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Shaping a Future of Excellence: Kantata’s Vision for the Professional Services Cloud

Shaping a Future of Excellence: Kantata’s Vision for the Professional Services Cloud

UPDATEDNov 14, 2023

By Michael Speranza, CEO, Kantata

In an ever-evolving professional services landscape, services organizations are grappling with business opportunities and challenges that require more effective technology solutions. 

I am thrilled to unveil Kantata’s vision for the Professional Services Cloud (PS Cloud), which reshapes the boundaries for what technology designed for services organizations needs to do.

As we delve deeper into this vision, I will provide insight into what distinguishes the emerging PS Cloud category from past approaches to professional services technology. Moreover, I’ll highlight precisely why the Kantata Professional Services Cloud stands as a pioneering force, poised to transform operations and enable more effective scaling for businesses within the professional services industry.

What is a Professional Services Cloud?

Professional services organizations revolve around people – their exceptional skills and talents are integral to success. Given this, it’s only fitting that these people-centric businesses require people-centric solutions that cater to their unique needs. PS Cloud solutions have emerged to meet that need. They empower PS organizations to manage their business through a lens that is not limited to focusing on financial metrics.  They can understand the impacts on the wide array of people that make the business successful, including employees, partners, and clients. When this happens, it’s not just billable utilization and margins that improve – employee engagement, client delivery and retention do as well. Consequently, businesses avoid the substantial costs associated with replacing top talent and valued clients.

Achieving these improvements requires alignment across a complex professional services lifecycle, with sequenced handoffs across sales, resourcing, delivery, customer success, and finance teams. A Professional Services Cloud delivers a complete set of vertical SaaS solutions that are purpose built to make PS organizations more productive at every step of the professional services value chain, ensuring better outcomes for their teams and clients. A PS Cloud connects to all dimensions of this value chain and orchestrates resource planning, service delivery, time capture, and project accounting to provide the future outlook necessary to keep their skilled workforce and client-enabling work aligned.

Why the PS Cloud Is Crucial Now

On a daily basis, I engage in discussions with professional services leaders, delving into the formidable challenges they grapple with while overseeing their organizations. The resounding message I consistently hear revolves around the rapid transformation of their operational landscape in a remarkably short span.

Just a mere 12 months ago, businesses throughout the industry were contending with an exodus of talent and overwhelming demand that outstripped their capacity to meet it. In a swift turn of events, the industry found itself compelled to quickly adapt to a shifting set of requirements:

  • The focus shifted from mere hiring to talent enrichment.
  • The once seemingly insatiable demand transformed into efficiently utilizing global capacity.
  • A mindset of staffing at any cost gave way to a more strategic approach of accessing existing resources in the most cost-effective manner.

In this altered landscape, PS leaders are entrusted with the arduous task of achieving more with less – maintaining or even enhancing client outcomes while operating with leaner teams than they have operated with previously. Navigating these headwinds and delivering exceptional financial and client outcomes requires clear insights into how forthcoming client demands align with the available skills within their workforce.

But it’s clear from Forrester Consulting research we commissioned alongside Salesforce that many PS organizations lack that insight, or aren’t able to trust the data they’re seeing – the majority of PS decision-makers we surveyed say they can’t predict resource needs in advance, can’t engage in robust forecasting, and can’t see how actual performance compares to planned performance. And that’s driving lower-than-expected profits, poor employee retention, and poor client retention. 

So what’s the solution? According to the findings of that Forrester study, unique industry needs require modern, purpose-built vertical SaaS solutions: “The generic, one-size-fits-all approach of traditional horizontal software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions fails to meet the unique, complex needs of professional services (PS) organizations. To meet these requirements, vertical SaaS for PS solutions are emerging to deliver industry-specific tools.”

We’ve seen this trajectory many times when it comes to highly specialized industries and the tools they use – the financial services and healthcare industries are two prominent examples where this shift has already taken place. At a certain point, the technology needs of an industry become so specific that only solutions built specifically to serve the vertical can keep up. 

That turning point has clearly come for the PS industry. PS leaders recognize that generic approaches and costly customizations are holding them back – 78% of PS leaders say that technology suppliers offering generic solutions holds back the potential of their organizations, and a staggering 81% admit that being forced to customize solutions to meet their core use cases is both a financial drain and a logistical headache. 

Vertical SaaS is the clear path forward for the PS industry. And that’s where the PS Cloud, which adapts the vertically-oriented industry cloud concept to the specialized professional services sector, comes in.

Leaving Old Ways of Thinking Behind

While the PS Cloud category is not the first software category that has been aimed at the technology needs of the PS industry, it is the only one with a vision that is fit for the future of the industry. 

The legacy Professional Services Automation (PSA) category, now over two decades old, has struggled to shake off its legacy as an appendage to ERP solutions, originally designed to have something to sell to services leaders. Unfortunately, many of the PSA solutions currently available in the market have failed to keep pace with the evolving priorities of contemporary professional services organizations.

For prospective buyers attempting to navigate the PSA landscape today, it’s akin to maneuvering through a labyrinth filled with multiple dead ends. The category has become inundated with a multitude of one-size-fits-all, horizontal solutions that have merely tacked on superficial PS-specific features. These additions do not align with the scalability required by the businesses that deploy them.

In the Forrester Consulting study I referenced, more than one- third of PS leaders who had adopted PSA failed to recognize their PSA solution as a vertical SaaS solution tailored specifically to the needs of professional services organizations. To emphasize, this means that one in every three business leaders utilizing a Professional Services Automation solution did not believe they were leveraging a solution designed to cater to the distinct requirements of professional services.

It’s time for something new. Here are three things that distinguish the vision for PS Cloud from what has come before:

  • 1. PS Cloud is purpose-built to drive value realization across the entire professional services lifecycle

    Coordinating the professional services lifecycle across teams is hard enough on one project. Services businesses are doing it across multiple projects and clients simultaneously. Project-centric point solutions, force-fit suite applications, and legacy PSA solutions built for another era aren’t going to cut it. Purpose-built technology that aligns the teams and processes that drive the professional services lifecycle is essential to the ongoing success of services organizations and their clients.

    By delivering a comprehensive set of vertical solutions targeting all the use cases and demands of a PS organization, from resource planning to service delivery to time capture to billing, a PS Cloud synchronizes processes and data that often remain siloed and empowers decision-makers across the business with the insights they need to be proactive and decisive.

  • 2. PS Cloud is focused on client outcomes, not just financials

    The concept of Professional Services Automation (PSA), originally stemming from ERP, was primarily centered around optimizing project profitability. This optimization primarily revolved around enhancing two key performance indicators: project margin and billable utilization. While improving margin and utilization undeniably wields a considerable influence on overall profitability, as a PS leader, is your sole concern restricted to margin and utilization alone – even if those things come at the expense of client or employee satisfaction and sentiment?

    Then don’t limit your focus to those metrics. A business poised for long-term success will measure the quality of their deliverables and impact they are having on clients. By expanding the focus of professional services technology beyond mere financial outcomes, PS Cloud equips client-facing teams with the kinds of contextual, in-the-moment insights they need to ensure the work you do satisfies clients as well as the bottom line.

  • 3. PS Cloud is people-centric, not project-centric

    A PS Cloud is built and architected around the piece that runs your business, which is your people. There is only so much a PS leader is going to be able to understand about their business and the skilled individuals that make it viable if they are only able to look at performance through the lens of projects. But this is how a lot of solutions PS leaders use today are built – with a data model that puts projects firmly at the center and obscures essential information about the workforce. When I speak with PS leaders using project-centric tools like legacy PSA solutions to manage their business, one of the primary frustrations they share with me is that the data they need to optimize their workforce simply does not exist. 

    By putting people at the center of the data model rather than projects, a PS Cloud enables PS leaders to interrogate workforce-centric data in ways that are simply not possible with a project-centric solution. This gives them the insights they need to answer the questions that are most critical to the success of both individuals and the business.

When a professional services organization embraces a Professional Services Cloud solution grounded in these foundational principles, it’s not merely unlocking transformational benefits that weren’t previously possible – benefits like precisely accurate revenue and resource forecasts the business can actually trust.

Additionally, the organization reaps the rewards of expedited deployment and time-to-value and reduced total cost of ownership. This ability to unlock meaningful value quickly and then deepen this value over time is made possible through the inherent configurability and adaptability that can only be harnessed from authentic vertical SaaS solutions.

Thriving Together: Navigating Success in the Digital Transformation Age

Kantata’s vision for the future of the Professional Services Cloud is set to redefine the landscape of this dynamic industry. As the foremost global provider of professional services technology, we are leading the way into the PS Cloud era with a bold vision that transcends the conventional “cost and schedule” mindset.

Central to this visionary journey is a renewed focus on the transformative potential of technology, specifically in the realm of cultivating devoted clients and nurturing a top-tier workforce. Our excitement is palpable as we introduce groundbreaking innovations such as Kantata Pulse that embody the essence of this vision, and we eagerly anticipate the transformative impact they will have.

Kantata’s unwavering commitment to maintain a singular focus on the unique needs of the PS industry underscores our determination to lead the charge in innovation. Collectively, we are forging a future where your business can not only thrive but also leave clients genuinely delighted.

Always remember, your success is our success, and we are thrilled to embark on this remarkable journey alongside you. Together, we are shaping a future where excellence knows no bounds, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us.

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