- How PSA Can Help Bridge the Skills Gap – by Mike Pilcher
by Mike Pilcher, Chief Revenue Officer
Skills shortages create problems for professional services organizations
Demand for ICT professionals continues to grow in both Europe and the USA. Recent estimates by both the European Commission and the Bureau of Labour Statistics suggest that demand for high-tech skills is likely to outstrip supply. Competition to hire and retain high-performing individuals with the right digital skills is therefore likely to continue to be intense.
This situation will lead to upward pressure on wages – and that makes the time of the highly-skilled professionals employed by many services organizations even more valuable. It could also create other problems – such as issues with resourcing projects effectively. Some businesses may find they struggle to deliver projects on time due to the difficulty of resourcing them appropriately. Professional services organizations may find themselves unable to take advantage of opportunities in the market, or else dealing with delays and backlogs which can impact customer satisfaction.
Workplace technology such as PSA can help by increasing productivity
Professional services automation offers a way to combat these problems. It allows companies to operate more effectively, making the most of the time and skills of existing human resources and increasing productivity. Many Kimble customers experience productivity increases of 5% – that is the equivalent of increasing employee numbers by 5% – but at a fraction of the cost. Below are five of the ways in which PSA can help:
Using PSA creates visibility of how the valuable time of human resources is being used throughout the company, not only in customer-facing roles but in all departments. How much time are people spending in internally-focused work, or in administrative tasks? Having an accurate view of billable utilization, average rate and so on is an important basis for increasing efficiency. Being able to see what is ahead is also the best basis for balancing different priorities and choosing the most appropriate and most profitable projects.
Many of the roles within a services organization involve some tasks which can be automated. There is generally scope to reduce laborious manual effort – such as maintaining spreadsheets or transferring information onto homegrown systems. Also in the area of finance – automation tools can help to ensure that billing and invoicing are accurate and swift and done with the minimum of effort. Another aspect of automation is in coaching and prompting employees throughout the organization to take the next expected step. These kind of automated tools can be used to support more junior, or less experienced staff to work at the level of the highest performers.
Linking CRM with sales through the PSA is the basis for a more forward-looking view of resourcing. Being able to soft-book individuals to engagements ahead of time allows for proactive instead of reactive resource management. Also increasingly services businesses benefit from being able to operate in a truly global way, being able to cross book resources across different divisions and different locations. This reduces the amount of time that is wasted or under-utilised.
PSA gives a better view of the opportunities ahead – including those that may be lost due to a lack of availability of resources with appropriate skills. Aggregating demand is a better basis for hiring the right skills – and being ahead of the curve on this is an advantage in a tight market.
5 Project management
Using PSA makes it much easier to give project managers visibility into the commercial details of the project. Being able to see at a glance the implications of all decisions about time and resourcing on the project margin enables the manager to run the project much more efficiently. Putting powerful PSA tools in the hands of the project manager helps them to deliver the project on time, on budget and without wasting resources.