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Business services teams are more powerful when working together

Marketing and BD teams need to work closer with other business functions, says Susanne Pugsley.

The power of collaboration has long been recognised. In 1624, John Donne said “No man is an island alone of itself”. Yet in more recent post-war Europe, the word collaboration has had more negative connotations.

But now, thankfully, the word has regained its positive associations and its importance in the workplace.

Heidi Gartners seminal work ‘Smart Collaboration’ has shown professional services firms how they can better service clients by looking at their needs and bringing them the right service at the right time rather than the blunt instrument of ‘cross selling’.

But how do we at the business services end of a law or accountancy firm collaborate?

The sneering accusation of working in silos and failing to collaborate is often levelled at fee-earner teams, but that mirror should equally be raised to the supporting teams. If your IT, Finance, BD, Marketing, HR, Operations, Knowledge, Library, Risk and front of house services are not working collaboratively and in concert that can have a huge negative implication for a firm.

Understanding the client journey and the role everyone plays can bring financial savings, increase productivity and a boost to morale as well as mitigating risk.

Regular collaboration that brings in all teams creates a strong culture and a progressive approach to solution finding. For example, if the BD team doesn’t understand Risk, and Finance don’t understand the value of Knowledge things can rapidly turn adversarial and counterproductive.

A great start point is discussing the client lifecycle or journey and all the touchpoints upon it to truly understand where each service comes into play.

Professional services firms will have any number of projects at various stages of delivery, and those plans progress more smoothly when all parties see the impact on their areas and buy into priority mapping.

Clearly communicating the purpose, benefits, constraints and impacts on each area and regularly discussing improvements not just to technology but also communications and behaviours, creates a positive collaborative culture and plans will progress much faster.

Having worked alongside some excellent heads of functions I have been in awe of their insight and skills in their areas, but the truly impressive ones have been those who appreciate the bigger picture, the value of collaboration and appreciate where their remit slots into that picture. 

Practical, professional teamwork should be the mantra of all business services.

Susanne Pugsley has held business development leadership roles across law and accountancy firms. She is the founder of professional services consultancy firm PSBD. She can be reached by email: spugsley@psbd.co.uk.

Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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