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Pain Points in Professional Services and how to Fix Them

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Running a professional services firm is rarely easy or simple. Most business leaders will tell you it is most often a demanding and complex endeavor.  At Nubik, we find that empathy helps us manage and collaborate as we strive to understand the other person’s perspective. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can make it easier to find a compromise between two opposing points of view. Similarly, thinking about how others might like to be treated at work can help boost their productivity.

This is a critical thought process to solve challenges in your industry, which also happens to be our industry.

Usually, the three key components of any operational framework are people, processes and technology. In order to grow, companies need to consider a fourth element: the customer.

Professional services firms need to mature their organization as they grow in order to adapt to changes in their customer base and business processes. When companies are small, they can function with an extremely flat structure. As they grow and become multidisciplinary and multinational, deeper hierarchical levels become necessary.

Technology too, must shift and evolve to cope with these changing needs. Spreadsheets are replaced by specific technology such as professional services automation software or a customer-centric tool, in order to give teams a better view of the ever-changing client.

Here is a quick summary read of the top three top pain points for professional services organizations, along with tips to consider to fix them and initiate a conversation with your team:

1. WE ARE GROWING TOO FAST!

THE FIX: Master your growth

While growing, your organization needs to scale, restructure and integrate new concepts with as little friction as possible. When you expand sales, add services and change the way you deliver, your business system needs to be able to adapt to the new reality. Your staff and management need to evolve as well. Professional services organizations do not experience a lot of direct pressure on their ability to create, manage and optimize their services portfolio or the portfolio of their core clients. Most successful companies have proven that the farther away they get from that world, the more pressure they feel as they grow. This can really steer your growth so you can protect what you already have and see what you are missing.

2. WE HAVE SALES, BUT WE STRUGGLE TO PROVIDE THE SERVICE OR DELIVER

THE FIX: Improve the collaboration between the services and sales teams to accelerate the company’s revenue growth

The main challenge now faced by these separate teams often lies in the tools used for planning and execution which are not linked, are outdated or are still entirely manual. As a result, the organization is left feeling like it would be too much work to try to connect everything. Your company and your customers require an optimized collaboration between Sales and Services. To begin connecting these two critical teams, set up a cross functional workgroup or unit or start by focusing on a specific portfolio of clients. You may also consider acquiring a software that allows both departments to collaborate while still being able to perform their work, which would represent a major leap forward. Together, your teams can identify the current and future solutions to solve their problems.

3. OUR PLANNING IS TACTICAL AT BEST

THE FIX:  Next generation resource management and capacity planning

This pain point stems from the fact that your customer is already evolving and changing the way they want your services delivered. Are you ready for that calibration? Are you able to consider short-term changes? To address long-term considerations? Or to ensure that emergencies are not going to put one customer on the back burner as you respond to another one’s urgent request?

Resource capacity management involves the forecasting and determination of resource needs (“people”) across a project or a portfolio of projects, as well as the timely and most efficient allocation of these resources to meet the project objectives. In any industry, the ability to manage capacity effectively is extremely important. The more complex the project or portfolio, the more difficult it can be to see that resources are forecasted accurately, ready to be deployed and trained to perform well when needed, as well as utilized efficiently.

FORWARD THINKING

Professional services organizations are now facing a host of challenges and their industry is undergoing a major transformation which is disrupting the traditional way of working.

This industry will look significantly different ten years from now. The very essence of professional services will be altered as client and employee expectations are evolving, the development of technology is accelerating and other external factors are coming into play.

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