Our recommended approach to Kimble implementation for professional and IT services organisations should be of no surprise to our clients – after all, they are typically in the business of supporting their own clients through IT-enabled change!
But we have noticed several changes to the way our clients bring together translation of people, process & technology that suggests certain considerations are required to get maximum value from Professional Services Automation (PSA). Here are some lessons we, and our early customers’ have learnt.
Consultants are also people! We all know the statistics that demonstrate that poor consideration of change management is the most frequent reason why IT enabled change fails. We all know that where leaders fail to communicate a compelling vision for change, avoid engaging stakeholders and staff and economise on training that the projects are doomed. But we have noticed that at many Professional Services Organisations (PSOs) – even those with awesome reputations for change management – there is an assumption that their “brilliant, experienced staff will ‘get it’ without any effort”. We encourage our implementation clients to include the right level of change management into their plans: encouraging precise contributions from experienced consultants but avoiding distractions to their client-facing responsibilities. We have collateral ready that can be adapted to each organisation’s requirements and preferred approach to making change happen.
Your best qualified project manager is the worst choice! We have worked with some of the best known programme and project managers in the industry as they lead the key internal Kimble Implementation project. We discover in what great esteem they are held … because they are frequently demanded by clients and are unavailable to advance the Kimble project!
A little and often … When our clients’ clients run transformation projects, there is typically an emphasis on large, set piece workshops or presentations at key stages in the engagement. However for PSOs it is rare to be able to get the right audience in the room all at once and for a long period of time.
How we help
So at Felber, we have learnt the following lessons to support our PSO clients:-
We will start with a system ready to go. The chances are that we have already implemented at an organization similar to yours. This means that right from the start, we can configure Kimble in a way that will instantly support 80% of your processes. That means you spend less time reinventing the minutiae of expense policy enablement and more time making Kimble support your established competitive advantages and strengthening the aspects of your operation where you need to improve. Your people will find it easier to see what they like and what they don’t like if presented with a working model.
Projects should last 3 months. Any more and there is a loss of momentum, personnel change and early decisions are forgotten and reconsidered. Any less than three months means that there is not enough time for the business to consider all the opportunities for process and organisation improvement – there is not enough time to experiment with alternative approaches or to confer with the wider organisation. We are prepared to tailor our support …
Your project leader is probably an internal resource. Naturally your best project manager is one of your highest earning staff, and no doubt their opinion – at certain specific stages – will be valuable. But we think your regular coordinator should be someone who is either an experienced back office professional or is a client facing professional who has been unambiguously seconded to the Kimble project for the duration of the implementation. Our consultants, who are also experienced project managers, will support your leader who will also benefit from the advice and guidance of your senior staff and Partners.
A strong sustaining sponsor. Your most senior staff are always busy. In fact a common benefit from Kimble implementation is the ability to release your people to perform more value-adding services. But we find that our most successful implementation feature is sustaining sponsors who only attend key meetings, support their project managers and can make informed decisions on behalf of the business.
Avoid distractions – When two or more consultants are gathered together in the room to talk about practice management processes, they invariably recall unusual anecdotes and exceptional circumstances that illustrate issues from their previous experience. (Similar experience helped Kimble design the product in 2010 when they invited UK and US practice leaders to develop the initial designs for Kimble.) Nevertheless, there is a need to configure the systems to suit 80% of the practice and then to be selective in scoping how to manage the remaining 20% in terms of risk, cost and scope. We have developed a number of techniques to help our clients focus on the essential issues.
Help from the cloud. We recognise that most Professional Services Organisations (PSOs) can not devote regular and long periods of their professionals’ time. So we will typically plan a mixture of key workshop sessions along with shorter and more frequent video sessions that more easily fit alongside your people’s client commitments and work-life balance. We use cloud-based collaboration tools so that client staff who wish to complete their Kimble learning and decision making tasks at odd hours of the day are always looking at the most recent documents and can read and contribute to ongoing dialogues on configuration of the system.
“Professional Services is simply selling people for more than they cost! Isn’t it?”
See feedback on from clients on the benefits of Kimble implementation.