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Project Management

The Top 10 KPIs Consulting Firms Should Track

Steven Burns, FAIA, guides you through the top KPIs for consulting firms including how to track each one and the right tools for the job.


If you’ve ever felt like your consulting firm is flying blind, you’re not alone. Without a way to measure your progress or understand your client's needs, it's hard to make informed decisions and deliver real value. That's where the magic of KPIs for consulting firms comes in.  

KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are the metrics that matter most to consulting firms. They help you measure your performance, identify areas for improvement, and stay focused on your goals. But if you don’t know the KPIs your consulting firm should track, reaching your goals isn’t going to be easy.   

In this article, we're going to explore together the top KPIs for consulting firms that should be tracked to achieve success.  I’ll explain what each KPI measures, why it's important, and how you can track and improve it.   

So, if you're ready to take your consulting firm to the next level, let's dive in and explore the world of KPIs!  

What are KPIs for Consulting Firms and Why are They Important? 

KPIs are like a GPS for consulting firms, helping them stay on track and reach their destination. Unlike traditional metrics that simply track performance, KPIs are designed to help businesses focus on the most important factors that drive success.   

KPIs for consulting firms are essential for measuring performance, identifying areas for improvement, and making data-driven decisions. By tracking KPIs, your firm can get a better understanding of how well you’re meeting client needs, how efficiently you’re using resources, and where you need to improve.   

KPIs can also help you stay competitive by providing insights into industry trends and best practices. So, in short, KPIs are the secret weapon that your consulting firm needs to stay ahead of the game.  

To monitor KPIs your firm is going to need software, like BQE CORE, that makes gathering the information easy and has the ability to convert the data into real-time metrics through helpful visualizations. Manually monitoring KPIs, or using outdated or even the wrong software, isn’t going to cut it. You’ll never get the full value.  

In addition, sophisticated software provides the business intelligence that helps you make the best decisions quickly.  

I’ll get into more detail about this topic later in this article.  

The Top KPIs Consulting Firms Should Track 

Alright, it's time for us to dive deeper into the top KPIs for consulting firms you should be tracking.   

Think of KPIs as your superheroes of metrics - each one has a specific power that helps you achieve your goals so they’re very valuable to get to know and have on your side.  

Top 10 KPIs for Consulting Firms 

Let's take a closer look at my top 10 list:  
 

1. UTILIZATION RATE 

This KPI measures the percentage of time that consultants spend on billable work. It's like a time-tracking app on steroids.  

For consulting firms, the utilization rate is important because it helps you understand how efficiently you’re using your resources.  

To track and improve this KPI, you can use time-tracking software, set realistic utilization targets, and analyze your data to identify areas for improvement.  

2. EFFECTIVE BILL RATE 

This is an impressive piece of business intelligence that calculates the actual revenue generated by every billable hour worked by an employee.  

This metric can be used to identify opportunities to increase profitability but is more interesting when evaluating the performance of each employee and comparing them to their peers. 

3. NET REVENUE PER FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE 

This is your firm's equivalent to miles-per-gallon in your car. It offers insights into efficiency, profitability, benchmarking, resource allocation, growth strategy, and employee engagement and retention.  

Some firms are mistaken that they should only be considering the revenue earned by each consultant. While this is important when thinking about compensation (salary and bonus), it can’t gauge the overall efficiency and profitability of your firm.  

Nearly every firm has overhead employees. How effective are they in contributing to your firm's revenue? Are you top-heavy? Do you have too many administrative workers and not enough earners? This KPI tells that story. 

4. CLIENT SATISFACTION SCORE 

Also known as the Net Promoter score, this KPI allows you to measure how satisfied clients are with your consulting firm's services.  

Client satisfaction is important because it's a key driver of client retention and referrals. To track and improve this KPI, consulting firms can use surveys or interviews to gather feedback, set clear expectations with clients, and implement improvements based on their feedback.  

High client satisfaction is an indicator of quality service and effective project management. 

5. CLIENT RETENTION RATE 

This is an important KPI because it measures how many clients renew their contracts with your consulting firm or return for new business.  

Think of it as a measure of their loyalty and trust.  

For consulting firms, the client retention rate is important because it helps you understand how well you’re meeting client needs and how likely clients are to renew. To track and improve this KPI, your firm can analyze its contract renewal data, implement improvements based on client feedback, and provide exceptional customer service.  

6. SALES CONVERSION RATE 

This KPI measures how many leads turn into clients. The sales conversion rate is essential because it helps you understand how well your marketing and sales efforts are performing.  

To track and improve this KPI, you can analyze your sales data, identify areas for improvement in your marketing and sales processes, and implement improvements based on your data.  

You should start learning which partners are closers, and which types of engagements are easiest for you to win. 

7. REVENUE GROWTH 

Tracking revenue growth allows firms to measure the financial success of their projects and overall business.  

Observing changes in revenue can help identify trends, spot potential issues, and measure the effectiveness of various strategies and practices. 

8. PROFIT MARGIN 

This is the percentage of revenue that remains as profit after accounting for all expenses.  

This not only indicates your firm's overall profitability and efficiency in managing costs but enables firms to make informed decisions about pricing and cost management. 

9. AGED ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE 

This KPI is vital for managing cash flow, assessing client risk, and forecasting revenue, while optimizing your billing and collections processes.  

In addition, you can use this KPI to nurture positive client relationships. 

10. PROJECT / ENGAGEMENT PROFIT 

Most firms have business accounting software that will tell them their overall profit margin. Consulting firms also need Project Accounting software. Understanding the Profit Margin for each individual engagement enables you to elevate a project manager into the more desirable role of business manager as they can now become accountable for that project's financial performance. They become the CEO of their own little company - your engagement.  In addition, you learn about which managers and project types are most effective for your firm. 

By tracking and improving these KPIs for your consulting firm, you can achieve your goals, deliver value to your clients, and stay ahead of the competition.  

Best Practices for Tracking KPIs 

Now that we've identified the top KPIs for your consulting firm, it's important to talk about best practices for tracking KPIs. After all, I wouldn’t just tell you what these KPIs are and then leave you on your own to figure out how to manage them.  

These following best practices are like the secret sauce that makes KPI tracking effective and meaningful: 

Choosing the Right KPIs 

Seems simple, but if you don’t choose the right KPIs, you’re not getting the full picture.  

It's important to choose KPIs that are relevant to your consulting firm's goals and objectives.  

When choosing KPIs, consider what you want to achieve, what metrics are most important to your clients, and what data you have available to track.  

Defining KPI Targets and Benchmarks 

It's also very important to set realistic KPI targets and benchmarks that are achievable and meaningful. It's like setting a fitness goal for yourself. You know what you want to achieve and what you need to do to get there.  

When setting KPI targets and benchmarks, consider your historical data, industry standards, and what is achievable with your current resources.  

Ensuring Data Accuracy and Consistency 

You want your KPI data to be accurate and consistent across all platforms.  

Think of it like making sure your GPS has the right coordinates.  

When ensuring data accuracy and consistency, consider using data validation tools, setting up regular data audits, and using a centralized data repository.  

Regularly Reviewing and Analyzing KPI Data 

You want to regularly review and analyze your KPI data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement.  

When reviewing and analyzing KPI data, consider using data visualization tools, setting up regular data review meetings, and involving key stakeholders in the analysis.  

Adjusting KPI Targets and Strategies as Needed 

A final best practice I recommend is to adjust your KPI targets and strategies as needed based on your analysis and feedback from stakeholders.  

Don’t just set your targets once and think that’s it. As you start measuring and analyzing performance, you’ll learn that your targets and strategies may need to change.  

When adjusting KPI targets and strategies, consider using agile project management methodologies, involving key stakeholders in the decision-making process, and communicating changes clearly to your team.  

If you start by following these best practices for tracking KPIs, your consulting firm can ensure that your KPI tracking efforts are effective, meaningful, and actionable.  

So go ahead and implement these best practices in your consulting firm's KPI tracking strategy and see the results roll in!  

Tools for Tracking KPIs 

Now that we've discussed the top KPIs for consulting firms and best practices for tracking KPIs, it's time to talk about the tools and software that your firm can use to track and analyze data.  

Don’t think you have to handle this all manually!  

These tools I’m going to talk about are like the Swiss Army knife of KPI tracking - they help consulting firms gather, analyze, and visualize their KPI data for maximum impact.   

Let's look at some of the tools and software that consulting firms can use: 

Excel Spreadsheets 

Spreadsheets provide a simple and familiar way to track and analyze KPI data.  

Your firm can use spreadsheets to create tables, charts, and graphs that allow you to visualize and understand data.  

Spreadsheets are a good tool to get you started. They’re easy to access and perfect for some quick data and tables.  

I don’t recommend using spreadsheets for the long haul as they’re prone to misinformation due to human error. However, they’re a good quick-starting tool.   

Business Intelligence Software 

Business intelligence software is like the power tool of the KPI tracking toolkit. It’s what you really want to use over spreadsheets. It will save you time and headaches when managing data. 

Software like BQE CORE provides advanced features for data analysis, visualization, and reporting. Your consulting firm can use this software to create dashboards, custom reports, and automated alerts based on KPI data.  

It’s the tool you want now that you’re getting serious about taking control of your firm’s performance.   

Performance Management Dashboards 

Performance management dashboards are like the dashboard of a car - they provide a real-time view of your KPIs and metrics.  

You can use performance management dashboards like BQE CORE to monitor your KPIs and metrics in real-time, identify trends, and take action based on their data.  

By using these tools and software to track and analyze your KPI data, you can get the insights you need to make data-driven decisions, improve performance, and achieve your goals.   

So go ahead and experiment with different tools and software to find the ones that work best for your consulting firm's KPI tracking needs.  

Conclusion 

Tracking KPIs for consulting firms is essential if you want to stay competitive and achieve your goals.  

By tracking and analyzing KPI data, your firm can identify opportunities for improvement, make data-driven decisions, and deliver value to your clients.  

So, if you haven't started tracking KPIs in your consulting firm, it's time to get started!  

Visit BQE University to learn more about tracking KPIs and improving your firm’s profitability through our expert driven webinars, blogs, eBooks, and more.  

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