Top 5 Success Metrics for Professional Services Organizations

What are the 5 Key Success Metrics for Professional Services Companies?

Companies that provide financial services, advertising and marketing agencies, legal, and other consulting businesses, encounter many growth challenges. According to an article released by Sage Intacct, they also face additional obstacles to their success, including:

  • A shortage of talent due to baby-boomer retirement and fewer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) university graduates
  • Increased client demands and expectations for greater service value for their dollars
  • More complicated projects, which require resources that may be remotely scattered
  • Different billing structures which complicate invoicing and managing cash flow

Given this challenging environment, how can these organizations balance margin and profitability with delivering value to their clients? Below are the five most important financial metrics PSOs should use to track and improve financial performance according to SPI Research.

  1. Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant

Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant is a measure of a business’ total revenue divided by the number of billable consultants they employ. Understanding how much revenue each consultant is producing is a key indicator of financial success, but it must be assessed in relation to labor costs. Revenue per billable consultant should ideally equal one- to two-times the labor costs of employing each consultant.

Organizations with high annual revenue per billable consultant tend to do well because higher rates indicate better consultant productivity with respect to larger projects, more revenue in backlog, as well as more on-time and on-budget completions.


  1. Annual Revenue per Employee

Another core metric, Annual Revenue per Employee, is measured by dividing total revenue by the total number of both billable and non-billable employees. Similar to annual revenue per billable consultant, high annual revenue per employee is strongly correlated with profitability and efficiency. By measuring how much revenue each employee brings in relative to how much they cost, you can accurately determine the financial health of an organization.

While not everyone on staff can provide billable services, it is important to be aware of the risks of too many overhead costs in relation to revenue per employee.

  1. Billable Utilization

Employee utilization is defined by SPI Research on a 2,000 hour per year basis, and is calculated by dividing the total billable hours by 2,000. Utilization is central to accurately determining organizational profitability, as well as a key signal to expand or contract the workforce. By tracking work hours for billable employees, an organization can get a better picture of workforce productivity.

However, while utilization is consistently the most measured key performance indicator, it must be examined in conjunction with overall revenue and profit per person along with leading indicators like backlog and size of the sales pipeline to really make a difference.

  1. Project Overrun

Project overrun is the percentage above budgeted cost versus the actual cost of a project. This KPI is important because anytime a project goes over budget in either time or cost; it cuts directly into profitability. Whether a project goes over in either budget or allotted person-hours, it can limit future work and in many cases reveal internal efficiency or management issues, which also negatively impact bottom-line results. Project overruns are also detrimental to client satisfaction and even incoming sales opportunities.

  1. Project Margin

Project margin is the percentage of revenue which remains after paying for the direct costs of completing a project. Keeping project margins high is essential as it ultimately drives overall profits. Poor financial performance can often be directly correlated to low project margins, as organizations are no longer able to invest in future growth activities.

There are many more key metrics in addition to those above that govern professional services success. Does your current finance system provide these critical KPI’s? If you are struggling each month tom manage your business, maybe we should chat. Feel free to contact us.

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