The Best Professional Services Firms Leverage Integrated Technology, Collaborative Cultures

Terry Melnik, PSA Product Marketing Director, Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit

March 16, 2017

Many professional services(opens in new tab) organizations track key metrics such as net profit, billable utilization and more. The question is how those metrics stack up against peers and competitors in the industry at large.

The annual Professional Services Maturity Benchmark report(opens in new tab) provides some answers. Now in its 10th year, this definitive study by SPI Research, the leading independent technology services research firm, sheds light on a dynamic and growing industry facing changes and challenges.

For example, growth in both revenue and headcount dipped to new seven-year lows in 2016, according to SPI’s study, based on a survey of 416 PS firms employing more than 200,000 consultants. Employee attrition reached a 10-year high, while profitability dipped 8.4 percent.

On the other hand, 2016 saw improvements in other leading indicators. Revenue per consultant, project backlog, size of the sales pipeline and on-time delivery all moved in a positive direction.

“In the face of turbulence, the overall fundamentals of the professional services industry remain very strong with PSOs making tremendous strides in improving productivity,” SPI wrote in its report.

What’s particularly striking is the differential between the bulk of PSOs and the top 5 percent that make up SPI’s “best of the best” list of the 21 top performing services organizations. The chart below illustrates several key differences.


Best of the Best

All Others


Net profit (EBITDA)




YoY revenue growth




YoY headcount growth




Ave. revenue per project (K)




Ave. revenue per employee (K)




On-time delivery




Jeanne Urich, SPI Research Managing Director, said that one characteristic distinguishing top performers is an emphasis on building collaborative, employee-centric cultures. Another is the use of professional services automation (PSA) software, often integrated with ERP and CRM applications(opens in new tab).

“Top performing firms are more likely to have implemented a commercial [PSA] business application and much more likely to have integrated it with the core financial application,” the SPI study notes. “Likewise, top performing organizations are much more likely to have integrated their CRM and PSA applications to provide real-time visibility and collaboration between sales and service delivery.”

NetSuite Powers Top PS Performers

As in past years, a significant number of SPI’s “best-of-the-best” winners in the 2017 report rely on NetSuite to power operations. They’re among the more than 1,500 services organizations to use NetSuite Services Resource Planning(opens in new tab) (SRP), OpenAir PSA, ERP and/or CRM for more efficient and transparent services execution.

We extend our congratulations to these NetSuite customers named as 2017 “best-of-the-best” winners:

Aspect Software, a provider of contact center, self-service and workforce solutions.

Box, the leading enterprise content management and collaboration platform provider.

Centrify, a provider of identity management solutions across hybrid, cloud, mobile and on-premise environments.

Pariveda Solutions, a leading management consulting firm focused on performance improvement.

Integration among PSA, ERP and CRM delivers a distinct advantage(opens in new tab), SPI Research finds. In 2016, integrated PSA and ERP was in place at 84 percent of the “best-of-the-best” organizations, compared to 52 percent of all others, the SPI study found. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of top firms had integrated CRM and PSA, compared to 38 percent at others.

For an industry that lives and breathes numbers, SPI’s quantified metrics make clear that bottom-line competitive advantages await those PSOs that make integrated cloud technology a centerpiece of their business strategy.

Watch the Webinar: Success Tips: 2017 SPI PS Benchmark Survey Results featuring Jeanne Urich, SPI Research Managing Director and Kenneth Ewell, SVP of Professional Services at Aspect.

Additional Reading:

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.

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