Since not all professional services are in the same vertical, some businesses face unique challenges compared to others. However, there are some shared issues across the professional services spectrum that pain project managers everywhere.
Not the least of them being costs. According to the Confederation of British Industry, professional services are seeing costs grow at the fastest pace in survey history (from a +39% increase to +56%, to +70%). Nonetheless, let’s look at a few more common challenges in the industry
Drowning in admin
One of the most obvious challenges plenty of professional service businesses faces is the admin pile-up. Before you even take on a client, there’s lead generation data, employee data, management data, expenses tracking, and more. All of which have admin tasks related to them.
For example, when ClearCompany approached Cloud Coach, they were facing mounds of admin related to HR reviews, business intelligence, and tracking cost of goods sold.
Fortunately, admin tasks are some of the easiest to automate.
On automating these kinds of tasks, Jo Tatti, Senior Director of Services at ClearCompany said:
“We got a lot less paperwork, a lot more visibility about what was happening with our customers during implementation, and a lot of backend business intelligence that let us know how effective we were being with Implementation Manager time. We couldn’t do any of that without Cloud Coach.
It was a quantum leap forward for us. It’s helped us make sure that we’re spending time on the right things.”
The benefits of bringing automation into your business admin are clear. It saves you time, money, and helps you spot opportunities for growth.
Another tricky area project managers and businesses face is resource management. It’s often the case that within a business, teams work in silos—with their own communication, reporting, and processing tools. Which makes it hard for resource management, having to hunt down necessary information from teams and clients.
While resource management is a more nuanced area, you can still automate aspects of it.
When Hostess came to Cloud Coach, it was facing a lot of issues with siloed solutions, manually spreadsheeting, and a lack of process guide overall strategies and governance. Cloud Coach helped by implementing Stage Gates and automation workflows.
Jean Foreman, Director of Enterprise Activation at Hostess said:
“With Cloud Coach, we will bring cross functional teams together to vet projects and make sure nothing gets missed; which is the beauty of Stage Gates.”
While there is generally a human element of judgement, automation can help cut down the processes involved in resource management and offer data-backed solutions.
Being a project manager (or the owner of a small professional service business) can be difficult. It’s not always easy to plan projects effectively, or even decide if a project is worth taking on when figuring out profitability and project scopes.
A common reason for this is incomplete or suboptimal processes involved in both project vetting and in-project management—usually due to different systems for various processes.
When athenahealth came to Cloud Coach, they were experiencing a lot of fragmentation because they were using lots of different technology platforms. This made project visibility and communication a constant challenge.
On facing these challenges, Jackson Witherill, Senior Product Management Associate at athenahealth said:
“Cloud Coach has empowered us to move off of different systems to streamline and optimise our processes, which has allowed us to manage projects more efficiently, log time, and have more clear reporting across the business.”
While athenahealth used Cloud Coach as a unifying solution, you can also use automation tools and techniques to try getting your platforms to “speak” to each other if your current tools are a necessity.
Productivity and monitoring
The other most common issues in professional service businesses are productivity levels, and monitoring/tracking productivity (or employee utilization rates).
Tracking task completion and employee billable hours is key to understanding productivity levels in your staff and projects. When you track this kind of data manually, you risk making mistakes, as well as lacking transparency.
Cloudpointe was facing these issues when it approached Cloud Coach for help on automating its manual commission tracking tasks. Nick Yarymovych, CEO of Cloudpointe said:
“It’s given us the accuracy and consistency we want when calculating the commissions. We have visibility on every project and status and the tasks involved. We are able to deliver on time and on budget and track that with early warning.”
By automating tasks that don’t need humans to complete, you open up the opportunity for your employees to be even more productive (as well as the chance to monitor those improving levels).