Lessons Learned in the Professional Services Industry – A Decade of Insights

This year marks the tenth publication of Service Performance Insight’s annual Professional Services Maturity Benchmark survey. This phenomenal body of work not only provides insight into the micro trends affecting the professional services market over the past 12 months, it examines broader macro trends tracing back a decade or more.

This broader history is especially interesting as it examines the changing environment faced by the professional services industry: from the furious pace of the growth-at-all-costs sentiment of a decade ago through the decidedly more sober mood during financial crisis, the great recession, and the ensuing slow-but-steady recovery. It explores the challenges of a longstanding shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) talent and the impact of isolationism on the free movement of that talent. It examines creative efforts to balance winning new business, optimizing profitability, and improving predictability—approaches that ranged from the marked shift several years ago towards fixed price contracts, to the more recent reliance on recurring revenue models and the subscription economy.

What’s unique about this study is that doesn’t stop there. It delves deeper by asking how the most successful services firms were able to not just cope, but to turn these challenges into competitive advantages. It explores the effects on the performance of those organizations of culture, of leadership, of process discipline, and of technology. Chief among the technology enablers was the widespread availability of cloud-based business applications such as Professional Services Automation (PSA) software—software that, according to the research, indisputably helps firms grow faster, better utilize scarce resources, and deliver more successful and profitable projects.

While the top-performing firms, which the study deems the “Best of the Best,” have almost universally adopted a commercial PSA solution, SPI estimates that as many as 20% of the rest have not yet made the move to adopting PSA. Of the ones that have, many are unhappy with the one they’ve chosen. This year’s benchmark shows a marked gap in PSA satisfaction when comparing the top-performing firms to their peers. Given the evidence of a PSA solution’s impact on performance, we’re faced with the inevitable question: “if you haven’t yet adopted a PSA solution that you’re actually happy with, what are you waiting for?”

No matter what the answer is for your organization, we are thankful for SPI’s continued efforts to provide research that allows us to explore these types of questions. Projector PSA is a proud sponsor of the work SPI does to help the professional services community measure and improve its performance.

To see these perspectives and to start benchmarking your organization against your peers:

Sign up to download the 2017 Professional Services Benchmark Survey Results

We hope the insight that it contains helps you to achieve your goals no matter what surprises 2017 and beyond may bring.


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