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Vendor to Visionary 470An old country and western saying recommends that folks “dance with the one that brought ya” – which, for those unfamiliar with homestead lore, translates into: staying loyal to what has brought success vs. swapping in something new is both good manners and good strategy.

However, there are times when what seems like devotion can in fact be dangerous, because rather than extending the dance, refusing to change partners ironically hurls it towards a crashing, crushing end. And that’s the scenario that many professional service organizations (PSOs) face today, or will be forced to grapple with in the future.

Here’s why: successful PSOs invariably reach a point when, in order to grow in the short-term and survive in the long-term, they must stop relying primarily on a staff augmentation model, and start functioning as a strategic consulting partner. That is, instead of continuing to respond (however brilliantly) to their clients’ complex needs, PSOs have the opportunity – and frankly, the obligation since their existence ultimately depends on it– to start systematically exploiting their vast and valuable knowledge capital, experiences and insights to create value and build solutions.

However, most PSOs on this evolutionary path unexpectedly and unhappily discover that their biggest obstacle isn’t external, or rooted in paradigms, policies or people. Surprisingly, the enemy within is the very same project management infrastructure that, for so many years, enabled their success. In other words, it brought ‘em to the dance.

Except now, the music has changed and it’s time for a new partner – because the current infrastructure is geared towards the past rather than the future. As such, it’s unleashing confusion, chaos and conflict, and paradoxically impeding growth instead of enabling it.

Facing this dilemma – which it bears repeating it not just about profitability, but essentially about survival – PSOs need to call a time out, take a step back, and comprehensively evaluate their project management infrastructure to identify what they’re getting vs. what they need at the portfolio, program and project levels. Typically, this courageous gut check exercise reveals the following requirements:
•          Improve overall success rates on all levels: time, budget, scope and client satisfaction
•          Enhance collaboration between sales, finance and service delivery teams
•          Create an accurate and centralized “single source of truth”
•          Support internal and external teams, as well as remote workers
•          Provide clients with up-to-date progress and milestone information
•          Integrate systems in the environment to create automated and customized workflows
•          Access real-time visibility of activities and progress
•          Improve financial data – especially regarding margins, ROI and profitability
•          Improve resource allocation to ensure team members are kept off the bench and optimally utilized
•          Increase accountability at all levels from the CEO to the front lines
•          Support faster and smarter execution flexibility
•          Improve operational intelligence
•          Accelerate the pace of innovation
•          Increase standardization, consistency and repeatability across implementations
Essentially, in order to evolve from staff augmentation specialists into strategic consulting partners, PSOs need to shift from vendor to visionary. And while there are many pieces of this puzzle and it doesn’t happen overnight, a defining aspect of the story will be a matter of project management infrastructure – and whether it’s stuck in the past, or primed for the future. Because sometimes “dancing with the one that brought ya” isn’t helpful advice. On the contrary, it’s dangerous counsel.

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Clarizen is trusted by successful PSOs around the world who need to evolve from vendor to visionary – both those that have reached a critical inflection point in their development, and those that want to proactively establish an infrastructure for sustained growth. Learn more with a free 30-day test drive.

Roni Feldsher
Roni Feldsher joined Clarizen in 2011 and leads the Americas Enterprise customer success team. He and his team are focused on helping Clarizen's customers gain the most value possible and maximize user adoption of the solution. Before joining Clarizen, Roni held software engineering and professional services positions at a financial risk management software startup and was instrumental in the company's rapid growth and acquisition by Harland Financial Solutions. Roni holds a B.S. in Information Systems engineering and is a graduate of the Technion Institute Advanced Project Management course.