The Life of the Professional Services Firm in 4 (Data Driven) Steps

The Life of the Professional Services Firm in 4 (Data Driven) Steps

Every professional services firm has their own lingo or methodology, but for the most part, they all go through similar steps in their business; Plan, Execute, Manage, and Optimize.

Each step is unique and brings its own set of challenges and opportunities.


During the Plan step, the professional services (PS) firm’s job is to identify, pursue (or not pursue) and hopefully close on business opportunities. Proposals must be created, manpower needs will be forecasted, and revenue predictions made. This is a tricky step for most firms and it is key to know your firm well and where your strengths lie. Do you have the right team who could do the job that you are bidding on? Would they even be available when you would need them? There are a lot of data points that need to go into the Plan step so that you are chasing the right opportunities.


The objective of the Execute phase is to perform the contracted tasks. That’s only a sentence long explanation, it can’t be that tough of a step, right? This is really where the rubber meets the road – when you are executing on your proposal, you aren’t just executing this project, you are setting the stage for future projects. During this step, the accumulation of data is key. You must capture time and expenses, review your client’s expectations and your contractual obligations, store documents (possibly for compliance reasons,) and issue invoices.


The Manage step should run in parallel to the Execute stage and is used closely with the Optimize stage. For the PS firm that is lacking automation tools, processes, or experience, this step is often skipped or done haphazardly. Traditional reports and spreadsheets are often not produced in real-time, so they make managing your project difficult. ‘Make time to manage’ should be the mantra of every PS firm.


The Optimize step goes hand-in-hand with the Manage step and involves the modification of plans. Accurately collected and monitored data will allow you to better manage the outcomes of your projects. Many firms fall short on this stage, and don’t do enough analysis which would give them a competitive edge on this and future engagements. Take the time to review and document all the data before you close the books.


Once you have taken a look at your own processes and data hurdles, if it seems like you have outgrown your current system, we’d love to hear from you to see how we might be able to help your business. You might also be interested in our White Paper, Effective use of PSA Software in Consulting Organizations.

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