6 Professional Services Trends Your Firm Should Be Acting On

Posted by Claire Hodgson on March 26, 2018

Professional Services Trends

As professional services companies face more challenges, the practical job of delivery has become harder. Project complexity has increased and cost overruns have become commonplace. Firms face skill shortages and a more complex regulatory environment. Overheads keep rising as margins are squeezed.

These challenges are creating uncertainty among decision makers, who face ever more pressure to deliver profitable growth. 51% of respondents say price pressure will be a top business development challenge over the next 12 months, while more than half (54%) of chief operating officers say providing “more value at the same cost” is a major concern.


Industry Report

Professional Services Trend Report 



The Top 6 Trends In The Professional Services Sector Today:

  1. Project complexity: 52% see project complexity as their number one challenge
  2. Protecting margins: 54% of COOs say providing more value at the same cost is one of the biggest challenges caused by changing client behavior 
  3. Regulatory risk: 91% of CEOs do not feel prepared for regulatory risk
  4. People planning: 53% of respondents don’t know if they need to hire or fire in 3-4 months from now and only 49% currently measure utilization 
  5. Balancing past, present and future: 58% spend hundreds of hours on producing reports, but 57% say their reports for important decisions come too late, while 53% say respondents note that their reports look backwards and offer limited insight to the future. 
  6. Emerging tech: 19% of CEOs wont be investing in emerging tech over the next 5 years (read why Head of Projects see this very differently.

Punting In The Dark

Professional services industry

To remain competitive firms needs better visibility, or “scope” of the risks ahead and yet many lack the foresight they need. Some two in five firms says they do not have a clear view of which projects and clients are profitable, and only 49% currently measure the percentage of time staff spend doing billable work.

As we set out in our latest report, Insight to Action, based on a survey of 700 decision makers in the professional services industry, providers can take simple steps to improve their positions. It is vital that they can see what kind of projects they are going to bring in, and when, how much they will cost to deliver and what resources should be deployed. For this reason they must implement systems to improve planning, communication and reporting across their businesses.

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Put The House In Order

professional services sector

Focusing resources appropriately is key to improving efficiency and project teams should introduce management strategies that reflect this. Project teams should embrace work plans, milestone management and progress monitoring to ensure jobs are delivered on time and to budget. They must implement the right data protection and compliance processes, to avoid the reputational and economic damage associated with breaches.

As providers struggle to attract and retain the talent they need, talent management must also be a priority. Professional services firms need digitally savvy millennial employees to remain relevant, and yet competition for these workers is fierce. As such firms must enhance their recruitment processes and make “digital” core to company culture.

Invest In Foresight

professional services challenges

Firms also need a 360 degree view of their pipelines to ensure they have the talent they need to deliver the business they have won. And yet according to our survey, 53% of respondents say they don’t know if they need to hire or fire in 3-4 months from now. Suppliers must invest in effective capacity planning systems and prime human resources departments to recruit responsively – anticipating who may be leaving, retiring or asked to leave.

As projects become more complex the rate of failure is increasing. As our report shows, obtaining the right foresight can be challenging but complacency is the bigger risk, leaving companies vulnerable in a tougher operating environment. Providers must be nimble, not reactive, if they are to overcome the challenges ahead.

In Insight to Action we look at the industry’s challenges in more detail and set out clear action points for firms and business leaders in the professional services industry looking to stand up to the challenges of today and those of tomorrow.


Industry Report

Professional Services Trend Report

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