Many of today’s leading professional services companies share two priorities: embracing digital transformation and learning how to operate with agility.
The other benefits—such as engaged employees, happier customers, and healthier bottom lines—trickle down from there. However, digital transformation and agile operations are not end goals. They’re moving targets that require ongoing investments.
For example, just because you’ve completed a strategic initiative doesn’t mean your work is done. Chances are that other areas of operations need improvement—or there’s a new digital tool on the market that can deliver tremendous upside to your organization.
The same holds true for agility. Once you’ve gotten to the point where you can actually call yourself an agile organization, you still need to operate with agility, responding rapidly to every concern and opportunity that comes your way.
As such, successful professional services companies apply an iterative approach to both digital transformation and agility. They know their work is never done, and they continuously try to improve where they can.
One of the key technologies that organizations are turning to for digital transformation and agility is professional services automation (PSA) software.
What Is PSA Software?
PSA software is designed to help professional services providers —such as lawyers, IT consultants, accountants, and marketing agencies—automate their approach to project management.
Quite simply, PSA software can help professional services firms build more efficiency into all aspects of their operations. In turn, this increases productivity, billable utilization, and financial margins, among other things.
More broadly, thanks to improved collaboration, increased transparency, and better planning, PSA software can help organizations improve project management and resource allocation across the entire engagement lifecycle.
What Is the Engagement Lifecycle?
The client engagement lifecycle is the journey your employees take from the time they learn about a prospective client through the time they’ve satisfied the terms of their contract.
Although different professional services firms have slightly different interpretations of what the engagement lifecycle looks like, here’s a general overview that should give you a good idea.
Step 1: Propose
The first step of the engagement lifecycle is the act of actually trying to land a client. Here, teammates put together proposals and outline things such as projected costs, resources required, and timelines. As the team starts engaging with clients, proposals become more and more specific, and objectives are refined.
Step 2: Initiate
Once a client has signed on, it’s time to start prepping team members and colleagues about the upcoming engagement. Resource and personnel requirements are further refined, and managers begin allocating them.
Step 3: Execute
After the right people and resources are in place, it’s time for the team to begin performing the actual work. During this stage, employees need to keep track of time, expenses, documents, invoices, and other items.
Step 4: Monitor
The fourth step of the engagement lifecycle involves managers monitoring the progression of projects. Are they coming along nicely? Where do they stand from a budgetary perspective? Are the projects shaping up to be profitable? These are some of the questions managers need to answer.
Step 5: Close
The fifth and final step of the engagement lifecycle refers to closing out a contract once all deliverables have been accepted and services have been provided. Here, it’s time to tie up all loose ends, make sure the client is satisfied, and send out an invoice.
Historically, professional services firms completed each of these steps using a combination of paper-based processes, spreadsheets, and other outdated technologies. The good news is that—thanks to PSA solutions—it’s much easier to ensure that each stage of the engagement lifecycle goes smoothly.
How PSA Solutions Can Help at Each Stage of the Engagement Lifecycle
PSA solutions can help professional services firms take the next step in their digital transformation journey while building more agility into their operations.
By providing a real-time view into the status of all engagements—wherever they happen to be in the lifecycle—PSA platforms give professional services companies the peace of mind that comes with knowing where everything stands at a given moment.
What’s more, that real-time view is spread across every engagement. Managers can look at a single dashboard and find out how projects are progressing at any time—and whether the right people and resources are in place.
More specifically, PSA solutions can help with opportunity management, contract management, resource management, project management, time and expense management, financial management and revenue recognition, and more.
Supercharge Your Professional Services Firm with PSA Software
Although your professional services company might have been doing things the same way for many years, there’s no sense in making things harder than they need to be. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a look at the tools in your team’s arsenal, it may be time to reassess your operations and see where you can improve.
A simple investment in the right PSA solution can go a long way toward optimizing all aspects of your firm—increasing your team’s effectiveness across each step of the engagement lifecycle. That’s the ticket to happier clients, more productive employees, and better business outcomes.
To learn more about how your professional services firm can deliver more value to your clients while giving managers real-time visibility into every engagement, check out our Services Automation solution.