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Professional Services Firms Must Foster People to Boost Profits Amid Economic Slowdown, Survey Reveals


Over 250 Professional Service Providers Polled; New Talent Development Initiatives to Counter Trend

ORLANDO, Fla. - Poor talent management represents a serious threat to U.S. professional services firms, according to a new survey by the Technology Professional Services Association (TPSA). In a poll of more than 250 professional service providers, 80 percent of respondents confirmed a lack of integrated IT infrastructure and strategic focus in managing their most critical assets: their people. With corporate resources under the threat of a looming economic slowdown, the survey suggests that talent management needs to become a top IT priority for professional service providers. The announcement was made at the SAP Insider HR 2008 event, being held in Orlando, Florida, March 10 to 13.

Commissioned by SAP America, the survey polled a broad mix of professional service providers ––including IT firms, law offices, tax advisors and strategy consultants –– on their talent management capabilities. The majority of these firms agreed that poor talent management is a considerable risk to revenue growth and customer satisfaction. Despite this awareness, these firms have made little investment to refine core processes and deploy enabling technology.

Key findings among professional services firms include:

* 75 percent report poor talent strategies increase risk to revenue and overall customer satisfaction
* 50 percent report top talent priorities lie in fundamental areas such as recruitment, succession planning, training and retention
* Only 20 percent of the firms polled are utilizing service performance to formulate talent strategies
* 78 percent describe their talent processes as standard or rudimentary
* 80 percent describe little to no integration of talent management, business development and resource management in their firms

“Talent strategies and processes have traditionally taken a back seat in the face of immediate business priorities,” said Thomas E. Lah, executive director, Technology Professional Services Association (TPSA). “In order for the professional services industry to grow, firms need to move talent management up the value chain. Only by extracting themselves from their rudimentary methods can they hope to avoid the quagmire they themselves see coming.”

Some companies have already taken steps to foster and maintain new talent. SAP itself is currently rolling out a talent development program in Latin America designed to augment its ecosystem of customers and service partners with 10,000 new certified IT consultants in 2008. SAP is already working with major universities, education centers and business partners to reach this goal. The program will open up a new career path to thousands of young IT professionals and provide SAP customers and partners with an available talent pool.

In addition to this initiative, the SAP University Alliances program is helping universities to develop the next generation of business and IT leaders. The program enables students at participating campuses to experience first-hand how organizations operate and how business software can help an organization become more efficient, productive and profitable. The SAP University Alliances program is a global initiative with nearly 800 member campuses around the world, approximately 150 of which are in the United States and Canada. More than 150,000 students gain first-hand experience with SAP software each year.

“We see this data as evidence that most services firms are maturing beyond simply managing capacity against the next big deal,” said Joel Capperella, industry principal, SAP Americas. “They are aware of their talent management inefficiencies and the desire to instigate change is high. We expect to see firms placing greater focus on and becoming more efficient in their management of skills, talent and people.”

SAP offers professional services firms a comprehensive portfolio of solutions to help identify and track promising candidates quickly, implement strategies to retain the best and brightest talent, improve ability to staff projects profitably and analyze demand data to better plan talent needs. For more information, visit:


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