How to Optimize Your People: A Guide for PSOs
Let’s talk about PSOs (professional service organizations). Whatever the field — accounting and financial services, architects, engineers, design or construction, moving specialists, engineers, installers and IT, staffing and more — PSOs are all about knowledge, responsiveness, efficiency, and expertise.
To provide trustworthy and customizable solutions for organizations that need it takes having great teams, outstanding people, stellar management, and a flexible, customizable approach. A PSO has to be able to seamlessly fit into the workings of an existing organization but work independently. It has to have the people that inspire confidence, without question, who have pitch perfect communication, execution, followup. Bringing in a PSO is leveraging a promise that the organization doesn’t have to worry, and that the PSO will do it without a hitch. It’s the endless wonder of B2B — which is really about bringing in people from the outside to save the day.
That’s the primary challenge for the PSO: people management, but not just the basics. To enable your people to deliver brilliantly takes more than just essential capabilities. And that’s what it takes for PSOs to grow, scale, deliver and provide value in a changing climate, including an increasing need for functioning across a digital environment.
Industry common goals for professional services businesses
A recent state of the industry report for tech PSOs found that the ten top challenges they face in 2020 include optimization on an array of fronts, from optimizing the business model to the organization to project quality, and improving resource management — which includes better leveraging employee skill sets as well as software and information. Also on that list of challenges is better KPI’s.
Certainly, these are common goals not just for the tech sector of PSOs but across the board — as PSOs look to stay relevant and busy during the additional challenge of operating, if not growing, during Covid. But there’s another strategy PSOs are adopting, for better or worse: it’s not uncommon for PSOs to take a “whatever it takes” approach to business, diversifying to the point of being spread way too thin. Increasing revenue while scattering resources and diffusing practices can lead to a weakening of a firm’s market profile — an instance of paying later for a quick fix now. Instead, staying disciplined, managing projects well, and optimizing people can add value in the long term.
Picking the right HCM platform for your people needs
Just what the ideal platform looks like has a lot to do with the specific industry and its needs. But there are some standards and best practices to keep in mind. Every PSO has to pay attention to impeccable execution, creating maximum value with work that truly matters to both your teams and clients, and ensuring your projects are profitable.
Consider these four critical components:
The right overall approach — as in the platform’s design, its functionality, its navigability, its scalability. As a for instance, it can’t just be built to provide some data. It needs to provide across the board data integration. It needs to be able to forecast a project’s profitability, skills match to ensure the best people are being best utilized, and provide a seamless journey from initial bid to final project that supports a great client-PSO relationship over the long term.
Practical tools and features — supporting a PSO’s ability to meet their goals. These should cover the entire project lifecycle, including financials and procurement, budgeting and billing; and time and expenses; as well as the fixed assets, from systems administration and planning to reporting to HR. If you don’t have a straightforward and integrated way to factor in those elements you’re going to lose out on accurate reporting, cost-effectiveness and profitability.
An outstanding overall experience — since it’s not just what you’re using but how you can use it that’s so important. Optimizing your people to execute, problem solve, and perform at their best means removing redundant busywork and unnecessary tasks whenever possible. Common denominators here include intuitive navigation, automation of manual processes, holistic visual components so your people can see the big picture (or any aspect of it), real-time, accurate reporting data, and the means to run powerful analytics.
Customizable features — because professional service organizations cover a wide range of functions and industries. Within each industry there are countless variations on what a client needs and what it’s going to take to deliver. PSOs need flexibility and agility — so they can tailor their solution yet have the same capabilities as far as how they run, monitor, and manage the project. The less a PSO needs to manually administer, the better: running a project with the right amount of talent keeps it lean, mean and profitable, and frees people to innovate, create, respond, and perform.
There’s an evergreen adage that you’re only as good as your technology. In this intense climate for PSOs that’s never been more true. The challenges of the pandemic and its economic impacts on every industry have stressed the need for digital platforms that don’t stand in the way and aren’t obtrusive, but provide a great functional environment that people love to use. Companies are also relying on outside services to not only fill in the gaps, but function as an active and trusted partner. The best solution is a platform that’s intelligent, powerful and robust. And don’t forget to throw easy, enjoyable, and engaging in that as well.