SPI Research, a research and consulting firm specializing in the services sector, defines Professional Service automation as an integrated suite of applications used to increased operational visibility and improve resource management, project management and time and expense capture in professional services organizations.
In order to increase operational visibility, PSA requires organizations to share information. In other words, in a fast-moving organization, a “single version of the truth” is key for timely decision-making. PSA improves resource management and project management by increasing efficiency through better planning, increased collaboration and personnel utilization, and integrated knowledge management. Time and expense capture are a foundational element of PSA; they provide the data blocks upon which business information is built, allowing service-based organizations to leverage this business information by becoming more efficient and profitable.
Best Practices in PSA Implementation
PSA needs to support the operation of consulting companies, throughout the engagement lifecycle, in an integrated way that increases operational visibility and improves operational management.
- Sharing Information – Encourage not only reliable but consistent data so that those who rely on the data to do their jobs can leverage its use.
- Communication Plan – Do not spend time documenting and reporting on work where PSA can do it for you. Use PSA reports to communicate with both external clients and internal customers, pushing the reports out on a regular schedule.
- Codify Best Practices – Identify patterns of success and reuse them. Create templates for projects, reports, client-facing documents, and internal documents. Use PSA to make these templates readily available to the teams.
- Plan the Work and Work the Plan – Use PSA to create plans and baselines of time and expenses.
- Manage People and Costs – Protect your margins. Use PSA to have people with the right skills, experience, and certifications to staff the engagements. Do not staff engagements with overqualified employees unless no one else is available. Use PSA to monitor availability of appropriate resources and reduce engagement costs as soon as possible.
- Leverage Dashboards – Set up dashboards by role to help identify patterns and trends, and provide a consistent way of analyzing performance.
- Enable Process Support of Compliance – Use PSA as the back bone for the implementation of process, standards, and regulations like EVMS, DCAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, control access to project data with the use of roles and organization access, etc.
- Measure for Success – Clearly identify, for each engagement, success and how it is going to be measured. Make them part of the dashboards to help each team member associate their personal success to the team’s success.
Following best practices helps employees concentrate on running the business as opposed to managing a system.
Effective use of Professional Services Automation Software (PSA) can help consulting organizations improve operational efficiency, productivity, billable utilization, and financial margins. However, PSA implementations require focused investment in areas which will produce the greatest return on investment for the organization. Download our whitepaper, Effective Use of PSA Software in Consulting Organizations, to learn how SBS Group and Unanet can help you assess how PSA can benefit your firm.