We recently launched some new research, conducted by SPI Research, a specialist consulting firm dedicated to helping professional services organizations (PSOs) make quantum improvements in productivity and profit. The findings are fascinating in themselves and I’ll talk more about them in a subsequent post, but a key point made by Jeanne Urich from SPI when presenting the results at Dreamforce was that even the smallest PSOs today are global, mobile and virtual. It’s interesting to look at just how much this industry has changed in a very short period of time.
Dennis Howlett provides a video of Jeanne making this point and picks up on it in his blog post.
Jeanne asserts that service providers are taking on more risk than they did in the past. Other industries are increasingly outsourcing their business problems to professional service providers and asking more of them than they might have done a few years ago. More SLA’s, more fixed price contracts etc, so that they are increasingly productizing services to make them more tangible and in turn, easier to sell and easier to buy. Clients want more for less while PSO finance teams want them to be more efficient and take more margin. And all of this with less people, often working remotely on projects in virtual teams. It’s an exciting time of change for the industry. Those that retained valuable workforce when the economy took a dive are in much better shape than their competitors.
It’s this type of evolved organization that cloud computing perfectly complements. After all, improving both client acquisition and service delivery is essential. What we know is that the Professional Services market has been relatively quick to adopt CRM technologies, with Salesforce the clear market leader. The point SPI is making in its research is that CRM only focuses on the front-end of the client lifecycle but does little to improve the service delivery lifecycle which focuses on resource and project management and is where service revenue and profit are made. While Salesforce.com users are generally the most productive PSOs, there is a significant opportunity for them to make improvements.