Sebastian Hartmann

Managing Technology as a Revenue Driver in Services Firms

Managing Technology as a Revenue Driver in Services Firms

Technology is moving to the center of attention across professional and business services – and firms are spending more and more, not just absolutely but also relative to their revenue. If solely treated as a cost position, it becomes a race to the bottom. Instead, if considered a revenue driver and managed as an integral part of your firm’s P&L, technology paves the way for new business models, growth, and profitability.

Stay Calm and Steer Your Firm

Stay Calm and Steer Your Firm

In the light of the pandemic, an economic downturn, and an unparalleled technological upheaval across professional services, we urge firm leaders to take a careful look at their management reporting – and to invest in its maturity and future-readiness. It is, after all, one of the most essential tools for any leadership and management role.

Being Future-ready means being Cloud-ready for Professional Services Firms: 3 Key Actions

Being Future-ready means being Cloud-ready for Professional Services Firms: 3 Key Actions

As of today, it is quite unlikely that professional services firms will dial back on their technology investments – instead, we even see increasing technology investments in order to keep up with a faster evolving competitive landscape. Gartner predicts an annual growth of 5 to 15% for the technology spend of professional services firms – even factoring in the steadily decreasing unit costs for many technologies (e.g., storage, processing, etc.). As firms work through the selection, implementation and adoption of more and more systems and tools, it is obvious that there is barely a true alternative to a “cloud first” strategy.

Cost Levers along the Next Gen Value Chain of Professional Services

Cost Levers along the Next Gen Value Chain of Professional Services

The cost pressure is on for professional services. Shifting client demands, declining prices, new technologies, and an emerging set of fierce competitors are taking a toll on law, consulting, tax, and accounting firms. Especially in times of crisis, cash is king. Once the topline deteriorates, outlasting the competition requires superior cost management. COVID19 is surfacing which firms have successfully adjusted their business and operating models and will be able to cope with the harsher climate of a global recession – and the accelerated digital transformation of professional services. But what exactly are the cost levers when the game is no longer about utilization and hourly rates?

Spinning towards a New Reality for Professional Services

Spinning towards a New Reality for Professional Services

Something stirs underneath the surface of professional services. Last year, KPMG surveyed hundreds of leaders and managers across professional services firms globally on their use of technology and the signs for change. A significant 48% reported they expected major or radical change across their business and offered services within the next three years. A percentage that is incredibly telling for an industry with high growth and profitability, yet very little change to its traditional business model over previous decades. So, what is driving the change?

Managing for Outcome: Rethinking Value Chains in Professional Services

Managing for Outcome: Rethinking Value Chains in Professional Services

The pandemic may have put the final nails in the coffin of the „time & material“ model in legal, consulting, tax and accounting firms. But what are leaders, partners and managers focusing on when the game is not about „utilization“ and „billable hours“ anymore?

So, here is a framework to grasp and think through the management implications of the next generation value chain for professional services:

Designing for Client-Centricity: A Lens for Legal, Consulting, Accounting and Technology Services Firms

Designing for Client-Centricity: A Lens for Legal, Consulting, Accounting and Technology Services Firms

Facing the current challenges has unleashed innovative thinking, agile methods and more dynamic organizations in many professional services firms. But how to anchor this way of thinking permanently?

Infusing old ways of working and outdated services with technology will not do the trick. Collaboration tools may provide a pioneering bridge, but will fail to deliver sustainable value – unless engagement models are re-designed.

The Invisible Threat to “Traditional”​ Law Firms, Consultants and other Professional Services Firms

The Invisible Threat to “Traditional”​ Law Firms, Consultants and other Professional Services Firms

Is the next generation of competitors even visible to a traditional lawfirms or the providers of consulting, tax or accounting services?

Many established players seem to have a hard time recognizing the underlying shifts in the market, which can be observed upon closer inspection of demand and spend patterns of professional services‘ clients. Or in other words: They are invisible – unless firms truly listen to clients, tune into the technological change and embrace the emerging digital future and opportunities across the professions and beyond.

Best Practices for Virtual Design Thinking Workshops in Professional Services

Best Practices for Virtual Design Thinking Workshops in Professional Services

Professional Services Firms are currently facing questions such as:
– How to best solve our clients‘ issue in the COVID19 crisis?
– How can we deliver in virtual or fully digital setups?
– How to design or adapt solutions for the emerging recession?
– How to adapt our solution portfolio and firm for the new normal?

Tackling these challenging topics in virtual design thinking workshops is not just necessary and one of the only few options available at the moment – it may turn out to be surprisingly effective and efficient.

The Benefits of Virtual Design Thinking Workshops

The Benefits of Virtual Design Thinking Workshops

Professional Services, like everyone else, are forced to move quickly towards delivering their expertise virtually or even digitally in the face of the COVID19 crisis. For legal, consulting and other expert services, design thinking takes on a whole new meaning, in order to adapt services and solutions for clients – and to develop and design answers to unprecedented challenges.

However, Design Thinking has been mostly known for its playful, innovation and creativity fostering and immersive on-site workshop settings… until now. And like everything else, these workshops need to take place virtually now. But is this even possible?

The COVID-19 aftermath for Professional Services: Three Hypotheses

The COVID-19 aftermath for Professional Services: Three Hypotheses

As the world is bracing itself for the impact of #COVID19 on our nations, economies, companies as well as individuals and societies, #professionalservices firms (#legal, #consulting, #accounting) are both positively and negatively impacted at once.
While it is clearly necessary to deal with the serious short-term implications of this terrifying situation, it may also be strategically important to think through the mid- to long-term implications for professional services in general and individual firms in particular.
So, here are three first hypotheses regarding the #Corona aftermath:

Innovation Evidence: How to Keep the Innovation Engine Running in a Professional Services Firm

Innovation Evidence: How to Keep the Innovation Engine Running in a Professional Services Firm

For 2020 we expect the pace of Digital Transformation and client-centric innovation to increase a lot across ProfessionalServices, especially legal, consulting, accounting and marketing services.

Leaders and managers need to be able to prioritize innovation efforts strategically and demonstrate to their fellow partners the continued need for investment, the returns and the strategic progress within the specific environment and portfolio situation of their firm.

Recession Resilience Triangle for Professional Service Firms

Recession Resilience Triangle for Professional Service Firms

With the shorter and darker days of winter approaching, many indicators across industries, geographies and economies reflect growing uncertainty – and the threat of an economic downturn or even recession. So, we have asked ourselves: How will Professional Services as an industry be impacted and respond? Which Legal, Consulting, Accounting or Technology Services firms will suffer or decline … and which firms will thrive? Download our thinking right here:

Delivering Client-Issue Focused Solutions

Delivering Client-Issue Focused Solutions

A few months ago, I was interviewed by Ari for his podcast on „Reinventing Professionals“, which I can highly recommend. We discussed my role at KPMG, how law firm and corporate leaders can scale and grow their businesses in the current environment, ways that technology is challenging the business model of traditional professional services firms, and how professional services firms are evolving…

Procurement’s Awakening in Professional Services

Procurement’s Awakening in Professional Services

An unlikely new key player within ProfessionalServiceFirms is slowly crawling into the spotlight: Procurement.
This often immature function and role, which until today has mostly dwelled in the back-office, administrative shadows of knowledge-based firms, is evolving as cornerstone of strategy execution for lawfirms, consulting, accounting, or marketing service providers. Why? Well, read my article on this emerging topic.

Playing the Recession: Three Key Survival Moves for Professional Services

Playing the Recession: Three Key Survival Moves for Professional Services

Is your firm prepared for an economic downturn?

ProfessionalServices have largely flourished since the 2008/2009 recession. But how well Professional Services Firms will be able to continue to “score”, will depend on the degree of resilience within their revenue structures and their ability to grow and occupy new market space amidst an unfolding economic downturn.

Economic Downturn: The Catalyst for Disruptive Change in Professional Services?

Economic Downturn: The Catalyst for Disruptive Change in Professional Services?

The signs for a major economic downturn are clearly starting to show across several industries – and in professional services. Structural short-falls that have so far been covered by a thriving economy are now being revealed. This recession may hence become the catalyst of the long foreseen true “disruption” to lawyers, consultants, accountants and tax advisors.

Stop Chasing Clients – Start Chasing Data​: Rethinking B2B Sales Analytics in Professional Services

Stop Chasing Clients – Start Chasing Data​: Rethinking B2B Sales Analytics in Professional Services

Some B2B sales questions which your firm should be able to answer right now:
– Clients, who buy “service (or product) A”​, also typically buy what?
– What is the next likely “challenge”​ or “issue”​ for any given client?
– What is the next likely offer (service / product) for any given client?
– Which patterns across the firm’s service or product portfolio are emerging?
– Which client or service segments show untapped potential?
– …
Unlocking effective B2B sales analytics is still a challenge for many knowledge-based firms, like lawfirms, consulting, marketing or even technology service providers. Find some guidance in this article written together with my colleague, Simone Göltl.

Can Old Dogs still learn New Tricks? Towards the Next Gen Playbook for Managing Professional Services

Can Old Dogs still learn New Tricks? Towards the Next Gen Playbook for Managing Professional Services

The inherited recipes for growth and profitability are eroding as the input-oriented models of traditionally fuzzy knowledge-based services are being replaced by throughput- or output-based compensation for much more client focused and increasingly digital solutions. Leaders and managers in charge of professional service firms need to adjust their management playbook in order to remain relevant in the next generation of professional services. But where to begin?

Next Generation Rainmakers in Professional Service Firms: Solution Managers (aka Product Managers)

Next Generation Rainmakers in Professional Service Firms: Solution Managers (aka Product Managers)

While the term „product management” may still sound foreign and incompatible with the fuzzy and often ill-defined (lovingly called “bespoke”) professional service business, its essence is already emerging in many forms, roles and organizational setups. Embracing the role of solution managers consciously and adjusting the organization surrounding them must be a key workstream within the digital transformation journey of any professional service firm today.

The Data Race towards Next Gen Professional Services is on …

The Data Race towards Next Gen Professional Services is on …

We see professional services clearly pushing into „everything-as-a-service“ and generally much more „digital“ approaches to delivering their expertise and value. This has created a renewed and even greater appetite for data than ever before – and not just their clients‘ data, but their very own data: But herein lies the challenge for them…

Next Generation Career Paths in Professional Service Firms

Next Generation Career Paths in Professional Service Firms

In order to thrive as a next generation PSF, leaders and managers need to acknowledge the need to hire, grow and retain top talent outside of traditional career paths – offering alternatives to contribute to a firm‘s success, to shape its path and drive its future.