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Five dimensions of professional services businesses

Consulting maturity

As you scale your practice from a small, barely-existing business to a thriving enterprise, you need to evaluate how your business performs so you know what to improve. 

There are five dimensions to a professional services business, and as your practice grows, they all need to mature at roughly the same time. The dimensions are:

  1. Client Management - How you sell, support, and expand client accounts.
  2. Delivery - The processes and approaches to how you bring your services to your client.
  3. Talent Management - Your approaches to finding, hiring, and developing talent.
  4. Operations - How you run your practice, including finance, HR, and facilities.
  5. Leadership - The way you make strategic and tactical decisions about your practice, and how you develop those skills on your team.

Maturing Client Management

When you’re starting out, client management is typically handled by you, the owner. You built engagements from your prior relationships, and eventually from referrals and marketing your business. As you grow, you operationalize these activities, initially for your delivery personnel and eventually for a dedicated sales team. Often it takes owners training their people before they even realize they had a process they followed; it’s another example of the adage, “you don’t know something until you’ve taught it to others."

Maturing Delivery

Since most small practices are started by people with sophisticated delivery skills, they often end up hiring people with similar backgrounds. To enable growth, you need to move beyond that practice to actively constructing procedures and how-tos for less experienced people to develop. Delivery personnel are often have a very strong point of view and can struggle to mature a process that matches (a) the demands of the market today; and (b) the skills and point of view of people newer to the field. 

Maturing Talent Management

Initially talent management involves hiring acquaintances and letting them develop themselves. At scale this process simply won’t work: as you add layers of management (with their own career objectives) you need to lay out a defined process for hiring, retaining, and growing your talent, both at the individual contributor level and up the ranks of management. 

Maturing Operations

Another area that matures “organically” (read: is hacked together one crisis at a time), maturing operations is a lot like hygiene: nobody notices until you stop. Getting a firm grasp of the financials and HR is critical, and having a repeatable, reliable process can help reduce unpleasant surprises. As your organization grows, consider investing in a Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool, which has standardized dashboards and processes baked right in. 

Maturing Leadership

Of all the maturation challenges, this one tends to be the hardest. Developing way the organization sets strategies, makes course corrections, and apportions authority down the org. chart requires a different skillset than does the others. This isn’t so much procedural as it is nurturing, guiding the process by which the other processes are grown. Growing leaders for succession planning is vital for long-term success. Consider engaging an expert in the field for help with this one. 

A consulting company conference roomReady to Elevate Your Business? Let's Talk!

Your professional services business is growing, and with growth comes the need for maturation across all dimensions of your practice: Client Management, Delivery, Talent Management, Operations, and Leadership. You've learned how these elements are crucial for scaling from a small venture to a thriving enterprise. But understanding these dimensions is just the first step. Implementing and maturing them effectively is where the real challenge lies.

Are you ready to move beyond ad-hoc, informal processes to intentional, strategic development? Do you want to ensure your business not only grows but thrives with well-defined practices and leadership?

I specialize in helping professional services and consulting companies mature, grow, and flourish. With my expertise, you can take your practice to the next level, ensuring long-term success and sustainability.

Don't wait for growth to overwhelm you. Take proactive steps today to shape the future of your business. Contact me now, and let's discuss how we can transform your practice into a model of efficiency and excellence.