As an executive of a professional services firm, what do you care about? Are we doing better this year than last? How is revenue tracking this year versus target? Who’s busy and who’s not? Do we need to hire? What clients or projects are in trouble? Is the pipeline healthy? Are we overly dependent on one key client? Do we have a healthy backlog of committed work? Is that backlog too big? Is some work more profitable than other work? Are our European operations healthier than the US? Are our estimates getting better over time?
For most executives I talk to, the answer generally is all of the above…and more.
The Great Divide
One of the largest criticisms I hear from users about software designed to help professional services organizations run their businesses is the gap between the down-and-dirty, detailed transaction-level data, and the great “so what?” CRM applications keep tabs on what needs to happen next to win that new opportunity and how much it’s potentially worth. Project management software is great at helping you understand what task Jimmy is supposed to be working on three weeks from now in order to successfully deliver that project once it’s won. Time tracking systems keep track of how much time he actually spent on that task and what should be billed to the client. Resource management applications keep an eye on when Jimmy will free up from his current project so that he can get assigned to his next challenge. Financial accounting systems provide the bottom line on whether all of this effort resulted in the organization’s making money or losing it.
Services organizations often have a tangle of systems to manage different aspects of the business. Each system’s unique strength is in the detailed management of individual transactions related to its domain and some perspective of the health of that particular aspect of the organization. What they often lack is an integrated, holistic, 360° view of the overall health of the business.
Liberating Your Data
Many services organizations have invested in professional services automation software like Projector to provide a single system that integrates all the delivery activities in a single system. Systems like these provide excellent visibility into all the details of delivering projects—from estimation, project planning, and staffing through to execution, project management, invoicing, and revenue recognition.
In addition to managing all the transactional-level detail related to project delivery, Projector provides a powerful web-based business intelligence/dashboarding tool we call the Advanced Analytics Module, or AAM for short that helps you liberate all that data. Projector’s AAM is a configurable platform that allows organizations to define what’s important to keep track of, render those metrics in easily digestible visualizations, and abstract all that detailed data into actionable insight. It allows you to present a fact-based, visual dashboard that clearly communicates the health of the organization to the right people at the right time. By not just presenting data, but by allowing comparisons to targets, highlighting aberrations, and helping users drill down from the big picture, Projector’s dashboards drive comprehension, insight, and action much more effectively.
Not Just About Projector…
Even though it’s built into the application, Projector’s dashboarding infrastructure is not limited to visualizing just Projector data. Whether you use Salesforce.com for sales automation, ZenDesk for support ticket management, or Google Analytics for marketing performance analysis, Projector’s AAM can help make sense of that data by visualizing it on its own or combining it with information from Projector. This provides a powerful view of a client’s entire lifecycle…from what marketing activities made them aware of your organization in the first place, to what it took to sell, deliver, and support them as a client. All this information can be made available to anyone who uses Projector, including your consultants, your PMs, your delivery managers, your executives, and your clients—all regardless of whether they’ve ever logged in to your CRM, your ticket tracking software, your marketing automation solution, or your accounting system.
…and Not Just Software
Projector’s AAM has pre-built dashboards that show metrics a typical business is interested in: revenue versus targets, margins for this year compared to last year, clients by country. If you run a professional services organization, however, what you really need is a solution targeted at solving the needs of a professional services manager designed by people with experience in that industry. As such, Projector’s AAM is also pre-configured with dashboards that include metrics specific to running a services business: utilization, unmet staffing needs, historical time compliance, revenue per consultant.
We also recognize that a pre-built package of dashboards will get you most of the way towards fulfilling your needs, but you’ll probably want to customize further. We have a whole support team and a whole consulting team standing by to help you if needed, but we also know that many organizations want to take ownership of this process so that they’re not dependent on anyone else. To that end, we’ve structured a whole community, called Projector e3 (which stands for educate, engage, and empower) to educate you on how to take full advantage of the dashboarding infrastructure (and the rest of Projector, for that matter).
The Bottom Line
So, whether they’re used to provide increased visibility into your delivery operations or to provide a more integrated, holistic view of the organization as a whole, performance dashboards can transform detailed transactional data into actionable insight. Service Performance Insight’s latest Professional Services Benchmark Survey shows that executives who have real-time visibility through management dashboards run organizations that grow faster, are more profitable, and utilize their staffs more efficiently than those that do not.
Performance dashboarding platforms like Projector’s Advanced Analytics Module can help provide this visibility with dashboards that are both targeted at the needs of typical professional services firms and customizable for your organization’s specific requirements. Powerful and easy to adopt software, when paired with services to quickly get you proficient and access to a community of like-minded professional services executives will ensure that you’ll be able to answer all those questions with ease and confidence.