Has The Great Recession Changed Everything?

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Last time we spoke (Why PSA Isn’t ‘Sexy’ – But Absolutely 100% Matters More Than Ever!), I argued that while PSA, Professional Services Automation, isn’t a buzz word in the way it might have been, it is very much a top agenda item for many organisations.

Especially those service provider organisations, especially at the larger end, who are starting to realise that they simply don’t have enough real visibility into the specific, day by day, resource allocation status of their teams – a lack of visibility that can be very damaging to bottom-line profitability.

We all care deeply about profitability– especially after the longest downturn since the Second World War, a time we now call the Great Recession. And while it is fantastic to see the UK economy kick back into life, we have all seen big changes in the market, changes that will shape business for some time to come.

A lot of these fundamental changes are, I think, very well distilled in a resource we have that I’d like to draw your attention it. This is a great White Paper that looks into how PSA is being increasingly used to deliver both customer transparency and genuine competitive advantage.

Delivering Customer Transparency & Competitive Advantage White Paper

Perhaps the biggest change for the professional services automation – an evolution that might have happened separately from the ‘Great Recesssion,’ but which has undeniably been accelerated by it – is the risk of alienating the very people you need most to survive, your own ‘human capital’ – your staff.

The bottom line for the PSA market is that if you are solely focused on billable hours – which we’d argue is just one component of a total PSA narrative – you may be becoming seen as simply clock-watching your employees instead of looking for more sophisticated ways of assessing their contributions.

What’s the basis for this? Fascinating independent research from the highly respected CASS Business School at City University London in a study called Financialisation as a Strategy of Workplace Control in Professional Service Firms (you can evaluate it for yourself in more depth here).

The academics who produced this paper argued that a continued obsession with billable hours has come at the expense of quality – and, in any case, is too narrow a measure of performance by a professional services provider.

What’s happening, they believe, is that the bean counters in the Professional Service sector have put far too high a stress on billing and charge out. Why would this be a problem, you might ask? Surely that’s the name of the game – we need to sweat the asset here and get the most return from our staff we can?

Real visibility and insight

Well, perhaps – but that could be a short-term gain with longer term consequences if you’re not careful (by this logic at least). The White Paper warns about alienating your best talent by failing to properly motivate or develop employees, annoying talented staff so they leave or don’t want to move away from revenue generating roles into leadership positions that you need to guarantee the next wave of success.

Thae research says that smart professional services firms need to look at rebalancing mere fee income with other factors to get to better, more rounded, measures of good staff performance.

You may or may not agree. The point is that the world is changing and simplistic, charge-sheet only ways of assessing contribution may have stopped cutting it.

We argue – based on working with our clients, many of whom have faced just this very challenge – that it’s time to adapt your old business models and practices to the realities of a much more complicated, competitive market.

And the way to do that is to get a much richer, much more detailed view of employee performance – which is where systems like the V1 PSA platform, we’d argue, can deliver real insights.

What do you think? Has the recession changed our market for ever or not? Is it right to focus on billable hours only?

Join the debate about the shape of PSA to come here at V1 – we’d love to hear your views!

Thanks for your time and speak soon.

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