In its 2016 Professional Services Maturity™ Benchmark, Service Performance Insights notes that in response to shifting human capital dynamics, professional services organizations (PSO) must “create a different type of workforce that requires technical and client management competency with equal parts of flexibility, autonomy and accountability.”
Naturally, talent management programs must play a major role in achieving the first part of this formula: enabling technical and client manage competency. However, the other elements – flexibility, autonomy and accountability – are significantly driven by project management software that either enables, or avoids, human capital alignment.
It goes without saying that PSOs cannot afford to have project management software work against their people – because then instead of earning spot in the S quadrant of their SWOT diagram, it falls firmly in the T. Yet this is exactly what is happening in many PSOs around the world where work takes longer and costs more than it should, quality and performance fall below standards and expectations, and too many customers feel disappointment instead of delight.
Again, the cause of this common scenario is often not – as many PSO executives are led to believe – a matter of talent management that can only be solved by aggressive (and costly) recruiting and development. Rather, as mentioned it’s frequently rooted in inferior project management software that, frankly, was never developed in the first place with the needs of PSOs in mind.
And so, since this is the problem that keeps PSO executives up at night – and drives employees up the wall, and sometimes even out the door – what’s the solution? As noted above, it’s to ensure that project management software fundamentally enables and systematically supports flexibility, autonomy and accountability.
Flexibility – In terms of flexibility, PSOs must ensure that their project management software:
Offers full configuration of every aspect, including dashboards, workflows, business rules, user-based profiles, policies, approval requirements, languages, local currencies, actions, fields, and so on. At the same time, configuration and reconfiguration must be interface-driven and achieved without having to touch a line of code.
Features an open API, apps, developer toolkit, single sign-on (SSO) support and LDAP integrations, so that it fits seamlessly with other solutions and tools in the environment, such as customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, document management, online proofing, enterprise business intelligence (BI), dashboards, calendars, and so on.
Lets employees personalize and configure their workspaces to align with their individual needs, habits and preferences. They must also be able to login to the system from their mobile device, and access all pre-set configurations (e.g. views, rules, etc.).
Autonomy – In terms of autonomy, PSOs must ensure that their project management software:
Supports high-level implementation planning, so that PSO teams working on specific implementations – and therefore “closest to the action” – can independently create comprehensive implementation roadmaps complete with tasks, interdependencies, deliverables, milestones, due dates, assigned resources, etc.
Gives PSO teams real-time views of projects and the portfolio, so they have the autonomy they need to collaborate directly, and efficiently share information via widgets, roadmaps, graphs and project plans.
Drive faster, smarter decision making at the implementation level by allowing all relevant and authorized stakeholders – including external collaborators such as vendors, consultants and customers – to share in-context insights, and immediately take action.
Accountability – In terms of accountability, PSOs must ensure that their project management software:
Enables transparency – and as such clarifies ownership and accountability – by allowing PSO teams to see how tasks roll up into specific projects and overall organizational goals. Naturally, this transparency boosts engagement and motivation as well.
Drives visibility – which also supports ownership and accountability – by automatically connecting online discussions to entire projects, as well as work items, tasks, approvals, timesheets, budgets, documents, emails, and posts.
Establishes a single, centralized work management platform that gives PSO teams immediate access to the relevant information they need, when they need it. After all, accountability with the infrastructure to support it puts teams in position to succeed; whereas accountability without infrastructure sets them up for failure.
Not a Magic Wand – but Certainly Transformative
With all of this being said, there’s no suggestion that project management software is a magic wand that instantly enables PSOs to achieve perfect human capital alignment. As every executive knows, this is a work-in-progress – because the landscape is always changing both internally and externally.
However, as demonstrated in profitable and growing PSOs around the world, the right project management software is certainly transformative, because among other rewards, it unleashes a whole new level of flexibility, autonomy and accountability. In other words, project management software works for these PSOs by helping them achieve human capital alignment, rather than works against them by counter-productively avoid it.
Discover why leading PSOs around the world trust Clarizen to help leverage flexibility, autonomy and accountability, so they can reach unprecedented levels of employee engagement, operational performance, and customer success. Learn more by taking a product tour today.