Business leaders looking at investing in new software to help their companies grow do worry about the risk of failure. They are well aware that some IT projects don’t get the results that were promised. While there are cases in which the wrong product was chosen, many times the reason for failure is because the client team wasn’t ready to do things differently.
By Rob Bruce – Vice President, Sales
When new software is brought on board, some companies realize the benefits more quickly than others. What makes the difference? We have identified a set of behaviors that we see our most successful professional services clients adopt. We work with a wide range of consulting organizations around the world, and many achieve increases in profitability in the region of 25%.
They use professional services automation (PSA) to become more agile operators and manage their businesses more responsively. But, these organizations need to be prepared to adjust to new ways of working to realize the benefits of new technology.
Realizing the potential offered by contemporaneous information means adopting a new approach to decision-making: more nimble, more localized, more effective.
In other words, the gap between those who swiftly deliver benefits and those who don’t has more to do with their approach than their product choice. It’s all about understanding that you are transitioning to a more effective way of working – you have to accept some change.
Here are the key strategies that successful implementers tend to adopt:
Executives provide sponsorship: Senior management teams are strongly united in their resolve. They are committed to the project intellectually, emotionally, and financially. They are clear that this will involve new ways of working and are ready to rise to this challenge. They focus their teams on desired outcomes. In other words, they are ready to give the organization a positive charge, which they understand is needed to deliver a step change in scalability and profitability.
They set a realistic timetable with a determination to deliver key capabilities in 2-3 months from inception, then hone details later. They then monitor adoption metrics to track progress.
They designate champions: Top quality people are selected from each department to participate in and drive the implementation project. They are given the authority, accountability and time they need. They are not easily taken off the project because some other short-term priority surfaces. They collaborate with one another in workshops to decide on future working practices and how they want the system to behave. They take knowledge, confidence, and enthusiasm back to their colleagues where they spread the word, explain why key choices were made, and demonstrate how the system can deliver benefits in their own areas of work.
There is a positive focus on adoption, led by the department champions who can surface and resolve staff concerns. Individual employees give “green,” ”amber,” and “red” lights to change. They will be consistently pointed towards the benefits for the company, and also to “What’s in it for me?” explanations of how they have opportunities to benefit.
They are open-minded: Everyone is prepared to take a fresh look at how the business operates. They ask whether working a particular way really supports the desired business outcomes such as improved utilization, faster billing or earlier warning about resource demand. They ask whether these ways of working are fit for the future – do they accommodate planned growth? They consider whether they can push decision-making down in the organization, such as empowering project managers to approve time and expense, monitor and manage project profitability, or even lead the weekly period closure process for their projects.
One example of how to do this right is Kainos. In 2015 they IPO’d with an industry leading valuation, and in the year since the float, they have grown a further 26% without compromising a best-in-class profit before taxation margin of 19%. In the four years they have used Kimble, they have grown from 370 people to over 1000. Their ability to manage that growth has been greatly enhanced by a more disciplined and speedy approach to gathering performance information and a new forward-focused decision-making process.
Kainos took a robust and consistent approach to implementing professional services automation. They ensured in a variety of ways that every member of staff was inputting the right information in a timely fashion, and that people were held accountable for their part of the business and empowered to improve its performance. They have done this in a way that means resource utilization, recruitment, revenue forecasting, and project troubleshooting are all tied together with a “golden source” of current information.
In conclusion, we find that the companies which are best able to capitalize on the potential of technology are those whose executives drive the change, rather than just approving the software purchase. These leaders identify and empower champions from each affected department. They take a phased, personalized, and positive approach to adoption, and communicate benefits early and often. And, crucially, they and their organizations are willing to question the justification of the current processes. Great software and well-managed transitions to new ways of working is the ideal combination for adopting professional services automation, or any other enterprise software.
If you’d like to know more about our how Kimble provides a framework for you to define the ways of working that will deliver your business goals and a phased approach for implementing professional services automation, please contact us.