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What you missed from our London breakfast seminar with Salesforce

Recently, Kimble and Salesforce jointly hosted a breakfast seminar at the prestigious Andaz Hotel for around 40 CEOs and senior partners of London and the Home Counties’ fastest-growing professional services organizations (PSOs).

The event was focused around how consultancies can drive revenue and profit growth to allow them to scale more efficiently. Guest speaker David Bailey explained how PSOs looking to support ambitious growth targets need to embed best practices and a collaborative culture to allow the executive team to drive down operational accountability into lower tiers of the organization. This, he claimed, will have the dual benefits of freeing up partners’ time to focus more on the expansion strategy and of empowering employees to make decisions that impact business performance, leading to faster career development, greater loyalty, and improved client service.

David, a former President of the Management Consultancies Association and strategic advisor to management consulting and IT services firms, asserted that many PSOs remain unexplainably mired in the thinking of the last decade. He cited three major developments that make this a barrier to growth:

  1. Increasing client maturity means consultancy is much better understood, compartmentalized, and therefore risks commoditization
  2. That talent retention a greater challenge than ever before partly because consultancy is less likely to be considered a lifelong career
  3. Failure to fully exploit technological advances and enable ‘on-demand’ working practices and facilities

Looking back on a nearly 30-year career in management consultancy, David expressed astonishment at PSOs that continue to employ manual processes full of disparate spreadsheets and files despite the widely acknowledged inadequacies of such systems.

“Most consultancies sell-in the project, then work out the resourcing and then forecast the margins they’ll make,” he said. “But isn’t that completely backwards? Shouldn’t you work out the resourcing and therefore the margin before selling? Surely that should be a critical part of your pricing strategy for that project!”

David set out five principles for “enlightened leadership” in PSOs; they would manage:

  1. with access to a single, real-time, integrated data source
  2. by taking a joined-up view of sales and delivery
  3. through forward-looking resource allocation to optimize consultant utilization and maximize productivity
  4. in a way that allows operational decision-making to be driven down through the business
  5. such that the business framework and principles are firmly set and adhered to

Kimble customer Tim Parfitt, CEO of Netcel, a digital agency specializing in strategy, creative, technical development and digital marketing, then talked attendees through how he had put these principles into practice.

Tim explained how two years operating Kimble improved his senior team’s view of almost every different type of client engagement in terms of KPIs for utilization rates, reporting, forecasting, and even HR. Business performance reviews can now be held six working days into the new month, rather than 15. Full confidence in the accuracy and currency of the data under discussion makes for better, faster commercial decisions. For example, Tim said accurate profitability data allowed them make the decision to retire an unprofitable client, and that it was now possible to take swift corrective action on projects where profitability was falling. Netcel’s overall profitability has shot up:

“We’re no longer a charity to some of our clients,” he said.

He claimed the key was in recognizing and accepting that systems and processes had grown organically with the firm, and no longer necessarily made good business sense.

“We were open to changing our working models to match best-of-breed systems, rather than forcing the software to exactly model our own procedures, because we knew what we were doing no longer represented best practice.

“We needed something that really understood how a PSO needs to work: Kimble does, which made them a business decision, not a technology decision.”

To learn more about how Kimble can help your organization to scale and grow by supporting cultural change that embeds and reinforces best practice, get in touch today. We can help you get higher utilization rates and gross margins, reduce your time and expense write-offs, sharpen your forecasting capabilities, and give you greater control over your business.

Note: the breakfast seminar took place on Thursday, 12th November 2015 at the Andaz Hotel in London