Optimizing the Professional Services Value Chain: How to Demonstrate Value at Every Stage of the Project Lifecycle
Powerful forces are reshaping the professional services industry, changing client expectations. Demand is volatile. Competition is fierce. And needs evolve rapidly. To win projects, meet client expectations, and build long-term relationships, professional services firms must adapt, too.
Traditionally, sales conversations centered around exactly what the customer was buying. For product-based businesses, it was all about features. For services-based companies, the focus was on abilities. But that’s no longer the case. Businesses aren’t buying products or services based solely on what they can do. Now, they want to know exactly how those products and services will benefit the business — and they want that benefit quantified.
Though it’s considerably more challenging to quantify value when your people are your product, clients expect professional services firms, and even service organizations embedded within product companies, to be able to both measure and communicate value at every step. It’s no longer enough to demonstrate your impact only when a project is at or near completion, during the delivery phase of the project lifecycle. Value must be brought forward at every step.
The processes or activities through which a professional services firm adds value to a project is called the professional services value chain. It encompasses the entire project lifecycle, beginning with the sell phase, when you’re trying to win a specific job or client, and continuing through the subsequent execution and delivery phases: resource management, project and delivery management, account and relationship management, accounting and billing, and performance analysis and improvement.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Getting It Right From The Start
The unique needs of each client impact the way they measure or determine value. Before you can deliver on those expectations, it’s critical to clearly define them. This should be done at the outset of the project and will help firms not only meet client needs but also show exactly how the project execution aligns to their expectations.
Keep in mind that every project has its own unique professional services value chain that corresponds to each stage of the project lifecycle. Optimizing value requires visibility into and across projects, agility to adapt on demand, and the ability to continually maximize efficiencies.
Executing and Delivering
Once you’ve won a job, you need to figure out the best way to staff it to make the most of your available resources while also meeting agreed upon milestones. Strategic resource allocation is mission critical to delivering value throughout the lifecycle, and it starts with accurate insights.
Keeping projects on schedule and on budget as you progress also hinges on the ability to monitor those milestones and make adjustments as needed when conflicts arise. Clear progress tracking and efficient conflict management will also make it easier to maintain manageable workloads for your employees and resources—which directly impacts their work.
The Value in Relationships
Revenue isn’t the only measure of value. Client satisfaction matters, too. Empowering your client services or customer success teams with the information and insights they need to foster strong partnerships will help to build long-term success. Keeping project information up-to-date and easily accessible helps these teams do a better job of keeping clients informed — and communicating value.
The New Technology Mandate
Maximizing resources and bottom-line performance, as well as providing the best possible client experience, requires a modern approach to project management — and modern, purpose-built solutions. Firms attempting to meet the demands of this new professional services value chain framework using traditional project management tools may find themselves behind the curve.
The key to realizing value at each stage of the project lifecycle is visibility, insight, and agility.
It starts with accurate forecasting before you begin a project, and flows all the way through to accounting, billing, and analysis — where both client value and firm revenue are tallied up and opportunities for improvement are identified. Every stage of the professional services value chain is connected, and it all requires a services-oriented solution that integrates the essential processes into a centralized platform, bringing visibility across the entire project lifecycle.
The bottom line: New expectations call for new processes. For people-powered businesses, showing clients that you’re delivering on your promises at every step of the project lifecycle means adopting a new approach. A purpose-built tool like the Kantata Professional Services Cloud is transformative when it comes to consistently demonstrating value. Not only will this help to ensure client satisfaction and loyalty, it also impacts profitability. Anywhere you can maximize efficiencies and optimize value helps to bolster the business and protect both short- and long-term success.
Find Success Across The Value Chain
To help professional services organizations understand how they can successfully deliver on client expectations at each step of the professional services value chain, we’ve published a whitepaper that lays out the actions and approaches they should take at each stage of the project lifecycle. Download it now to learn more.