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How to Choose the Right PSO

Blog Post
November 27, 2020

In today’s always-on, competitive business world, an increasing number of businesses outsource non-core processes to specialized experts, i.e., professional service organizations (PSOs).

PSOs offer customized, knowledge-based B2B services, such as project management, IT staffing and outsourcing, and major on-site installations. In addition to their subject matter expertise, often what PSOs offer is relief—you can let your PSO manage a particular project while you refocus on running your business.

But how do you find the right PSO partner to delegate responsibilities to?

4 Skills at Which Your PSO Should Excel

Evaluate a potential PSO project management partner based on these four criteria to help you decide if a vendor will be your perfect match.

1. Clear SLAs

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contractual arrangement specifying a service or set of services and the costs associated with them. When a client and a vendor agree to do business together, the SLA defines the parameters of the service, sets the expectations and agrees on costs. SLAs are key to working with a PSO because they clearly define expectations, statements of work and project plans explaining billable time and preparing invoicing on a timely and reliable basis.

Read more about SLAs in the blog post, 5 Reasons Why SLAs are Key to Project Delivery Services.

2. Effective resource management

Using effective PSA tools, PSOs will have no problem identifying required resources and tracking the availability of personnel by skill across regions or—even countries—depending on your project management needs.

Because resource demand will evolve throughout the lifecycle of your project, your PSO will anticipate these changing needs and be prepared to accommodate them. From annual planning to short-term projects, your PSO will project manage a wide range of talented experts with the right skills to complete your work even if the project scope changes. They will even cover training and obtaining proper certification for individual team members as needed.

3. Transparent communications

Finally, your PSO should be excellent at communicating with you about what’s happening. Your SLA will likely outline the mode and frequency of communications, but on top of that expectation, you should feel that you know what’s going on at all time.

The best PSOs have real-time visibility and accounting extended across departments and functions giving them a complete picture of operations at any given time. This way, quick, fact-based decisions can be made in response to changing conditions. Without real-time information, decisions can be subjective and reactive, hurting performance.

4. Efficient PSA tools

Traditionally, PSOs relied on spreadsheets to manage client projects, resources and utilization. Giant Excel documents with detailed formulas to access needs and compare them against revenues. Not only are Excel spreadsheets difficult to manage, edit and share they can be riddled with cascading errors. In fact, nearly 90% of spreadsheets contain errors that at best cause confusion, at worse, time and millions of dollars.

Professional service automation (PSA) tools, however, can easily scale to control data through software applications that manage multiple aspects a project’s lifecycle. PSAs mean spending less time tracking information and more time reviewing data and making smart decisions.

PSA tools can manage:

  • Accounting
  • Billing
  • Team collaboration
  • Deadline management
  • Document management
  • Resource management
  • Client portal interfacing

And one more…

In addition to the four core competencies listed above, you’ll want to ask the organization you plan to employ to manage your most important operations for references. Calling these references gives you the opportunity to ask your real-world questions to determine what their experience has been with the organization. You might ask:

  • How would you rate the communication you received from the PSO?
  • What challenges did you encounter during the initial phases of your partnership and how did the PSO work to overcome these?
  • How effective was it for you to outsource these tasks/project versus managing them with your own internal team?
  • What was the single most important outcome you planned and did this PSO help you achieve it?

In summary, PSOs can significantly benefit your business by providing support to your team or additional help when you tackle a one-time project. Work with a PSO that fits your organization and has the experience to provide you with the best experience possible.

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