Selecting a Professional Services Automation (PSA) Solution: Determining What Really Matters

SPI ResearchThe folks over at Service Performance Insight just published a great white paper called Selecting a Professional Services Automation (PSA) Solution: Determining What Really Matters. We have known Dave Hofferberth and Jeanne Urich, the founders of SPI Research, for years and have always enjoyed their insight and perspective on the professional services market. In fact, it was while he was at Aberdeen Group in 1999 that Dave coined the term “Professional Services Automation,” or PSA, in a report that talked about how to increase the efficiency and profitability in a professional services organization. So, if anyone understands what makes the services market tick and how to improve a service organization’s performance, it’s these guys.

The Benchmark

SPI undertakes a huge effort each year to survey a cross-section of the professional services market. This benchmark survey seeks to understand how each participating organization is performing and some of the processes, systems, and philosophies it uses to succeed in an ever-increasingly competitive market. Because SPI has surveyed over 5,000 organizations over the past 5 years, they are able to also provide us with a valuable glimpse into how the overall market is faring.

This year’s survey helps us understand some of the forces shaping professional services organizations (PSOs) worldwide, including:

  • How the worst recession in decades has affected the PS industry and how the market is poised to grow at a heady rate as the world’s economies recover
  • How the improving job market will cause a PSO’s ability to hire, ramp, and retain top talent to be one of the key drivers of success
  • How the profile of projects is changing from the big bang approach to smaller, more incremental efforts
  • How PSOs are using fixed price projects as a competitive advantage to win business in an increasingly competitive market

It also provides metrics that you can use to benchmark the performance of your organization against that of other PSOs in your space. Want to know what billable utilization most management consultancies experience? Interested in finding out if your employee retention rate is better than other mid-sized firms? Trying to figure out if you should be paying or billing out your program managers more than you currently are? The benchmark has the answers.

The Best of the Best

Best of the Best Service FirmsTo really illustrate how an organization’s performance can be materially affected by its processes, systems, and business practices, SPI goes further and segments its respondents into the top performing 5% (the so-called “Best of the Best”) and everyone else. They not only show the performance advantage displayed by this group, they also talk about some of the common trends that allowed those organizations to perform so ably.

According to SPI’s research, one of the biggest factors was the adoption of a professional services automation system. Of the top 5% performers, every company had invested in a PSA tool to run their business. Of the top 10 performing companies, Projector is proud to recognize two as long-time users of Projector’s PSA suite.

The White Paper

Selecting PSA SoftwareI think one of the most interesting things that SPI does with this data is to drill down one step further. In their latest white paper, they analyze the effect that not just any PSA has, but how the performance of organizations using Projector differs from that of firms using other PSA tools. SPI notes that companies using a PSA already have a big advantage over those that don’t. That advantage is even more significant when that PSA happens to be Projector.

Different organizations have different automation needs, and each PSA vendor has tuned their product to meet slightly different requirements. Some vendors emphasize collaboration and social networking. Others stress a monolithic approach to replacing all your business systems with theirs in one fell swoop. Still others emphasize a sexy user interface that skins an application that ultimately may not do a very good job actually helping you run your business.

In this white paper, SPI examines some of the factors that really matter when selecting a PSA—if improving the bottom line is important to you. These factors include:

  • How using an independent PSA solution can be an advantage if your organization uses heterogeneous business systems
  • How important it is to choose a product with sufficient depth to accurately model your business
  • How certain design decisions embedded within Projector help organizations address many of the trends shaping the services market as identified in the benchmark survey
  • How those design decisions enabled Projector users to enjoy significant performance advantages over users of other PSA tools

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about the great work that SPI Research does, delve into the detailed results of this year’s benchmark survey, or discover how Projector users perform as compared to users of other PSA tools:

Happy reading!

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