Expert Articles

Five Strategies for Improved Financial Maturity in Your PSO

by David Blumhorst, Vice President of Solutions and Services, Changepoint

When you are in a business that is growing like a weed, the energy always goes where it’s needed most. In a services organization, that time is typically spent selling to new customers, delivering on existing service commitments to clients, and recruiting talent. Automating and maturing business processes is too often viewed as a nice-to-have activity that the company will get to “... Read more

“Fight on the Same Side”-- and Other Ways to Cool Down Client Conflicts

by Marty Friedman, VP of Services, S3 Solutions

The best way to deal with a client conflict is to handle it quickly and cleanly. That way, a conflict doesn’t escalate into something big enough to cause trouble for you and your consulting project. I know. That all sounds good, but what do you do? The answer is: learn how to turn conflicts into problem-solving sessions, not arguments. Here are some general guidelines from our Power... Read more

8 Key Steps to Establishing a Customer Success Team

by Beth Fulton, Vice President of Customer Success, Clarabridge

Earlier this year, I was approached to establish a team devoted to tracking and managing retention and renewals from a Professional Services perspective. When this was originally pitched to me, I thought that I was going to be responsible for all the trouble accounts that were at risk, meaning that every day was going to be a battle and I would miss out on the post-contract signature afterglow... Read more

Customer Success: Leveraging CRM in a PSO to Create a Coordinated View of the Customer

by Nello Franco, SVP, Customer Success, Talend

Professional Services organizations have long been measured by the fundamental objectives of profitability, utilization, and services revenues. However, facilitating true customer success hinges more squarely upon how well a company understands the needs of its customers, sets achievable expectations around the delivery of those needs, and executes beyond those expectations. As our... Read more

Blending Product Management and Project Management to Deliver Better Software Development Outcomes

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

In most professional services delivery organizations, at least the ones that do project work, people and teams are trained to “manage projects”.  We bid on projects as distinct pieces of work that involve timelines, scope, budgets and resources. Then we tirelessly manage those projects focusing on dates, expectations management, change management, project margins, realized rates... Read more

The Evolving Relationship Between Professional Services and Customer Success

by Irene Lefton, VP Customer Success, Lastline

I’m interested in the evolving relationship between Professional Services (PS) and Customer Success (CS). A few years ago, there weren’t many CS organizations and now they are a stable part of most Software and SaaS companies. It’s clear that there is a need for a strong relationship with PS. You may have noticed that some PS Leaders have migrated into CS roles. There is an overlap in the skill... Read more

The Best Kept Services Secret: "You Are In Sales"

by Arjun Devgan, Director, Professional Services, NetSuite

I still remember my favorite line from one of the guest speakers at my company's last Practice Training Meeting. Addressing a crowd of a few hundred services professionals, the speaker started with the usual jibe about being thankful for not having sales people in the room, before more seriously adding "let me break it to you…you are in sales". He used the line to emphasize the opposite of what... Read more

A Professional Services Revenue Recognition Primer: What Every PS Leader Needs to Know

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

Anyone working in the professional services (PS) and consulting world understands how difficult it is to close a deal and successfully deliver on it. Countless hours (and dollars) go into finding prospects, educating them on the value you bring, instilling confidence and convincing them that you and your expertise can help them achieve their goals faster and more effectively than without you.... Read more

Analytics for Professional Services – Why You Should be Paying Attention

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

Analytics and Big Data Momentum is increasing Over the last 2 years, Analytics has taken the business world by storm, and it has become one of the most visible areas in technology transformation as evidenced in part by the growing amount of press and attention it receives. When I Googled the word analytics the other day it returned 166 Million results. There was a lot of talk last year that this... Read more

Project Management Across Cultures

by Andreas Knoefel, Technology Advisory Board, PSVillage

What happens after the contract is signed? Those of us who have worked across time zones know that it can be a herculean effort to bring all parties together into one harmonious whole. The following account of my experiences with teams from Japan, Russia, Germany and the U.S. depicts how cultural differences go beyond negotiations. However, recognizing these differences, and implementing a... Read more

Going Beyond PSA – Holistically Managing Multiple Service Lines

It is not uncommon for today’s services organization to oversee multiple lines of business within their organization. In an IT services, or embedded services organization within a software company for instance, a services leader may be responsible for the consulting practice, a field services team, customer support, education, training and in a SaaS-based business model – managed services... Read more

How to Stop Consulting for Free

by Michael McLaughlin, Principal, MindShare Consulting LLC

Here's an age-old problem for consultants: Trying to bring value to a sales conversation, you fall into "consulting mode" and start doing the project for free. When that happens, you want to kick yourself for using your precious time for unpaid consulting. The thing is, there's a thin line between what you need to do to sell your services and giving free advice. A few... Read more

PSA, PMO & Knowledgebases – 3 Things That Actually Go Together

by Brian Sommer, President, Vital Analysis

The recent 2014 Professional Services Industry Benchmark Report* was an interesting read. Interesting in that it showed a number of statistics pointing to a recovery in the economy and the services space. That alone is worth reading the report. But, equally interesting were the correlations between those professional services entities using a PSA (professional services automation) solution and... Read more

4 Ways to Succeed with Selling Professional Services

There’s no denying it: the world of selling professional services has changed. What worked just a decade ago is no longer producing the same results. At the same time, the Harvard Business Review has published articles titled “The End of Solution Sales” and “Selling is Not About Relationships.” As a professional services seller, solutions and relationships are... Read more

Two Things You Can Do Today to Build a Great Services Practice

by Arjun Devgan, Director, Professional Services, NetSuite

Part of being a great services leader is not forgetting what got you into the business in the first place. Salespeople are motivated by money. Services people are motivated by solving complex problems and building client relationships. I am not suggesting utilization targets and variable compensation are insignificant, but these are not primary motivators that make a services professional great.... Read more

Building Internal Relationships: How Would You Grade Your PSO?

by Tobias Kederer, Director, Professional Services , Benefitfocus

Instead of exploring one particular Professional Services topic in great detail, the objective of this discussion is to explore the general dynamics a successful PSO (Professional Services Organization) as part of an Enterprise Software company needs to be in tune with in order to be successful. One size doesn’t fit all, so if you are expecting a detailed step by step recipe on what to... Read more

7 Tips for Creating a 360 Degree View of Your Project Operations

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

I have asked myself the following question countless times over the last 20 years. Why is it still impossible to find an end-to-end PSA solution that meets the needs of the business, operations and, most significantly, the project managers? The reason why I place such a heavy emphasis on ease of use and functionality for project managers is that they are the ones that are the day-to-day shepherds... Read more

Do You Need To Be A Slave To Your Mobile Device?

by Irene Lefton, VP Customer Success, Lastline

Are you attached to the leash of your mobile phone and tablet? I know I am.  Is it your liberator or are you really a slave?  If you aren’t attached, then you probably aren’t making good use of current technology and may want to ask yourself why and see below for some things that might just benefit you. If you are like most of us these days, you've probably figured out... Read more

Agile vs Waterfall….and the winner is?

by Tom Minick, Managing Director, Catalyst Advisors

Agile software development, the topic du jour. Seems you can’t open a book (or magazine, or blog) without the topic popping off the page. But how many of you are using it. Be honest now. I suspect that the answer is not many. The question is why, or better put, why not! Let’s explore the topic a bit more. Agile is thought to speed up development, make things go faster and... Read more

Staffing Your PSO - The Pros and Cons of Just-in-Time Hiring

by John Pabon, VP of Professional Services, Computerized Facility Integration

For most PSO’s, the cost of talent is the biggest number in any P&L analysis. Even with the economy finally showing steady improvement, most Execs are still leery of overhiring.  They are looking instead for creative ways to get the work done.  One of these methods is Just-in-Time hiring.  JIT is the process of hiring after a financial commitment has been made by the... Read more

3 Ways Service Teams Should Adopt Millennial Thinking

by Rebecca Lombardo, Marketing Consultant, Manager, Vocus

Despite your feelings toward young, entitled employees, there are important insights Millennials can offer professional services teams that want to stay competitive and agile, no matter their size or industry. One need only look at the “agenda” of this age group and compare that to some of the biggest challenges facing services departments, including burn out, fitting a square peg... Read more

A Data Quality Handbook for Delivering Successful Professional Services Engagements

by Bruce McCormack, Principal Solution Architect, Informatica

This article contains an initial "data quality handbook" drawn from enterprise Data Integration (DI) engagements over the past decade - with input from recent events involving Big Data and Cloud solutions. It would be unfair to frame this as a methodology, instead it is a starting point to frame realistic PS data quality offerings.   Some trends in Data Integration fade... Read more

Best Practices for Integrating Professional Services Groups

by Dave Sorem, Director, Service Operations, NICE Systems

Recently I posed a question to the PSVillage Forums about best practices for integrating PS groups acquired through corporate M&A activity. A couple of years back several PSVillage members collaborated on an excellent do-diligence checklist for PS groups. But my question had more to do with what happens after the deal is done and you find yourself with a new team of people who have different... Read more

Reducing the Sales Cycle with Professional Services

by Sam Elbeck, Sr. Director of Business Development and Client Services , Globanet

My colleague, who runs our sales organization, always says “Sales keeps the lights on, mate” to which I always reply “….and delivery makes sure they stay on.” In most consulting organizations, sales and professional services (PS) are mutually dependent: PS needs a strong sales team in order to have engagements to deliver while a sales team is as good as the service... Read more

Establishing a Quality Culture within PSO's and Software Development Organizations

by Roger Nessier, Estuate, Inc., VP of Client Management

Trends such as cloud based software delivery and emphasis on uptime create even greater demands on software quality. Independent software vendors (ISVs) and software-enabled businesses must forego their usual pre-release quality control approaches and instill quality principles into every aspect of product development, from whiteboard to long term maintenance. Users no longer accept the trade off... Read more

4 Tenets for Building a Flexible, Efficient Services Management Framework

by Bruce McCormack, Principal Solution Architect, Informatica

More than ever, I encourage services partners to avoid “hard and fast” PS packages that leave the client with sudden surprises -- at very inopportune times.  A stronger approach for efficient, customer-driven PS is one where flexibility is “built in” to a PS solution package.  Part of that flexibility involves shared responsibility with the client from Day One.... Read more

Project Staffing Pitfalls and Solutions

by Jeff Wilhelm, , Head of Americas National Accounts Professional Services , ACI Worldwide

A word of caution to the idle reader:  I’m about to say something that no executive should put in writing.  I’m going to communicate what many in Professional Services know is the truth…..but don’t have the intestinal fortitude to publish.  I’m going to say what no CEO wants to hear.   But before I do that, I’m going to show how... Read more

5 Tips for Developing your PSO Team into Trusted Advisors

by Jan (Holman) Walsh, Director, Professional Services Application Development , Rocket Software

What does Professional Services (PS) do to contribute to the growth and future vision of a company – to add to the competitive edge? There’s more to the PS role than making our software hum for our clients, right? We’re aiming for a long-term relationship with the client and the consultant has a unique position at the table. The PS team within a software company prides... Read more

Offshore, Nearshore, Jersey Shore? How To Select The Right “Shore” Partners

by Uriah Hakala, Vice President, Advisory Services at Mavenlink, Mavenlink

While working for a smaller software company presents many challenges across the board, it also provides some advantages running a Professional Services organization. We face very little competition for our work and in general, minimal rate pressure, because the worldwide ecosystem of resources trained on our technology is almost non-existent. Having said that, when working with our customers to... Read more

5 Tactics to Overcome the Complexities of a Rapidly Growing PSO

by Larry Goldberg, Head of Enterprise Solutions, FinancialForce.com

A freelance solo consultant deals with very little complexity in his or her business. Every hour billed leads to revenue, so a consultant lucky enough to bill $200 an hour for 20 billable hours a week is bringing in $4,000 a week, or $200,000 a year, while still enjoying two weeks of hard-earned vacation. And the consultant gets to pass through all client-related expenses straight to the client.... Read more

6 Essentials to Achieve Rapid Results in a Complex Global PSA Implementation

by Steven Sexton, Founding Partner, serVelocity

Deploying a PSA solution in a multi-national, cross-functional environment can be very challenging, resource intensive, and risky.  For some organizations, these challenges and risks prevent them from undertaking the initiative and they don’t seize an opportunity to build greater global synergies, automate processes, and drive performance improvements.  Others may move forward by... Read more

Is Your Resume a ProServ Clone?

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

Have you looked at your resume lately? Here’s a tip: compare your resume to others in your profession. I recently read through 100+ resumes of services leaders: VP’s, Directors & Managers. With the exception of a handful, each looked like a clone of the other. They all claimed to be great in the same areas: people management, PS revenue management, customer management, building... Read more

Set Your Customer Up For Success!

by Claire Hernandez, Formerly Managing Director, Kronos

In a recent PSVillage article, "7 Keys to PS Value: A Client-Side Perspective" we got to see the professional services experience from the customer perspective, and how you, the provider, can align your tactics with the client’s needs.  This month we're going to stay on that topic, but from a slightly different perspective... Everyone knows the customer is always... Read more

Accelerating Service Time-to-Market

by Alan Randolph, Sr. Program Manager, Looker Data Sciences

Time-to-market is just as important for services as it is for products. This is especially true if the service eco-system needs to scale rapidly to support new product adoption. This article discusses how a dedicated Services Portfolio Management Role can dramatically increase product and service adoption rates. Symptoms of the need for services portfolio management: New product... Read more

Preparing for Professional Services Market Growth: Six Tips to Optimize Resources and Processes

by Tom Brennan, VP of Marketing, FinancialForce.com

The services economy is picking up and set to have a strong 2013. Surveys show that leading indicators in 2012 have grown, including annual revenue growth, size of deal pipeline, and percentage of revenue in backlog. In fact, many research organizations confirm that the services market has recovered from the 2008 downturn, while the current growth will continue. With growth, whether regional... Read more

7 Keys to PS Value: A Client-Side Perspective

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

Today, professional services teams must help clients do more with less—less staff, smaller budgets and fewer resources in general. The idea is to deliver the right expertise at the right time, so clients can meet their objectives while keeping headcount down, plus not pay for training or staff to handle occasional tasks. When all of this comes together, the client gets the best value. It... Read more

Selling Professional Services - Insights from Denver PSO Leaders

by Steve DeViney, Managing Director, Executive Business Advisors

I had the opportunity to co-chair the recent Denver PSVillage breakfast with Steve Rees a few weeks back. I've been to several of these in the past, and as is typical of our Denver group, we had quite a spirited discussion on the topic of Selling Professional Services.  While half of the group was newcomers - and the other half regulars - we had a very solid engagement by all with a lot... Read more

Protect Your PSO and Increase Your Services Margins

by Rula Kallas, VP of Client Services, Celigo, Inc.

We all know that a strong, solid foundation is critical to the sustainability of a building. Without it, no matter how fancy the paint and fixtures, its residents and guests will forever be walking on shaky ground. For a PSO, the equivalent of a foundation is its contracts. Even if you provide the best, most efficient services in your industry, you will not be able to get the most value from... Read more

The Emerging Impact of Big Data on PSOs

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

Big Data is more relevant to Professional Services Organizations than what many PSO leaders realize. An understanding of Big Data (and the closely related area of business analytics) is likely to become a must-have on a person’s resume, in the same way SaaS expertise has become essential. Why is it so? Firstly, look at how many enterprise vendors (software and hardware) are claiming a... Read more

PSVillage Annual Survey of Professional Services Sales Practices

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

We just completed an in-depth report on Selling Professional Services.  The report, PSVillage Annual Survey of Professional Services Sales Practices, is based on a survey of our members that was conducted in May this year. The survey asked members to identify their biggest challenges in selling Professional Services, as well as their solutions. We combined the survey results with... Read more

Reinventing Services for SaaS – 3 Things That Matter

by Laurie Jacobson Jones, CEO, Customer Zen

What first comes to mind when I consider Software as a Service is, naturally, the service. Creating exceptional quality for your customers means the difference between creating loyal clients, and customers seeking their solutions elsewhere. With a strong focus on service, your company can build those customer relationships, create an intimacy with your product and develop a loyal customer base... Read more

4 Leadership Skills That Define 'Servant Leadership'

by John Vancil, Director of Professional Services, Open Systems Technologies

Good leaders spend time thinking about being good leaders… and how to be great leaders. They think about what it means to be a leader, and especially in our world of professional services they ask themselves; how do I provide effective leadership to a group of highly motivated, self-directed, super-smart people? How do I infuse the idea of accountability and ownership throughout the... Read more

Professional Services Selling: Two Opposing Studies and Recommendations

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

I was fortunate to attend the DC and Boston Executive Breakfasts back-to-back this month. Matt Dixon, author of the Challenger Sale was guest speaker in DC. Mike Schultz,  author of Rainmaking Conversations was guest speaker at Boston. Both speakers were wonderful - informative,engaging, entertaining. Additionally, both authors are passionate about the topic, highly articulate, eloquent... Read more

Techniques for Developing a Project Management Post-Mortem Knowledge Base

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

History itself is full of stories where the same mistakes are made over and over again. Here is a classic example “Napoleon marched his French troops to invade Russia, almost all of his troops died from hypothermia, disease, and starvation. One hundred and twenty nine years later, Hitler did the exact same thing.” This article will not deal with marching armies across frozen lands... Read more

Are PSOs a Bellwether for the Economy?

by Terry Jansen, Founder, PSVillage

With the economy moving forward, PSOs across the country are experiencing surges in demand, and related growing pains in hiring services talent. We heard the story repeated at each of our 2012 Executive Breakfasts – PSOs were hiring but not fast enough. The opposite seems to happen too: PSOs lose steam before the media and analysts declare an economic slowdown. So does this mean that PSOs... Read more

Operational Excellence in Professional Services

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

Some time back, I was discussing with my former boss the impact product quality has on the software deployment methodology of my PSO. That's when I received an unexpected compliment: "You always expect things to have high quality". Obviously, that statement was delivered as a reality check and not intended as a compliment. Without telling you how the rest of the conversation went, I... Read more

7 Strategies for Managing Geographically-Dispersed Professional Services Teams

by MOUNIR HILAL, Chief Customer Officer, Upland Software

It seems like every organization is faced with this scenario and it differs greatly from how companies managed teams and resources 20 years ago. In today’s world of global professional services organizations project managers, resource managers, department managers, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CFOs, COOs, and everyone in between seem to be managing – at some time or another – resources who... Read more

Yahoo!, Services, and the Work-from-Home Dilemma

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

Can Services people successfully work from home?   I’ve been on both sides of the “work-from-home’ dilemma. I’ve hired folks who worked from home and I’ve worked from home myself. Given all this work-at-home experience, I can say with certainty, it’s a good thing I don’t work for Yahoo. In fairness to Yahoo’s leadership, they have... Read more

Why Are Professional Services Executives Reluctant to Network?

by Luanne Pirogowicz, Community Relations Manager, PSVillage

I talk to services executives almost every day, across the nation, men and women, in different industries. With all this diversity, many seem to have one thing in common that I would never expect: they are reluctant to network.  It is surprising to me because with few exceptions, they are outgoing, gracious, and so willing to help others. They have all the wonderful personality traits of... Read more

8 Steps for Adopting Lean Methods to Increase Your Professional Services Sales

by Deborah Hill, Consultant, Independent

Traditional Approaches to Increasing Services Sales We’ve all been there – suddenly demand for a previously popular service line declines – maybe it’s been awhile since the last software release or maybe your product sales team hasn’t attracted many new clients in that area. Whatever the reason you have people on the bench and P&L pain. Traditionally... Read more

Why is Professional Services Selling so Hard?

by Terry Jansen, Founder, PSVillage

Selling services can be hard. Really hard. How do I know? Well, over several years of asking for feedback, PSVillage members cite Selling Services as the number one area in which they need assistance.   What I’ve heard from members is that services selling is especially hard for PSOs within a product company, where the main focus of the marketing and sales functions are products... Read more

Six Key Activities for Successful In-house Software Deployment

by Steven Sexton, Founding Partner, serVelocity

Even for Services Organizations, transformational initiatives are simply challenging to deliver, no matter how large or small the organization. Driven by the pace of business and our “can do attitude”, Services Organizations within High Tech companies often lose sight of the significant role transformational investments play in enabling business strategy, improving process, and... Read more

How Much is Too Much Professional Services Revenue?

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

I was meeting with a bright services consultant this afternoon, both of us searching for meaningful ways to collaborate in the services space. We had lots in common: we're both experienced services execs, and are passionate about customer success. Something she said made me stop the discussion mid-sentence. She said that services organizations in product companies don't want to make too... Read more

Professional Services Innovation in PSOs

by Joe Longo, PSA Principal, NetSuite

This article is reprinted with permission from Financialforce.com   There’s never been a better time for services leaders to innovate through the adoption of technology. Not too long ago, services organizations were running on desktop documents and email, typically, MS Word, Excel and Outlook. Everything from project management, to time & expense reporting was done with... Read more

6 Key Performance Indicators for Professional Services Groups in Product Companies

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

Professional services teams that ply their trade in product companies face a built-in challenge: how do you prove value? If your business sells products as opposed to services—hardware, software, SaaS or cloud technologies, for example—your services are typically bolted on, not developed as core offerings, so you constantly need to make the business case for what you do and, more... Read more

What Professional Services Leaders Can Learn from the 2012 Presidential Elections

by Tom Minick, Managing Director, Catalyst Advisors

OK, by now everyone in America is probably pretty much over the Presidential election and the endless blog posts and punditry. I thought I was until I read a series of interesting, and very relevant to our profession, postings over the weekend after the election. Not only did I find the story interesting, but it prompted me to change the topic of my PS Pulse Article after turning to PSVillage for... Read more

How to Create Long-term (and profitable) Champion Client Relationships

by Michael McLaughlin, Principal, MindShare Consulting LLC

After you wrap up a project and move on, what lasting impression do you leave with clients? That you are brilliant? Ho-hum? Will you soon become a dim memory? Your future success with a client depends, naturally, on the quality of the results you help achieve. But the clients you worked with will write the history of those results after you’re gone. Do you want that history to reflect... Read more

5 Critical Success Factors for a Program Management Office

by Mark Sherman, VP Cloud Services, Oracle

Much has been written about program and project management best practice. However, the execution of best practices often does not include operational considerations and organization dynamics that sometimes can make or break the success of the best Project Management Office (PMO). Today’s corporate landscape is littered with failed high-visibility projects, unhappy executives and program... Read more

Analytics and Big Data – the Next Technology Wave to Hit Professional Services

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

The Next Wave of Innovation: Analytics and Big Data As solution oriented consultants we always need to be looking out for the next game coming to town. Over the last five years enterprise implementations have been driven by innovations in SaaS and Mobility technologies. The migration of enterprise SW to the cloud has had major, mostly positive, ramifications on implementation consulting. We... Read more

Survive and Thrive Selling Professional Services in a Software Company

by Don Sloan, Director of Professional Services, Adobe Systems

Is selling services in a software company the hardest job in the industry?  That’s what I’ve been told a few times in my career, and sometimes it has felt that way.  However, I’ve learned a few things in my 15+ years of selling that have helped me exceed quotas and keep my sanity (not always at the same time, admittedly), and I’d like to share them with you. In... Read more