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How Healthy is Your Professional Services Organization?

Annual physicals and preventive care are common for individual health. It helps prevent diseases and treat issues before they metastasize. They provide peace of mind and an early warning system of trouble.

Leading professional services organizations also believe in health checks, and for the same reasons: To have a professional examine and validate how processes are performing, what behaviors are supportive of long-term healthy, and which show signs of potential trouble.

Vantage is often engaged by our clients to remediate a dispute, control damages, or fix a process that led to major delivery failures, scope creep, or deal loss. We often hear “if we had only known” or “why did it take an incident like this to wake us up?”

This doesn’t have to be you (and we hope it isn’t).

To avoid harboring hidden or nascent bad practices, we recommend putting in place regular health checks. They not only help identify issues early but also help firms determine where to allocate time and resources moving forward.

The exact form and content of a health check can differ depending on your needs, and it doesn’t have to be an onerous task. We know your time is valuable and can’t always afford an all-hands-on-deck examination.

For example, we run a short annual “partner pulse survey” for a technology services firm and their critical delivery enablement partner. They have had major disputes in the past that cost both sides millions of dollars, and since then have been committed to catching issues early — and we have. The pulse survey covers core success factors like strategy and leadership, structures and process, people and skills, and technology, but we keep the survey short and embed them naturally into their business review cycle.

Another example is with a decade-long client where we conduct a biennial “internal and market health check” analysis on whether their internal processes are effective and if their client teams perceive them as easy to work with — an important gauge of satisfaction and driver of retention. We discovered the firm was losing deals due to how cumbersome they were to work with. We helped them develop better ways of working for managing (and growing) their client relationships.

Whatever the health check’s focus, it should employ a 360-degree view, surveying both the internal and external landscape. And, it should include not only traditional financial and operational metrics (headcount, cost, number of issues, etc.) but also underlying perceptions, motivations, behavior, and culture that drive and sustain risks and issues. We find these latter human elements to be powerful leading indicators of success. It sounds intuitive, and yet we find them frequently eclipsed by more conventional and easier to gauge metrics.

We wish you both good personal and business health. Don’t forget to schedule those check-ups.

Visit our Professional Services page to learn more.