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Maximising billable revenue. Minimising revenue leakage. Optimising resources across projects. Making entering timesheets easy and intuitive. Recognising revenue accurately. These are all very worthy ambitions for project-centric organisations. And all very relevant.

But the messages above have barely changed in the last 20 years ago. Or longer! Since then, the technology has changed out of all recognition but the objectives of professional services automation and the associated anticipated business benefits are broadly the same.

Sigh

So, how can you use modern advances – relevant ones – to better effect in project organisations? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? How do you attract, retain and grow your clients for your organisation? In short, how do we ‘light up’ project operations?

How to improve project management operationsPhoto by fauxels from Pexels

If we accept that the broad business objectives are as they were 20 years ago, what we’re talking about is using a very efficient transaction engine. A very efficient “System of Record”.

But how do we develop this System of Record to become a “System of Differentiation” and a “System of Innovation”?

Let’s assume you have an integrated single system. It centralises your data and covers your main business functions of sales, project planning, project management, resourcing, billing, financials and reporting.

Although lots of companies have this in place, you’d be surprised how many don’t. Many still have multiple systems covering these functions.

So, if you have a single source of data truth, that’s great. What’s next?

Technology that can innovate professional services firms

AI in manufacturing

Well, how about looking at other related technologies that don’t regularly sit inside ‘project services automation’. Think along the lines of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML)?

If you were a manufacturer or a retailer, you would be familiar with ways that AI or ML can differentiate your business. For example, digital twins in product development, augmented reality in field service and behavioural analysis in retail.

But how does that translate to the professional services industry?

Here are some ideas;

  • Learn from past projects. Crunch and analyse your data in such a way that you can discover what projects you’re good at and what projects you’re not. This can help you target those project opportunities with a good chance of winning and avoid the ones where you’re likely to come an expensive second place
  • Take any learnings gathered in the above point and apply them to your marketing efforts to win new business. This completes the so-called “Digital Feedback” Loop
  • REALLY look at your customer data. Not what they’ve bought or not bought from you but how they feel about the services you deliver. You’ll also learn about their chances of renewing their contracts with you and the chances of them recommending you for other opportunities
  • When it comes to data analytics, assess how the system can do this for you. That way, you don’t spend all your time analysing reams of data. How about letting the system turn this data into intelligence?
  • And more to the point, how about using the technologies we’re all become used to during lockdown, such as Teams and Office 365, to facilitate this?

With the availability of relevant AI and ML from Microsoft and the day-to-day technologies you’re used to, these technologies can applied to your ‘System of Record’ to really bring your project management processes and operations to life.

 

Innovating your project management processes is one way to improve business agility

When your professional services firm is agile, innovating any area of your operations will become a much easier task. Learn how you can achieve business agility via our five-step checklist. Download it below.

How to achieve business agility

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Becoming a trusted advisor puts you in the invaluable position of being the first place your customers seek when they need quality advice and support. In other words, you’ll be in pole position to win any related work. 
Customer satisfaction essentially measures whether you met their expectations from the products or services you provide. 89% of consumers have been reported to have moved to a competitor based on poor customer experience, emphasising the importance of meeting customer expectations and making sure they are satisfied in the process.
Business agility is your ability to pivot quickly in the face of unpredictable or unexpected change. An agile business can respond quickly and effectively to both internal and external opportunities/threats. 
Many professional services companies face similar challenges due to the nature of their work. They regularly have to deal with issues such as maximising billable hours, managing complex projects and planning for unpredictable demand.  
Your ability to keep scope, people and schedules on track can make or break a project. With all these moving parts, it’s crucial your project managers stay one step ahead of the game.
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