the company to pivot its positioning and establish a smoother growth pathway, while improving profitability targets by 160%. The CEO concluded, “Before Projector, all of our financial forecasting was done with a Ouija board. Within one year of using Projector, we had a 28% increase in our project margins.”
Treat Your Software as a Resource, Not a Tool
The 2020 SPI Professional Services Benchmark emphasizes that the “best of the best” organizations consider professional services applications “a critical element of the business and a major source of revenue, profit and client product adoption” and “[provide] the basis for effective recruiting, hiring and employee engagement and furnishing the tools for planning, budgeting, forecasting and analyzing.” The depth of analytical capabilities within professional services automation software empowers firms to not only grow their business faster, but also grow smarter. Leveraging this functionality properly is essential to setting a sustainable, robust business development strategy that cuts through the noise in this saturated marketplace.