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Industry Trends

Data: a resource that improve performance of Professional Services

9 min.

improve performance professional services

It is not new, the Professional services industry evolves on an ultra competitive ground. Companies must constantly reinvent themselves to remain competitive. Responding faster and better to customer expectations, being profitable, while reinforcing the commitment of their talents… these are the challenges that companies must embody every day. In this context, the notions of performance and data become challenges in their own right. And today, data represents the best lever to better understand market needs. It also allows you to optimize processes, make informed decisions, anticipate future developments, and therefore improve your efficiency.

A Forbes Insight study in 2022 found that 60% of companies consider data to be a strategic asset for their business. A substantial figure that tends to increase more and more. So yes, relying on data is essential, but you still need to have the keys to understand it, decipher it and use it wisely. To be effective and relevant, data must be integrated with the organization’s human and business issues. Let’s explore the different facets of performance and how this data can really contribute to it.

What is performance? 

We hear and read this term everywhere, but in concrete terms, what does it mean to be efficient? This simple question implies an answer that is a little less simple. In fact, a company’s performance can be evaluated according to different criteria, or rather three types of performance: operational, financial and economic. In the case of service and consulting companies, understanding these measures is essential to properly evaluate its effectiveness. An understanding that tends to make the best decisions for the proper development of its business.

Operational performance: measuring its effectiveness

This first brick measures the efficiency of a company’s actions and its ability to achieve its objectives. It focuses mainly on the processes operated internally, or rather the way they ensure the profitability of the services produced. For service companies, operational performance is measured by the level of quality and efficiency of the services provided to customers. Operational performance is also measured by productivity and resource utilization over a given period. In the context of intellectual services, this implies achieving margin and occupancy rate objectives. Simply put, the idea is to achieve optimal staffing quickly, accurately and profitably. In other words, finding the right profiles quickly while considering the financial aspects of the project.

Financial performance: towards sustainable profitability

Here, we are logically talking about financial indicators, such as turnover, margin – or the rate of profitability. Financial performance is illustrated by the company’s ability to maximize the value of its revenues and profits. This is fundamental because it expresses the good health of the organization and sets the tone for its financial sustainability. This type of performance also allows companies to invest in their growth, attract investors and maintain a high quality of service for their customers.

Economic performance: creating long-term value

This third performance brick measures the overall economic value created by the company. It takes into account its economic and social impacts on its environment; job creation, added value for customers, innovation capacity and market competitiveness. For a service company, economic performance reflects its ability to create long-term value for its customers and its internal resources. It also allows the company to strengthen its reputation and brand image, which is a real element of differentiation from the competition. Improving its economic performance thus implies betting more on team cohesion. This is a remedy for talent retention.

In short, operational, financial and economic performance are key indicators for evaluating a company’s growth. In synergy, these three measures offer a unique perspective on its overall performance. They help identify successes, risks and opportunities for improvement.

Understand data to use it better

Rely on data that makes sense

Now that we have delved into the notion of performance, let’s take a closer look at data. Data massification is no longer a myth, but a reality for most companies. It now concerns all sectors, all companies, all businesses, in short, it is everywhere and in infinite quantity. As for performance, the term “data” has become so commonplace in our language that we do not question its understanding. Whether it is qualitative or quantitative, it implies several levels of reading.

The rapid evolution of the market leads to an equally rapid evolution of data. This data is multiplying and becoming more and more complex to collect intelligently. Especially since a recruitment firm will not need the same data as a retail company to make its decisions. It is therefore essential to understand the nature, quality and reliability of your organization’s data. In fact, it will be used in a more meaningful way. Structured or unstructured, qualitative or quantitative, internal or external, each type of data has its own specificities. Organizations need to sort and judge the most relevant ones, before analyzing them to extract useful information.

Professional services: which data to use?

As a Professional services, data collection can include several levels of information: employee retention rate, skills and availability, training needs, but also occupancy rate, customer satisfaction, turnover or margin and revenue. All this data becomes a real knowledge base for the organization. But it is so dense, so abundant and so fluid that it is now impossible to manage it manually. Artificial intelligence now makes it possible to collect, analyze, use and track this data.

More than a lever, it is the key to capitalize on its data and improve performance of Professional Services. Today, service and consulting companies can no longer base their thinking and decisions on intuition alone. By shaping a data-driven corporate culture, employees will be encouraged to refine their strategies in full awareness of their business reality. Knowing your data becomes a new learning experience.

Measuring performance with data: vertical technology as the best answer

Vertical solution: ultra-specialization at the service of data

As mentioned above, the use of data now inevitably involves the integration of dedicated tools. Technology helps organizations collect, analyze and interpret data to improve business results and talent engagement. Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about verticality. Or, more concretely, how this type of SaaS software specifically addresses the challenges of service companies. And for good reason, the use of a vertical solution is becoming more and more common to measure performance through data. With this ultra-specialized approach, the specific needs of intellectual services companies are heard and met.

Leveraging data is a sustainable way to deploy talent. As a single source of truth, a vertical solution will exploit the relevant data typologies to understand its business. This is the first step to making it evolve positively. Within the same organization, the data can be shared with all business lines, continuously and in real time. This is a godsend for decision-makers, managers and employees who can better cooperate, act and direct their different strategies.

Dataify your core business to improve performance of Professional Services

This dataification strategy is essential to make performance a concrete and daily issue. It allows a precise and relevant analysis of data to respond faster and better to their specific needs, but also to those of their customers. But beyond data, it is the combination of data with technology and talent that contributes to improve performance of Professional services. Aligning human and business issues tends to create a virtuous circle towards growth. Solutions such as Whoz rely on project portfolio management to bring together talent data (skills, availability, TJM, location or aspirations) and business opportunities. Services and consulting companies have the opportunity to synchronize all of their strategic data. It is now centralized in one place from other systems.

Involving managers in performance: what does the Accenture study say?

A research work on performance and data

The close link between performance and data is of interest to many. The world-renowned consulting firm Accenture has conducted a study to explore this topic. One thing is clear: decision-makers, especially HR managers, are responsible for the growth and performance of the company. In its study, Accenture says that activating the power of data, technology and talent can drive profitability and revenue. But only 5 percent of companies are succeeding. Because of their skills and impact, HR managers today appear to be the most capable of unlocking this combination of growth and accelerating change.

Towards a new growth

Accenture’s idea is to be able to aim for a new growth, one that focuses on harnessing the potential of data, technology and people. Achieving this would allow organizations to increase their productivity by 11%. Accessing and understanding data is becoming an effective game changer. Having a pivotal role in the human experience of the company, HRDs are thus best placed to connect competence to business.

To lead, this persona must achieve the highest level of competency, of which six are essential: systems thinking, financial acumen, leadership, technology and data, strategic talent development, and business acumen. In addition to the combination of these skills, the HRD is 4 times more likely to have strong influential relationships, including with the CEO, CFO or COO. This cooperation ensures the construction of an engaging network committed to change beyond their organization. The resulting collaborations tend to create a competitive advantage.

Engaging and empowering decision makers: the key to improve performance of Professional Services?

To better recruit, retain and develop talent thanks to data, HRDs must now fully embody this ambition. The question then arises: how to engage and empower the HRD as a performance lever? Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, confirms: “You must consider your HRD as a business leader who is the engine of your growth and reinvention. And you need to empower them to pursue that mandate.”

Ultimately, data has become a crucial element to improve the performance of Professional services. Capitalizing on your data, by engaging your decision makers and employees in this transformation, remains the key. Better yet, it’s the only way to improve efficiency, productivity, profitability, while enhancing the employee experience.