Understanding Professional Services and Practicing the Seven Principles for Success
Updated: May 30, 2019
Professional services, one of the fastest growing sectors of the Australian economy, covers a broad group of companies and organizations whose products are skills and knowledge, not physical or tangible products.
In the IT industry, professional services typically differ from staff augmentation or the managed services model by the scope and duration of the projects they are involved in. Whereas critical and ongoing tasks such as server patching and maintenance backed by service level agreements (SLAs) are best served by utilising a managed services firm, and projects that require short-term resources can benefit from staff augmentation, professional services firms can take on an entire discrete project, end-to-end.
Professional services work exceptionally well if your firm does not have the talent or skills required to make the project successful in-house.
Groundbreaking author Shane Anastasi, in his 2014 book The Seven Principles of Professional Services, outlined what has become the standard orientation guide for professional services teams. Anastasi’s 20-year experience acrosst large organizations such as IBM, SingTel, and Salesforce, along with leading multiple startups gave him a unique perspective and insight on how professional services firms can lead their client organizations to success.
Principle 1: Adapt to your Environment
Professional service providers encounter a wide range of projects, each with its unique challenges and opportunities. Just as each client organization is unique, the service solutions will also need to be unique and tailored to fit the specific client’s needs rather than adopting a cookie cutter approach.
Principle 2: Always know what “Done” looks like
Before any agreements are finalized, the professional services consultant must be able to visualize and prescribe the end-result. This influences the scope of the project and also helps set the baseline. Doing so will encourage “big-picture” thinking that will help resolve any ambiguity around what’s in scope and what’s not.
Principle 3: Manage Expectations & Enforce Consequences
Clients may already have unrealistic expectations even at the start and may set aside time and effort at the expense of quality. Estimates must be realistic, and that gaps in expectations may occur. Still, the consequences of accepting unrealistic expectations must also be enforced.
Principle 4: Have Difficult Conversations Early
Any project will encounter challenging situations. The key is to address these proactively using logical, evidence based approaches that take into account key learnings, best practice and utilize tools and mediation techniques to manage through these situations as soon as possible rather than postponing which often results in only making the situation or its impact worse.
Principle 5: Think F.A.A.S.T for Quality
The principle of F.A.A.S.T. stands for Focused, Accountable, Attentive to Detail, Skilled and Trustworthy. The F.A.A.S.T. principle can be used real-time to measure if the service being provided to the clients adheres to the definition of quality that the team is working towards.
Principle 6: Participate in the Collective Wisdom
One of the firm’s most valuable assets is the Collective Wisdom, or the accumulated experience, of its team. Consultants who encounter issues can tap into this experience and learn about best practices that can help overcome current challenges.
Principle 7: Stay Engaged in your Career
Projects can be demanding, not just professionally, but also physically and emotionally. A consultant can avoid the “Burnout Cycle” by also having a clear idea of where they want their career to go. Talking through and involving their managers in the process goes a long way in avoiding any challenges.
Fusion Professionals has the expertise to help your business understand the advantages and disadvantages that outsourcing options such as using professional services, staff augmentation or managed services can bring. Contact us today and we’ll help your business analyse which approach will optimize your IT resources.