Saturday, June 22, 2002

Consultant, Manage Thyself - Part II. In my last entry I discussed Building Professional Services. This book, in my opinion, is the best starting point for anyone who is involved in establishing and managing technical services or starting a consulting company. PSA: Professional Services Automation by Rudolf Melik, et al is the second book you should read because of the way both books complement one another. Actually, one should follow the other because PSA: Professional Services Automation is about automating the professional services organization after it has been established.

In the past I gleaned information and techniques from books about managing professional services from the perspective of law firms and other industries - good information to be sure, but fell short of the realities of technical services.

What I like about this book is the complete look at professional service management, with an emphasis on both personnel and cost management. I especially like the way the authors show how to go beyond mere cost management to optimize revenue and profit. The information and strategies they provide reflect extensive experience and a strong focus on the business aspects of professional services. I also like the ties to customer relationship management and various types of services, and the PSA components. This first decomposes the components of professional services management (manual or automated) into the critical success factors, then reconnects them into a coherent whole.

Although this book is about automating professional services management, most of the information, especially part 2, can be used effectively without automation. Therein lies the main value of this book and the reason why I think it's simply the singlemost important book a professional services manager can have. In order to get the information collected between the covers of this book you'd have to purchase a pile of related books from other industries, and spend a significant amount of time reading articles and surfing the net. If you are a professional services manager you already know that you don't have time for that. If you're being placed in a professional services management position you need this book.

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