2015 Professional Service Leaders Forum: A fruitful innings at Lord’s

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By Alan Crean, Subject Matter Expert in Professional Services Automation and Project Portfolio Management, Changepoint

Leading lights from the world of PSA gathered at Lord’s cricket ground on 13 May to discuss the industry’s biggest topics in the 2015 Professional Service Leaders Forum.

Former CTO of BT Global Services Correy Voo gave an insight into what drives spending on PS, before Jeanne Urich shared industry insight from PSI research organisation SPI. Later in the day Dave Pepper from the MPA Group explained how HMRC approaches taxing projects, while Dimension Data’s Gary Neveling laid bare the complexities involved in merging separate PS firms.

Spending the day in the media centre overlooking the world’s most famous cricket ground, they showed the England team how it’s done by hitting a six; here are six big talking points I took from the event:

  • Smaller projects are on the increase. In their most traditional form, projects took place on a large scale, making it easy to bring in juniors and ramp up activity where required. But the rising prevalence of smaller projects means that they are happening more ‘on the fly’ than ever before. It can prove more of a struggle to make money from smaller projects, and a challenge for decision makers to think on their feet about issues such as resourcing.

Potential struggles can be alleviated by putting templates in place that allow things to be actioned quickly. Standard methodologies can speed things along, and one effective tactic can be to treat some members of staff as a floating resource, available to be pulled into projects where necessary.

  • CVs are often too impersonal within PSI. The people will deliver the projects after all, so whether you’re pitching for new business or seeking a new role, bring the person out. Put the effort in, because as Muhammad Ali said, the fight is won or lost long before you dance under the lights.

That can involve thinking creatively about images and layout: there are no rules, so why not use a magazine-style layout rather than black words on a white background? Don’t be meek: use figures as a proof point, and outline how adding this person to the team will change things.

  • Process Intelligence is not a new concept anymore. Having matured in recent years, it is now having a real impact on the way people work. Process Intelligence has now become a vital tool for driving automation, cost reduction and revenue growth within the Professional Services arena.
  • EMEA projects are not as agile as North American ones. I know that in the European marketplace we are particularly good at service productising and packaging, and it’s something businesses we service can be comfortable with.

But that means our projects have to run in a less Agile way than our American counterparts. We struggle to scale up and down, which can come as a result of a much slower adoption of new trends compared to the Silicon Valley trailblazers.

  • Recruitment within EMEA is also different. The PS labour market is different in this region: for a start, a three-month notice period can be common, meaning it takes time to get a potential new recruit onboarded and up and running on projects. Another difference is employee engagement: it’s generally much higher in EMEA than North America, which presents an apparent contradiction. Employees are largely satisfied where they are but they are not at all reluctant to move on either.
  • Within projects and PS, there are too many bids for new business that fail to get the basics right. Spend time on the bid/no bid decision: is the proposed work in your zone, is it an opportunity to stretch your organisation further, or is this just a bog standard proposition? When bidding for new business, it’s critical to have a good idea of the organisation you’re pitching to, respect what they do and engage them in what you’re saying.

Then get to work hitting their pain points: don’t be afraid to call out previous mistakes, as they can be used as a way to position yourselves as the game-changer.

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