Expert Articles

Fostering the Career Development of Your PS Managers

by David Kloes, Vice President, Services, ePlus Technology, inc.

In professional services, your people are your product. Their skills, knowledge, and experience are what separate you and your company in the marketplace. Attracting talented people and retaining them are essential, and your managers play a pivotal role. They are instrumental in fostering employee engagement and guiding employee development. However, a survey conducted by Right Management in... Read more

How PS Self Service Can Lead To Employee Growth and Satisfaction

by Jodi Cicci, President & CEO, TOP Step Consulting, LLC

I was noticing the other day how much self-service has filtered into our everyday lives and started reflecting on how that has changed the Professional Services landscape.   Take a typical workday where I’m traveling to a customer site, managing the company needs, and addressing employee questions.   [[{"fid":"3099","view_mode":"media_original","fields":{"format":"... Read more

A Successful Deployment Begins with Creating a New Vision for the Customer

by Rick Furino, Global Program Executive, Microsoft

Companies initiate projects to move their business forward through innovation and adaptation.  The return on investment is typically based upon realizing objectives that cannot be obtained with their current solutions.  Technology and services are thereby sold by creating a new vision of what is possible.  However, realizing it requires that the new vision be sustained throughout... Read more

6 Steps for Leveraging Your Customer Success and Professional Services Teams to Drive Product Revenue

by Andrea Mulligan, CEO, Sophity LLC

We all know that SaaS has changed more than just the way software is developed and delivered to customers. SaaS has also fundamentally changed the way a software company’s success is evaluated and what customers expect from an ongoing support perspective.I was at the TSIA conference in San Diego the week of May 1, 2017, and I left with 2 primary take-aways (reinforcements of what I believed was... Read more

Brilliant Customer Experiences: 7 Things Your Customers Want, Expect & Deserve

by Jim Alexander, Founder, Alexander Consulting

The customer experience is the customer’s key player’s perception of a supplier’s performance, including activities that do not directly touch the key player but that affect her overall view of the supplier. Like customer success, customer experience is personal. Let’s start this conversation by looking at what you need to do to deliver on the seven things that your customers want, expect, and... Read more

Cyber Threat Prevention: How to Keep Your Services Organization From Being Hacked

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

Last year, I had the privilege of reviewing the results of a cyber security health check with the managing partners of a mid-sized management consulting firm based in Georgia. Like all consulting firms, they prided themselves in the trust that they earned from their clients during their projects. Their clients were referenceable, and their primary source of new customers was through referrals.... Read more

How to Build an "Experience" Library For Your PSO

by Jodi Cicci, President & CEO, TOP Step Consulting, LLC

It is said that Albert Einstein didn’t remember his own phone number.   When asked he replied “Never memorize something that you can look up.”   That was before the internet and Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any number of search engines.  We all rely on just jumping on a browser and searching for that bit of knowledge.  What is interesting is how often we do not retain... Read more

Simple Techniques for Transforming Customer Conflict into Collaboration

by Rick Furino, Global Program Executive, Microsoft

Life presents us with an array of pleasurable and enjoyable pursuits, activities and opportunities.  We typically describe our personal endeavors in these terms but if we are fortunate, we get to do things in our professional career that can be similarly described.  However, we are all too often faced with not so pleasant or enjoyable situations that at the end of the day are just part... Read more

Seven Ways to Fail Your First Consulting Interview

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

Each year, I interview dozens of candidates for consulting careers, and these recommendations should cover all first interviews with all consulting businesses. Committing one of these interview failures does not guarantee that a candidate will not advance to a second interview; however, candidates who commit multiple of these (particularly concurrently) likely won’t be asked back. Keep in mind... Read more

Scaling Services Teams to Last: Avoiding Brain Drain and the Consultant Burnout Cycle

by Shane Anastasi, Founder, PS Principles

Many years ago, hiring and retaining good talent was not my strength. My first attempt at building a services team was a disaster. Out of my first five hires, two of them were practically insane, one had to be removed for telling me that he wasn’t afraid to use the gun he had in his briefcase and the next two secretly embroiled themselves into a sordid affair that finally erupted into a bloody... Read more

Building the Brilliant Customer Success Team

by Jim Alexander, Founder, Alexander Consulting

In traditional organizations, services folks report to services functions, sellers report to a selling function, and marketers report to a marketing function. This often leads to specialization efficiency, it sometimes leads to specialization effectiveness, but it can lead to organization sub-optimization, as hardened silos with different objectives, metrics, and incentives compete for resources... Read more

Summary of Multigenerational Team Discussion from PSVillage Bay Area Breakfast

by Irene Lefton, VP Customer Success, Lastline

About 30 Services executives gathered in the Bay Area recently for the annual PSVillage Executive Breakfast.  The topic discussed was “The impact of multi-generational teams on Services Businesses”.  It was a very engaging discussion and I want to thank everyone who participated and especially PSVillage for organizing, and Shilpa Vora and Navel Gupta for taking notes during the meeting... Read more

Five Lessons Learned About Paying Consultants for Net Promoter Scores

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

Over two years ago, my organization implemented the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as part of individual consultant’s variable compensation packages. Variable compensation at Professional Services organizations (PSOs) is most commonly used to reward desired behaviors. Since the initial deployment of NPS, there are five lessons learned that are broadly applicable to other PSOs that are considering... Read more

The Art of Leading Globally

by Nash (Nenad) Simeunovic, VP, Services, Merit Solutions

Did you know that in Indonesia people point with their thumb as it’s considered very rude to point with a forefinger, while in Thailand it’s equally offensive to touch the top of another person’s head. Different cultures have very different customs and its differences like these that raise significant challenges for today’s companies operating in multiple cohesive markets. The picture to the... Read more

How Professional Services Can Impact Customer Renewals – Part One

by Irene Lefton, VP Customer Success, Lastline

Today’s software world has changed.  With the pervasiveness of the subscription model, companies have a focus on adoption, good customer experience and long term customer success.  Profit and revenue are measured over the customer lifetime instead of at the time of license sale or project implementation. Customers that don’t onboard effectively, and are not happy using the product are... Read more

Jumping from Fortune 500 Enterprise Consulting to Founding a Silicon Valley Startup

by John Serri, Co Founder, CTO/COO , EyeQue Corp

A career is a journey governed by one’s plans, efforts, and ambitions and by unexpected opportunities and mishaps. Recently, I found myself in an unexpected career changing situation; about a year ago two simultaneous events forced me to re-evaluate and drastically change my own journey.My employer, mid-sized Manhattan Software (~250 Employees), where I worked in a customer facing consultant-... Read more

Three Strategies for Reversing Negative Trends in Your Growing Professional Services Organization

by Chris Scalia, SVP, Professional Services , Mavenlink, Inc.

Three Strategies for Reversing Negative Trends in Your Growing Professional Services OrganizationIn the recent 2016 State of Professional Services Report, the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) revealed that professional service organizations (PSOs) are increasingly a driver of growth and success for their firms. Yet the report also reveals a surprising and simultaneous downward... Read more

Engage Your Stakeholders in a Way They Will Never Forget

by Rick Furino, Global Program Executive, Microsoft

Several years ago, I had just taken over leadership for a global services business.  During our first account review, it came to light that we were going to be late with a key deliverable for one of our largest customers.  The account manager asked: "what do we tell the customer?" My response was: "how about we tell them the truth"?  You could have heard a pin drop in that room for... Read more

Insights from a Services Leader - How Agile Reshaped My Management Philosophy

by Kevin Marion, Consultant - Program/Project Management, Aceso Interactive

Several years ago a company I worked for was changing their engineering processes from the Waterfall methodology to the new and buzzworthy Agile framework. I had never heard of Agile so I started to investigate what all the fuss was about. When I first read the Agile manifesto I was immediately intrigued.  Agile, if you are not familiar with it, is a framework for managing software... Read more

Brilliant Customer Success: Delivering on the Promise

by Jim Alexander, Founder, Alexander Consulting

Customer success is a sizzling hot topic in the business world. Lots of smart people in organizations all over the planet are pondering, defining, and testing customer success in an effort to figure it out. If you embrace customer success, it has impact (potentially really big impact) across all elements of your organization. But just what is it…what are the ramifications…how will it affect you... Read more

Building a Functional Service Development Lifecycle Process – the Gateway to Service Transformation

by Scott Monaghan, Sr. Director - Profesional Services (Americas), Avid Technology, Inc.

Professional Services organizations are continually challenged with the need to develop new capabilities while being tasked with packaging existing offerings for broader field and customer consumption. Capturing innovative ‘one-off’ solution IP may quickly differentiate your PS portfolio from your competitors and pure consultancies generally do this well. However, many product-based PS... Read more

How Professional Services impacts Customer Renewals - Part Two

by Irene Lefton, VP Customer Success, Lastline

As I discussed in my “part one” article a few months ago (, renewals are critical in today’s subscription economy.  It’s critical for Professional Services Leaders to contribute in new ways and one of those is to understand how PSO’s relate to the renewal.  At the time of customer acquisition you do that by defining your starting point, aligning with the new... Read more

Getting Your Project Team Ready to be Ready

by Rick Furino, Global Program Executive, Microsoft

It has been a long journey to finally get the project approved or the deal signed.  All that pent-up enthusiasm and energy can now be unleashed.  It is time to get started!  This rush to action is hard to resist, often fueled by executive expectations and commitments.  But what we should really be doing is "getting ready to be ready". Ready to collaborateReady to... Read more

SaaS Is Changing Your Role as a Services Leader - Are You Ready?

by Andrea Mulligan, CEO, Sophity LLC

It’s true … the majority of software deals are still traditional, perpetual license contracts. Year after year, though, a greater percent of software sales are coming from SaaS subscription deals.  According to an August 2015 article published by Gartner (and referenced in an article on Enterprise Tech, the enterprise software market is projected to be $200 billion by 2019, 50% of which will... Read more

Four Steps to Initiate a Customer-Centric Culture

by Beth Fulton, Vice President of Customer Success, Clarabridge

As we have entered the subscription economy, customers have tons of options, high expectations, and easy access to research and testimonials that help them determine the software, products and services they select. Product and vendor selection is determined by reputation, solution strength, and, of course, cost. While relationships will always play a part of selection, the wealth of feedback and... Read more

Using Email to Avoid Circular Firing Lines Between Customers and Consultants

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

"Why didn't you let us know the client was unhappy six weeks ago?"Those professional services engagements that stand out over the years - and come up as part of the performance reviews of individual consultants - are those gigs where either the project was revolutionary or where it went pear-shaped. All consultants who have worked with customers for at least a year have at least one story of when... Read more

Man vs. Machine: Consider the Human Factor When Automating Your PSO

by Jodi Cicci, President & CEO, TOP Step Consulting, LLC

It’s no small feat to run a Professional Services organization.  With so many moving parts, it can become difficult to stay on top of everything. How is my team keeping up with technology?  Are customers happy with their delivered solutions?  Are projects coming in on budget and schedule? Do I have enough staff to meet project demand?  Is the team compliant with policies and... Read more

How Does Your PSO Define Target Segments That Lead to Customer Satisfaction and Increased Revenue?

by Rohith Kori, Senior Director Services, Scientific Gaming

More than 50 years back Peter Ducker said “The customer rarely buys what the business think it sells him. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a ‘product’. What is paid for is satisfaction.” Dilbert captures the dilemma professional services organizations face in satisfying customers perfectly in the comic strip below. In the professional services world we are constantly... Read more

Maximizing the ROI from your SaaS Subscription

by Paul Feicht, Senior VP Global Customer Operations, GHX, Inc.

SaaS services are not new to healthcare, and they generally function flawlessly from a technical perspective when installed and configured properly.  However, ROI on these services varies considerably among similarly sized organizations due to the differing levels of process maturity across hospitals, distributers, and suppliers.  There is an opportunity for healthcare organizations to... Read more

Complacency Kills (Even the Most Successful PSOs)

by Mindy O'Toole, DVP / GM West Region, National Account Services, ADP

Complacency. My POV is that it’s the single biggest risk factor to success in organizations. Why? Every moment you are complacent, there is a competitor innovating in your space, taking your clients, taking your employees, chipping away at your brand.You don’t need an M.B.A. to get this – definitely not a concept that creates significant debate in boardrooms. The real question is how do you avoid... Read more

The Dark Art of Forecasting Consulting Income

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

It is very easy to report on consulting billings after a fiscal quarter has ended. Add up all the billable work, check if there were any acceptance criteria or milestone payments, and you have your number. However, unless you have a working crystal ball, the following question from your senior partner or CFO probably sends chills down your spine:“Hi! Can you give me an estimate of the consulting... Read more

Services Incentive Plans: Get This Right and You Will Kill It in 2016

by Chris Scalia, SVP, Professional Services , Mavenlink, Inc.

It’s Friday at 3 p.m. Your billable employee has just finished a project task. He logs his success. Now he has two hours to pass. He can either start the next project task, or he could just charge the extra two hours to the prior project task. It may seem inconsequential, but these are the decisions multiplied across your organization that impact profitability.So, what will he do? It depends on... Read more

How Well Do Your Consultants and Customers Understand the Statement of Work?

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

 “On Thursday, we’ll plan on deploying your software on our production four-way cluster and testing our disaster recovery failover. Our change window doesn’t start until six, so can we agree to start tomorrow afternoon around two?”  Years ago, I was working as a senior consultant with a client on a contract to deploy custom-developed software in their test lab. The project was... Read more

What Does Sales Really Want from Services?

by Randy Wonzer, Head of Customer Advocacy, Space-Time Insight, Inc.

Recently my role shifted from leading professional services at Space-Time Insight to leading customer advocacy. This new revenue role is focused on growing business in our expanding installed base and ensuring customers are getting value out of the software and services they’ve purchased from us.   The success measures of the revenue role versus the delivery role are different – revenue... Read more

The Best Kept Secret to a Project's Success

by Rick Furino, Global Program Executive, Microsoft

It is safe to say that effective communication is important to the success of any collective endeavor.  Information, ideas, concepts, etc. must be exchange and understood.  Project teams depend upon effective communication, activity alignment and a sense of joint accountability.  It is not an administrative exercise but rather the golden thread that links every project dimension... Read more

Lessons from the Trenches: How I Adapted to Manage Technology Services Teams

by Natasha Engan, Vice President, IBM

Information Technology leaders, especially in technology services roles –  BOTH suppliers and consumers – face very real business challenges resulting from a fundamental juxtaposition in the way that IT services are delivered;  enabled by new cloud, mobile, analytics capabilities in the market place.  As has been reported elsewhere, consumers of information services increasingly... Read more

Play Ball! 8 Ways to Cultivate Employee Loyalty

by David Kloes, Vice President, Services, ePlus Technology, inc.

Today’s business world is challenging. For companies to be successful, they must find ways to be more creative, innovative, and efficient. To do that, they rely on talent—both from inside their companies and from outside experts. Separating yourself from the competition in the professional services industry depends on your people. But simply attracting talented employees is not enough. You have... Read more

Does Your Prospect Have Trust Issues? How Your PSO Can Build Trust and Close the Deal

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

Several times a year, as part of the sales process, a prospect will send me an email like this:"Hi, We've had horrible experiences with professional services firms, and therefore we need to verify your experience before we feel comfortable working with you. We need a detailed resume, college transcript, and background check for each of your staff because we think you are going to resell our... Read more

A Better Way to Onboard New Employees

by Patrick James, Chief Operations Officer, Blackstone Technology Group

Often Professional Service Organizations (PSO) spend many hours and thousands of dollars before being able to call a new employee their “greatest corporate asset.” All too frequently, organizations stumble getting new employees integrated, productive and quickly billable within the organization.Key Approaches to Accelerate the Onboarding Learning CurveWhile the information presented here is meant... Read more

Drive Service Revenue by Identifying and Avoiding the No-Win Sale

by Jeff Green, President & Managing Director, Qmatic Corporation

Wouldn’t it be great to always have the perfect product and solutions for your clients when they want them?  In the world of ‘as a Service’, it has become increasingly challenging to manage costs as a delivery organization and meet the client (and sales) needs for the latest and greatest solutions. For example, how often do you find yourself providing free services to keep the customer happy... Read more

How HR Technology Systems Connect to the Hire-to-Retire Process

by Patrick James, Chief Operations Officer, Blackstone Technology Group

Professional Service Organizations (PSO) often refer to their employees as their biggest and greatest asset, however very few have a full perspective on how they are managing, or have managed, this asset during the  employee’s time with the company. Even more problematic is the lack of visibility into the entire workforce as an aggregate, plus ensuring the employees are aligned with the... Read more

Driving Greater Services Value in a "Connected" World

by Lori Ellsworth, GM, PSA Applications,

Does this sound familiar? You just received an email from the VP Sales congratulating the Sales team on a big win. Next, you hear that the customer is looking for a quick implementation with specialized requirements. For Services leaders this is an all too familiar scenario.  In order to deliver what the business needs, you need to focus both on the efficiencies of your services team and... Read more

Invaluable Lessons on Launching a Customer Success Organization

by Beth Fulton, Vice President of Customer Success, Clarabridge

In 2014 we established our Customer Success team to provide more focus and support for our current customers to ensure we lead them through the evolution of our product usage rather than relying on our customers to manage this progression on their own. After a year in existence we have taken a step back to review our lessons learned and adjust the approach to improve our team’s ability to support... Read more

Is Your Services Team Getting the Recognition it Deserves?

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

Several years ago, I worked as a senior consultant at an embedded Professional Services Organization (PSO). Our team developed business processes and technical solutions that saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. We received no recognition from executive management, and it took time and distance for me to understand how to avoid the same fate for my team.Each summer, the... Read more

The Key to Lowering Turnover in Your Services Team (Hint: It Doesn't Involve Perks)

by Christopher Kennedy, Vice President of Client Services, Periscope Holdings, Inc.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent as many nights on the road as you have at home over the past few months. You spend more time face-to-face with clients than you do with your coworkers and employees. And it is tiring.If that’s true for you as an executive, it is probably even more pronounced for your employees. Project managers, consultants, and other client service personnel have a tough job being... Read more

Considering Team Performance in Project-based Technical Consulting

by Cydney Berry, VP, Shared Services and Project Delivery, Mobiquity

As a Services leader, when was the last time you had a discussion about project team performance?  We talk a lot about project performance, delivery dates, project margins, timelines, hours, utilization, etc.  And, by measuring all of those things, we infer that team performance is a byproduct of project performance.  Project performance is our focus, and if all of our projects are... Read more

Why Behavioral Science is Key to Building More Effective Project Teams

by Jon Harris, SVP, LifeWorks & Strategic Alliances, Ceridian

Your sales team just closed “the deal” that everyone’s been talking about for months.  After the celebration is over, the reality sets in.  You’ve got to put together a project team to deliver the goods.  Your new customer has heard all about your methodology and your proven track record, you may have even been “hanging on” to a few high performers to put on the project. ... Read more

How Services & Customer Success Leaders Can Differentiate Their Company Through Thought Leadership

by Shauna Osborne, VP, Client Success, Innography, Inc.

“When your company put the Client Success organization and Client Success Manager (CSM) role in place you officially changed from an IT company to a REAL company.  None of your competitors have figured that out.”  A client expressed this to me in a recent phone call. Client focus has been our primary differentiator, and while we are happy to be leading in that area we must stay ahead of... Read more

In the Hot Seat: A Proven Strategy for Evaluating a Job Applicant's Presentation Skills

by Kayne McGladrey, Director, Information Security Services, Integral Partners, LLC

Years ago, I failed an interview so comprehensively that it profoundly influenced my approach to interviewing candidates as a hiring manager. This unique interview was not a formal personality test. It was not one of the popular open-ended math or logic questions, such as "why are manhole covers round?" It was not even a formal interview with a hiring manager, although he was in the room. It was... Read more

Transforming Roles - The Key to Achieving Project Success

by Rick Furino, Global Program Executive, Microsoft

The success of a business transformation project is often not dependent upon the technology.  It is most often about the right people with the right skills engaged in the right manner.  The technology usually works but it is how the people involved with the project engage with each other and their individual perception of their respective roles that makes all the difference. ... Read more

I've Landed a Customer; Now What? 4 Key Roles for Creating a Customer for Life

by James Willett, VP, Professional Services, Neustar, Inc.

Like most organizations, my company puts a significant focus on its customers. As we continue to evolve (organically or inorganically through acquisitions) and as the industries and markets we are actively in change, our vision and plans in how we interact with our customers also evolves.  The desire to create an out-of-this-world experience for the customer is brought back to earth by the... Read more

How Industry Benchmark Data Can Help PSO's Set Business Goals

by MOUNIR HILAL, Chief Customer Officer, Upland Software

The daily demands of running a large global professional services group within an even larger customer success organization at my company can make it difficult to stand back and plan for future growth. Fortunately, I have had the benefit of consulting with thousands of professional services organizations (PSO’s) for more than a decade and I have seen how important it is to set strategic goals and... Read more

Why Sales Proposals Fall Flat

by Michael McLaughlin, Principal, MindShare Consulting LLC

I don’t know about you, but writing sales proposals isn’t one of my favorite pastimes. It’s a necessary skill, though, especially if you want to stay in business.Here’s the thing. You can have a killer project concept that brings value, addresses the right issues, and has buy-off from your client. But unless you communicate that in a compelling and coherent way, you’ll probably lose the work.What... Read more

5 Key Tips for Successfully On-Boarding Customers in a SaaS Environment

by Mahesh Gidwani, VP Professional Services, Apptio

The success of any company is highly dependent on its ability to quickly and successfully on-board its customers. In my organization, we recently added an onboarding approach for an existing SaaS solution that on-boards customers in a much more efficient way.We accomplished this through an additional service package that enables us to scale to mid-tier customers while improving the overall... Read more

Implementing 5 Characteristics for Healthier Resource Capacity Planning Forecasting

by Alan Crean, Subject Matter Expert in PSA, PPM & Resource Management, Changepoint

The principles for healthy Resource Capacity Planning Forecasting are the same whether used by an internal IT group with a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) system or by a Professional Services Firm using Professional Services Automation (PSA). The key to successfully forecasting resources on a continual cycle in either environment is implementing healthy characteristics as well as the... Read more

Why Hiring For Past Demand Doesn’t Work

by Douglas Tilley, GM - PSA Applications,

How many of us are still taking a reactive approach to hiring?  Business is up, the team struggles to keep pace, and everyone is overworked. An exasperated VP of Services approves a beefed up hiring plan without second thought as the Sales Manager whispers in his ear that the services bottleneck is killing all their deals. But that’s not a whisper...more like a softened voice of total... Read more

Leverage Your Partner Community to Effectively Manage Supply and Demand

by Sean Norton, Vice President, Professional Services , Kofax

One of the toughest challenges faced by managers of a Professional Services Organization (PSO) is managing the balance of supply and demand.  This can be especially difficult for a services organization within a product software company, with “lumpy” demand tied to large (often quarterly driven) software deals. How do you ensure you can effectively react to customer demand for... Read more

The Top 7 Things Service Organizations Need to Understand in 2015

It’s easy to start a year by saying the upcoming period represents the start of a new era, a time of dramatic change, and to suggest organizational success or failure hinges on the decisions you make in the coming months.  Some years might be like that, but 2015 isn’t one of them.  Success in 2015 isn’t going to come from a single dramatic shift, rather it is going to be about evolving... Read more

The Seven Principles of Professional Services (A Game Plan for Winning the Consulting Super Bowl)

by Shane Anastasi, Founder, PS Principles

As the NFL season draws to a close, we are about to see how champion teams identify themselves in the run up to the Super Bowl. At such a high level of sporting professionalism it can be hard to identify large differences between the raw skills of the top teams. In a competition as highly skilled as the NFL, it will be the team that handles the pressure of the moment that will be victorious.That... Read more

A New Year Resolution for Customer Success

by Arjun Devgan, Director, Professional Services, NetSuite

As we usher in the new year, many of us are making resolutions to "get back in shape" by putting that new Fitbit to use, downloading a calorie counter app or going off the sauce for three months. But, it is also a great time to make some work-oriented New Year resolutions to get your professional life "back in shape". And, if you run a Customer Success or Professional Services group, you can... Read more