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Position your Consulting Firm for Profitable Growth

A Path to Visibility, Control and Insight

This research points out that the highest growth sectors within consulting are healthcare and energy/resources. The best services play, due to the increase in customer focus, is on marketing & selling, followed closely by the continuous strong demand for operational improvement.

Is Your Firm Ready? With the consulting market experiencing such exceptional growth, is your firm positioned to take advantage of new markets or changes in your service portfolio? More importantly, can the systems you have in place right now give your firm the insight it needs to make the right decisions that will lead your firm to success and profitable growth?

Fill the form below to download this Ebook to Learn More

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If your Business is built on Spreadsheets, you need to read this

How you know it’s time to trade in your spreadsheets for a project-based ERP business system to maximize productivity and profits.

Spreadsheets aren’t working any more But there comes a point where every business outgrows spreadsheets. You can tell because:

Data collection becomes too difficult.

Files get too complex or unmanageable.

Sharing files and managing copies becomes a headache.

Limitations of spreadsheets decrease operational efficiency. But there is one positive from this problem – it means your business has become successful and is maturing rapidly.

Download below our Whitepaper to find out more.

 

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Webinar: How e-Learning is stimulating Productivity

Register below to Watch Webinar

We are all aware that there are many benefits to an organization in offering learning opportunities to their employees.  Employees are more highly engaged, retention rates are higher, customers experience greater levels of service, job satisfaction is improved and there are positive effects on key business outcomes.

However, have you ever thought about the impact on productivity?  How do the benefits differ for the learner and the company?  Are there any real differences between classroom learning and e-Learning?  Where is the training budget going and are we getting the best ROI?

During this webinar, discover how to better capture your audience and effectively deliver your content to achieve the desired impact on overall productivity.  Learn about the shifting trends in the industry, what learners are now seeking in learning opportunities, and what is driving these changes.

Join us as Kathryn Gordon, Silversoft’s Sales Manager explore the topic of productivity and e-Learning.

Watch the Webinar Recording below

The 2016 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark Report

The Professional Services Industry Could Be in for a Rough Ride Are you prepared?

While revenues were up last year, the Professional Services marketplace is in for a rough ride in 2016 according to the 2016 PS Maturity™ Benchmark Report from Service Performance Insights (SPI). We want you to be prepared to prosper in potentially turbulent times.

Information – along with a deep understanding of the dynamics of your industry – is now a more competitive weapon than ever. That’s why Deltek is proud to continue its ongoing relationship with SPI and sponsor this year’s benchmark report that features over 200 KPIs across critical business functions including business development, resource utilization, talent management and finance.

Here are some interesting observations from the 2016 report:

 Top priorities for 2016 must address the significant decline in leading indicators of future success – revenue from new clients, size of the sales pipeline, backlog, and bid-to-win ratios.

 Firms must also focus on efficiently delivering high-quality services and minimizing non-billable resources.

 Leaders must address dramatically rising employee attrition rates. This is a big issue as it costs in excess of $150,000 to replace valuable talent.

 And finally, with new client revenue the lowest level in 9 years, organizations need to focus on expanding markets, winning new clients and offering more services to ensure future revenue growth.

Also within the report, Dave Hofferberth, one of its principal authors, states, “Lack of an effective information infrastructure within professional services organizations is no longer an option!” As a consulting professional, you know that seamless integration between information systems, metrics and analytics is critical to taking the guesswork out of how your firm is performing at any given time.

Deltek has delivered solutions that deliver visibility and control to thousands of professional services firms around the world. I encourage you to read the full report and benchmark your business to determine where you excel and where you fall short compared to firms of a similar size.

If you have any questions about the information in the report or want to discuss Deltek’s full suite of solutions purpose-built for professional services firms, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We wish you the best as you navigate the marketplace in 2016 and beyond!

Complete the form below to download the report

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Now is the Time to Back Talent

Recruiting and retaining talented staff is key to business success, but can be seen as a short-term distraction rather than long-term necessity.

The oil industry knows better than most the importance of operational efficiency as it struggles to manage the impact of a ten-year low in crude oil prices. It is a sector with executive boards that know the importance of investing in new blood to help grow the talent pools required to plug skills gaps being created by increasing numbers of employees approaching retirement. But not all sectors face such desperate measures.

In fact, the drive for operational efficiency, or future survival as in the case of many oil companies, need not be at the price of talent. However, many executive directors fail to engage in the talent management debate, let alone agree with this conjecture. Christopher Johnson, European and Pacific region business leader for talent at Mercer, believes that part of the cause of many executive directors’ disengagement in the talent debate is because of a failure by their management to explain the skills required to help grow the business.

This, he suggests, is due to the difficulty involved in presenting a clear story about the underlying employee issues at play around, for example, career development, gender and age diversity, and succession planning. “Where boards are failing is in recognising in the broader workforce those huge talent issues they should be facing up to,” he says. “For example, the ageing workforce is a big issue, and some organisations aren’t thinking beyond this to the fact that they’re getting a more complex workforce with a broader age range and employees staying on in work.” But how does management present to a board member a simple dashboard of data?

Human resource functions can prove instrumental in engaging executive board members in the talent management debate, persuading them of the importance of prioritising talent and, crucially, helping them to view it as a long-term investment rather than a short-term cost.

But this requires good-quality analysis of workforce demographics by human resource staff equipped with the appropriate analytical skill sets. “It’s about them providing good-quality and clean data, presented quickly in a way that allows boards to have confidence that things in the business are fine or to recognise that things need to change,” says Mr Johnson.

‘The credibility of the human resource function is the first major barrier businesses must overcome to enable talent management to become a future boardroom agenda item of importance.’

Uninterested and unengaged executives can equate to uninterested and unengaged employees. Employers may suffer employee presenteeism, whereby staff attend work but are unproductive while there. Worse still, errors may be made, which could result in dissatisfied customers and even workplace accidents, with unfortunate injuries to employees, creating unnecessary costs for employers through lost business, sickness absence, medical bills and, potentially, litigation. Peter Reilly, principal associate at the Institute for Employment Studies, says: “Errors will vary from industry to industry, but truly disengaged and disaffected staff can do enormous damage to organisations.”

This is particularly the case when talented employees leave their organisation to join a competitor. Professor Maury Peiperl, director of Cranfield School of Management, believes the latter could prove a key catalyst for change in executives’ interest and engagement in the talent management debate. “The biggest catalyst for change would be organisations’ competition coming from small startups, from outside their usual frame of competitors, and executives starting to recognise there is no permanence in size,” he says. But Professor Peiperl also acknowledges the challenges present for executive boards across all industry sectors. “We’re increasingly looking at a workforce where people expect to be paid attention, rewarded and developed or they just aren’t interested,” he says. “At the same time, organisations have to stay in business and spend what little money they have staying afloat, so there’s a perennial tug of war between short-term and longterm issues.

This is why many human resource teams face an uphill battle in getting talent management on to their board agenda, particularly when it appears they deem the issue more important than most. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s latest HR Outlook Report, which polls organisations about their current and future business priorities, reveals that human resource staff are more concerned with talent management than non-human resource leaders, who are more preoccupied with increasing customer focus. The report also reveals that 76 per cent of human resource leaders agree that their current people strategy will help their organisation achieve its future priorities, compared with just 26 per cent of other business leaders.

So, perhaps the credibility of the human resource function is the first major barrier businesses must overcome to enable talent management to become a future boardroom agenda item of importance. This is likely to happen with the ever-changing nature of the human resource function, which is slowly evolving to become more commercial and strategic in its outlook. But executives also need to wake up to the fact that growth in market share will remain out of reach as long as they fail to implement and invest in a robust talent management programme, which engages and develops staff, enabling them to move the organisation forward.

Download below the Deltek Human Resources Clarity Report to know more

How to optimise your Law Firm for today’s changing times

Who makes the decisions in a company? Is it the CEO, middle management or the employees? The answer is actually none of the above, as it is the customers who decide ultimately.

By Maria Fernandez, Marketing at Silversoft South Africa

“Put your customers at the top, and it will permeate through the entire organisation,” proclaimed chairman of the board and management consultant, Jens Moberg, a guest speaker at a recent knowledge-sharing day for lawyers organised by Deltek.

And the customers are certainly the ones who have begun calling the shots at law firms as well, with more and more customers asking for flat-rate agreements instead of traditional hourly billing ‒ and to top it off, clients have also become less loyal and do not automatically use the same law firm every time they need to resolve a legal matter.

Customers, or ‘clients’ as they are known in the legal sector, are making greater demands for transparency. What does this mean for the business side of things? In this respect, it may be better to call them ‘customers’ instead of ‘clients’, as the knowledge-sharing day was all about how to move from a traditional client-orientated business to a modern, new business sales model – at the centre of which are the customers.

Greater demands from customers, heightened competition and pressure on margins all mean that law firms must learn how to deliver services differently, and this naturally affects the way in which the business is run. To summarise, we see four characteristics which are now separating the legal sector from others actors in the knowledge-based service industry, which includes the likes of consultancies and accounting firms:

Law firms seldom employ dedicated sales representatives

vs the rest of the knowledge-based service industry, where some actors are miles ahead when it comes to securing sales and keep up with the latest trends, such as social selling and inside sales

Law firms do not have a clearly defined sales process

vs. the rest of the knowledge-based service industry, where the sales process has been defined with sales filters, and, in the majority of cases, with clear processes that cover the entire spectrum, starting with the opportunity and finishing with contract being signed.

Law firms seldom have a well-founded CRM process

vs. the rest of the knowledge-based service industry, where actors have almost played a CRM volume game, with plenty of tracking and quantification of opportunities.

Law firms are among the best at maintaining and building on relationships with existing customers

vs. the rest of the knowledge-based service industry, where caring for existing customers is not always given top priority.

By taking a look at the knowledge-based service industry and finding inspiration in the way others do business, your law firm can find new ways to optimise business. We are convinced that the legal sector must embrace ‘the new normal’, i.e. start to run your business as others in knowledge-based services do. Here are four areas in which there are both risks and potential for optimising your business:

  1. Less customer loyalty means that you should:
    1. remain focused on existing customers
    2. while becoming more focused on new sales and marketing
  2. Increased competition means that you should:
    1. develop and implement an alternative business structure and professionalise staff functions, e.g. by appointing a CFO and an HR director
    2. develop additional and new price structures that match the customers’ needs and wishes
  3. New business models mean that you should:
    1. develop pre-packaged solutions that enable you to standardise assignments
    2. offer set-price agreements
  4. The New Normal, or adapting the legal sector to the rest of the knowledge-based service industry means that you should:
    1. change management structures
    2. change the business processes and implement KPIs
    3. implement product development

The challenges are many. A number of law firms are already well on their way to optimising their processes in relation to ‘the new normal’ to ensure that they can continue to grow. This is not something that can be done overnight, and it is not an easy process, as evidenced by the large turn-out at our knowledge-sharing day, where some of the largest and most successful law firms in Denmark shared experiences of turning around their business perspective. And, as Jens Moberg said, the time has come for the customer to decide, not the CEO. Even if the customer is a client.

Download below The New Normal in the legal sector Whitepaper to know more

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Strategic Recruiting: Hiring Talent for the Long Haul. Download Case Study below

Hire the best Talent: Hire people in line with the company’s values and direction, not just any warm body.

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In our previous blog post, “What Can You Do in the War for Talent,” Judy Fort discussed what the job market currently looks like, and how companies are struggling to find and retain the right talent for their organizations. In this blog, I want to go a little deeper into what it actually means to find the RIGHT talent.
Sure, there are plenty of talented people in the workforce, and all of them are evaluating their different options just as much as you are evaluating them. But the truth of the matter is, too often companies fall into the mindset that it’s better to just hire someone as soon as possible to fill an open requisition as long as they have the basic requirements needed.

Filling positions quickly can certainly make the HR team look good, but if that person turns out to be a bad hire, that can become a very costly mistake. According to one staffing agency, “In the long run, it’s more difficult for the manager and team to accommodate a poor performer than it is to invest in recruiting quality candidates for job placement.”

So what steps should companies take to make sure they’re hiring the right person every time?

  1. Strategic Fit: First and foremost, organizations need to clearly define why they are hiring this person – in other words, where will this role fit into the organizational strategy and direction? Every role needs a purpose. Not only will this ensure that the employee filling the role is adding long-term value to the organization, but it will also ensure that the employee feels a sense of purpose every day they come to work.
  1. Cultural Fit: Secondly, the company should have clear tangible values and culture that each employee contributes to in some way. The reality is, that no matter how talented someone may be at what they do, they may not fit into their department, their team or the company as a whole, which would make them just as bad of a hire as someone without the proper skills. If they don’t feel like they belong, they will quickly become disengaged, and would probably end up leaving their role prematurely, putting you back at square one.
  1. Competency Fit: Last but not least, the most common fit that recruiters look for in candidates is in the experience and skills they have acquired that make them eligible for the position. This is the most obvious fit, but even here, companies can be too hasty in their decisions if a candidate has “most” of the requirements they are looking for. One of the easiest ways to mitigate this is to list out the position’s “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves”. That way if someone is missing one of the “must-haves”, they are automatically disqualified from the position.

So after going over each of the things recruiters have to watch out for when it comes to finding the right talent, there are, of course, ways to make the process simpler. Automating much of this process through a talent acquisition or recruiting technology can save a huge amount of time and stress. All too often, we come across companies that are so bogged down in manually sorting through resumes and “administrivia”, that they are unable to improve their process or become more strategic about who they are hiring.

Putting a technology in place to weed out unqualified candidates allows HR the time they need to report on which sources provide them with the best candidates, what types of qualities they find in top talent, and ultimately which candidates look the most promising for the future of the organization.

For more tips on finding top talent, and a real life success story, check out this case study from the City of Arvada.

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Develop Talent to Score Business Goals

When you hear the words “people are our greatest assets” it’s because nowadays they really are. Thankfully, in today’s competitive landscape, business leaders increasingly understand that organisational success has less to do with the things they make and much more to do with the people they have, and the strength of the relationships they are able to develop with clients. In no industry is this more pronounced than professional services where people and expertise are the values on offer.

But talent management – the process for making sure these well meant words are actually day-today reality – is so much more than simply recruiting the right people, retaining them, and giving them the skills and experience to succeed. These elements are critical, but we believe it’s how this is ingrained within all corners of the business that really matters.

Talent management can’t just live as a concept within the human resources department; it needs to be fully aligned to the operations and day-to-day service delivery in order for a firm and its people to prosper. For talent to truly feel engaged and listened to, there needs to be two-way conversations about what they want, where they’re deployed and how they can go to the next level. Not only must these conversations happen, they must be founded on data and so ingrained into a company’s culture it should no longer be something only HR does. So why doesn’t this always happen?

Talent management programmes can sometimes be knee-jerk. Programmes can be introduced because firms identify, say, a retention problem and think that a talent initiative will remedy it without fully appreciating how to unite it within their culture and operations. But a notional idea that talent must be the focus is only half the answer. Think about this: has the business really looked at why staff might be leaving? Maybe they’re simply not recruiting the right people. Maybe line managers are not diverting the right people into the right roles.

Maybe there are too few or too many badly timed conversations about upcoming opportunities within the project pipeline. Maybe highly skilled people are being assigned to low skilled projects. Maybe people don’t know where and what they will be working on one day to the next. It’s only when all parts of the organisation start asking these sorts of questions that silo mentalities are finally broken down. The antidote to this is talent management that takes the holistic view; talent management that is data-led and where the activities of people can be linked so they are bound up with the operational strategy of the business.

To apply a sporting analogy, think of this approach of using data to align operational and people goals as applying Opta Stats to your firm. But it is not about the metres run, number of assists or goals scored; it’s about projects completed, margins achieved, utilisation and client retention rates. Think
about what this intelligence can mean to the individual, team and organisation in terms of performance and development.

‘Talent management can’t just live as a concept within the human resources department; it needs to be fully aligned to the operations and day-today service delivery in order for a firm and its people to prosper’.

With margins under pressure, clients demanding more and competitors ready to pounce, the professional services industry needs to stay at the forefront of this transformation. Research from IDC shows that firms without a human capital management or talent programme see a dramatic decline in staff utilisation, project winrates and revenues. This reinforces that operational goals can’t be achieved without investment in your people and their development. To achieve this, talent needs to be championed right from the very top.

Evidence shows most employees want a say in how they can satisfy themselves as individuals, as well as the needs of the organisation. It’s
often assumed talent is peripatetic, always ready to up sticks and leave,
but actually employees mainly want to feel engaged. Staff today expect more dialogue about how their careers are going; they need to be given this reassurance. The once-a-year appraisal will soon be a thing of the past and already firms like Deloitte, and indeed Deltek, are dropping it in favour of more regular feedback discussions.

There’s no reason staff have to leave if organisations can align the wants and needs of both staff and the business. Employees and line managers simply need to be open with each other. When they are, we find both parties tend to
feel part of, and take ownership of, their own trajectories.

So what are the remaining barriers? It’s often said the way businesses have to organise themselves means true collaboration is difficult. But we disagree. Business structure is not a constraint in itself. Managers simply need to be able to uncover the right insights. When stakeholders receive the insight they need, they can act and make critical decisions.

‘Talent management is much less about organisational complexity, and much more about measuring key performance indicators, and then putting these into the context of your recruitment, retention and career development strategies’.

It’s clear talent is very much the issue of our time. While finding talent may not be any more important than it ever was, what is different is there is a shortage of good talent. What firms need to realise is that this good talent is often already within their ranks; it just needs to be developed to align to the future of the business and client needs.

People want purpose from their work; they want to know that what they are doing is adding value to their organisation. And they also want to know that in
doing so they are meeting their own personal needs for advancement and skills development. When organisations have strong alignment between their talent plans and their business operations, then they really do have the foundation to be best in class. A recent IDC survey found hiring and retaining talent was firms’ second-biggest priority at the moment. Yet, at the same time, IDC also found 60 per cent of organisations didn’t yet have a talent management system.

Organisations cannot have a coherent talent strategy without the systems and culture to facilitate it. And remember, systems aren’t just about IT. They help bring fact to the sometimes awkward conversations that managers need to have about talent. When people are mentally on board, you’ll soon see they’re physically on board too.

To know more, download the HR Clarity Report