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Industry Trends

Improve profitability Professional Services: 5 steps to successful reskilling

9 min.

improve profitability professional services

The evolution of technology and new work methods are disrupting jobs and skills. In a global survey conducted by McKinsey, 87% of executives say they are facing a skills shortage. And less than half of those surveyed have a clear idea of how to solve the problem. What is certain is that skills upgrading and continuous training are fundamental. Because behind the question of reskilling, there is a universal issue: improve profitability of Professional Services. Indeed, reskilling must allow for a better match between the supply and demand of skills. In other words, to be able to staff competent profiles as much as possible, to ensure the success of projects and thus build customer loyalty. Let’s take a closer look at the 5 essential steps.

5 steps to optimal reskilling to improve the profitability of Professional Services

Analyze supply and demand continuously

It goes without saying that in order to set up relevant training plans, it is first necessary to identify the gap between the skills required and those available internally. In other words, we need to analyze the supply of and demand for skills. This is a complex exercise given the speed at which the market is evolving. Fortunately, several solutions are available to managers and decision-makers to keep up with the times.

Invest time in peer-to-peer events

Managers can participate in peer-to-peer events, designed to share feedback and gain a better understanding of market changes and evolving customer expectations. The exchange of feedback from the field complements the research that managers can do on their own. For example, every year the Digital Planning and Performance Club organizes round-table discussions between managers and decision-makers of intellectual services companies. Bringing together professionals from Professional Services, consulting firms and engineering companies, this club facilitates the sharing of knowledge and best practices.

Commissioning an external expert to perform in-depth analyses

Supply and demand analysis is time consuming. Companies may need to hire outside experts to conduct accurate market research. By exploiting public data (e.g. job offers related to a sector of activity), an external service provider can provide a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the demand. In this respect, Whoz specifically accompanies intellectual services companies by providing them with rapid “Market Skills Analysis”. This is possible thanks to its AI expertise allowing the analysis in record time of job offers available on the net. The customer leaves with a complete report of the customer’s demand by type of skills, job, sector of activity…

Organize feedback sessions between managers and employees

To deepen its understanding of supply and demand, the company can organize regular sharing sessions between managers and employees. The objective is to compare the needs with the realities on the ground. Customers do not always express their needs in terms of skills precisely. Managers must be able to read between the lines and capitalize on their experience to staff the right skills. However, it can be enriching to get feedback from employees during or after their mission to assess the relevance of staffing choices and identify any gaps in skills. This regular temperature check also allows to understand the evolution of the customer’s expectations during the mission, and thus to readjust quickly.

Exploiting the potential of new technologies

If moments of exchange are fundamental to refine one’s knowledge and strengthen ties, it is not possible to process all the data using only the capacities… of the human brain! In fact, companies generate an extremely large volume of data about their business every day. This data can, and should, be used to analyze the state of the internal skills stock. Who has what skills? Are these skills current or obsolete? Managers must then rely on new technologies to collect and process the colossal volume of data generated every day. The objective is to benefit from real-time coverage of needs.

Build a “smart” training strategy for your Professional Services Organization

After analyzing the supply and demand, the company can build a relevant training strategy. To achieve this objective, it can co-construct it with the people concerned. It can also rely on the so-called fundamental skills. Finally, it can facilitate access to inspiring resources by forming partnerships with companies that innovate in training. Let’s look at these three elements again.

Co-building a training strategy

Which skills should be developed first? Should training be integrated into the consultants’ schedule? Should they be left to train independently? A bit of both? And if so, to what extent? What are the different learning modes? How to adapt the training to these different modes? How can we evaluate the acquisition of knowledge and its application? By bringing together all the stakeholders around these questions, the company is able to understand the issues in their entirety. When it comes to thinking about training, employees have as much legitimacy as managers and HR teams. Customers can also participate in the discussions, particularly on the priority to be given to the various skills to be developed. Moreover, involving the various stakeholders from the reflection phase makes it easier to get them to accept new rules.

Building on core competencies

Skills have different life spans. Some technical skills are only valid for a few months, due to the rapid evolution of technologies. Conversely, some soft or cognitive skills may be relevant for several years. It’s worth keeping this in mind when building a training strategy. McKinsey recently published a survey on core competencies. These skills are divided into 4 categories: “cognitive”, “interpersonal”, “self-leadership” and “digital”. These “competencies of the future” are long-lasting, and apply regardless of the sector of activity and the job.

Facilitate access to inspirational resources

Today, the ecosystem of startups that innovate in the field of human resources is abundant. The activity of the HR Lab, an association of HR innovation players, is a good example! This association was created to match supply and demand in HR innovation, including in the field of training. From innovative software publishers to in-house coaching, there are many solutions to offer inspiring and relevant training courses that are adapted to the challenges and constraints of client companies. Today, the HR Lab brings together nearly 300 HR startups and 80 major accounts. 

Make Professional Services consultants actors of their training

A few years ago, the CEO of AT&T said that employees had to learn online an average of 5 hours per week. With the pace of innovation increasing exponentially, skills (especially technical ones) have shorter and shorter life spans. Continuous training is therefore a major challenge. Employees are responsible for it, as are companies. There are at least 3 elements to take into account in order to make employees actors of their training: A few years ago, the CEO of AT&T stated that employees should train online for an average of 5 hours per week. With the pace of innovation increasing exponentially, skills (especially technical skills) have shorter and shorter life spans. Continuous training is therefore a major challenge. Employees are responsible for it, as are companies. There are at least 3 elements to take into account in order to make employees actors of their training:

  • Raising awareness of issues  
  • The time required for training 
  • Access to resources 

Set up awareness-raising activities on continuing education

This requires actions to raise awareness of the challenges of continuous training. Employability, performance, curiosity, creativity, empathy… The benefits of continuous training (including on subjects that are sometimes outside the scope of one’s job) are numerous! This is often just as beneficial for employees as it is for customers.

Give employees the time they need to learn

The company must give the necessary time to the employees to allow them to increase their skills. Training takes time, and this is not always compatible with the personal schedules of consultants. It’s easy to think of parents who, once back home, don’t always have the time and energy to train effectively. Providing time may mean scheduling weekly training time in the consultants’ schedules. It can also refer to company events, conducive to open-mindedness: conferences with experts, or meetings between employees… On this subject, Whoz is a solution that allows to identify the communities of expertise in-house. This helps consultants to identify the referents on whom they can rely on to increase their skills. It also has the advantage of reinforcing the links between collaborators and creating a feeling of belonging to the company.

Facilitating access to resources

Facilitating access to resources is essential to instilling a true culture of continuous learning. This requires clear and regular communication about the resources available to employees.

Rigorously monitor the increase in skills and customer satisfaction

HR teams and managers will need to rigorously collect data from employees and customers to assess knowledge acquisition, relevance, and application. This requires first identifying what exactly is being measured. Once the issues have been formulated, HR teams and managers can organize themselves to collect the data. This can be done through :

  • Focus groups with employees, customers and managers (quantitative data collection);
  • Internal surveys (quantitative and qualitative studies).

Listening to employees is fundamental to improving training programs and retaining talent. By exchanging their aspirations and feedback on training programs, the company is able to implement more relevant and motivating actions.

Use the data to readjust your aim at the right moment 

Once the data has been collected, the analysis can begin. It is best to centralize all the data to make it easier to retrieve and analyze. The analysis of rigorously collected data will allow for a more reliable understanding of the areas of improvement to be put in place. However, the more data a company generates, the more difficult it is to see it clearly without using new technologies. Collecting and processing data is extremely time-consuming. Today, there are innovative solutions whose calculation speed greatly facilitates the work of HR teams and managers. They can spend more time on high value-added tasks such as data analysis, employee support and improving training programs. Finally, new technologies enable real-time analysis. By automating and centralizing data, such solutions provide instantaneous information to HR teams and managers. This allows them to be much more reactive. 

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