Kantata Survey: Strategic Tech Choices Vital in Tackling Unique Professional Services Challenges
Kantata, the leading global supplier of purpose-built technology for professional services, today released the results of a new survey that explores the state of professional services organizations, the challenges they face, and the role of technology. The survey, fielded in partnership with S&P Global Market Intelligence, shows a significant gap between the critically important role of technology within professional services organizations and the ability of current tools used to provide the data needed by leadership teams to lead effectively.
The survey found that for 85% of professional services leaders, the applications and technologies they use extensively influence the quality of their day-to-day work experience. For 36%, it is the most critical factor, more important than company culture, colleagues, and compensation. But just 47% of respondents strongly believe their current tools provide the data and related insights that leadership, delivery, and finance teams need to make strategic decisions about how the organization can improve, underscoring the critical importance of making strategic technology choices.
"Many organizations are working in technology silos, which limits the valuable context and data-driven intelligence they can access," said Michael Speranza, CEO of Kantata. "This challenge has grown as the technology landscape has become more complex, creating constant friction that makes it difficult for professional services organizations to deliver consistently excellent outcomes to their clients. The key to addressing this friction and removing technology silos is adopting solutions that are specifically designed to align the teams and processes that drive the professional services lifecycle."
Professional Services Facing Compound Pressure
Amidst a backdrop of economic uncertainty, shifting customer needs, and workforce challenges, professional services organizations face significant pressures and seismic changes. Survey respondents reported that the biggest obstacles they face include adapting to more remote and asynchronous working (51%), pricing transparency and margin pressure (49%), challenges recruiting and retaining talent (46%), securing access to the contract workforce (44%), rapidly shifting client needs (36%) and volatile customer demand (33%).
In aggregate, these stressors point to the most significant functional transformation over the shortest time the professional srvices industry has experienced, and teams are under strain as they try to adjust to this change. A fifth of professional services leaders say that less than half of their projects are meeting budget, quality, and timeline goals, and under half (47%) report that more than 70% of their projects are meeting those goals. These challenges are further compounded, with less than half of survey respondents (42%) believing their organization's leadership understands the strain that delivery teams are under.
Pervasive Technology Challenges Create Growing Friction and Operational Dysfunction
The survey data shows that there is a clear desire among professional services teams to break down collaboration barriers (41%), manage resources better across project lifecycles (40%), and increase their agility and responsiveness to changes and scenarios based on data (39%). Yet, professional services leaders say technology challenges are the very things preventing them from achieving those goals.
Nearly all of the respondents (95%) struggle with some aspect of collaboration, with the number one collaboration challenge cited as not having a single source of truth when it comes to project and customer data. They cite siloed information (42%), security and compliance requirements that limit their apps' usefulness (35%), lack of clarity on how work progress relates to goals (31%), poor app user experiences (29%) and having to use too many apps (27%) as top challenges. Only about half (54%) know what to prioritize each day, creating growing friction that can aggregate into significant organizational dysfunction.
Managing Complex Project Lifecycles Requires the Right Technology
High-performing professional services teams want technology that allows them to make data-driven decisions with integrated information, visibility, and process maturity to ensure they can align internal stakeholders with customers across a complex project lifecycle.
It's not solely about project management. Having visibility into quote-to-cash financial management (52%), resource management features that enable team management across projects (48%), and business intelligence to examine which projects generate the most revenue and client satisfaction (48%) were cited as the top benefits professional services organizations sought from technology tools.
These capabilities mirrored the top challenges that respondents using collaborative work management (CWM) tools to manage professional services projects said they faced - examples of these tools include popular project management solutions like Monday.com, Smartsheet, Asana, and Wrike. These respondents cited difficulty integrating financial information into how projects are managed (59%), detailed resource management and capacity planning (58%), and lack of features specific to how professional services teams work (56%) as among the top challenges using CWM tools in a professional services context.
"Many of these critical capabilities are hard to achieve with generic project management tools or a patchwork of niche applications, especially within larger professional services organizations," added Speranza. "Making the right technology choices has never been more important for professional service firms given the intense macroeconomic and digital transformation pressures shaping customer and employee expectations. Businesses that invest in technologies that provide industry-specific capabilities that provide more context, collaboration, and control for their users will come out ahead of the competition."
This report was commissioned by Kantata and written by S&P Global Market Intelligence. It references data from a survey conducted by S&P Global Market Intelligence in May and June 2023 of 213 individuals at director level or above working either in professional services firms (74%) or in professional services teams within other industries (26%), such as financial services or software firms, in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. A detailed breakdown of survey firmographics and respondent demographics can be found at the end of the report.
Kantata takes professional services automation to a new level, giving people-powered businesses the clarity, control, and confidence they need to optimize resource planning and elevate operational performance. Our purpose-built cloud software is helping over 2,000 professional services organizations in more than 100 countries focus and optimize their most important asset: their people. By leveraging the Kantata Professional Services Cloud, professionals gain access to the information and tools they need to win more business, ensure the right people are always available at the right time, and delight clients with project delivery and outcomes.