DSC Practice Management

Over the past 24 years DSC has generated a set of operating procedures. For purposes of discussion here, we have highlighted the DSC operating procedures associated with DSC Practice Management, i.e., the organizing of our resources to perform and deliver client work.

 

The DSC Mission:

 

DSC must expend serious effort on getting to know the client's business and industry in great depth. DSC must establish opportunities for mutual discussions and explorations of the issues. DSC must be first and foremost a business partner, not a friend. The good news is that clients clearly do want to be brought new ideas: They want a relationship.

The Practice Manager

How does DSC respond to these client needs? The answer increasingly, has been and will continue to be Practice Managers (PM) who are responsible for DSC's total relationship with each key client. PMs have the responsibility of managing (and growing) DSC's relationship with major clients and coordinating professionals across the various disciplines required of DSC. The PM role at DSC will continue to evolve.

Luminary & Manager

The PM must wear 2-hats, a "luminary," the firm's representative to the client (i.e. facing outwards), and a "manager" (facing inwards) as client's representative and advocate to DSC, ensuring that all of DSC's resources are brought to bear on the client's problems.

 

PM's are primarily "relationship officers" and must focus on the (long-term) issue of strengthening the DSC-Client relationship. The job is to manage the relationship, not to try and build it alone. The total DSC team of people serving a major client should be made up of individuals from all elements of DSC, as required, and that total DSC team's responsibility is to build the DSC-Client relationship.

 

The job of the PM is to create and energize the DSC-team to serve their mutual client. This means devoting significant time to being a terrific coach.

Influence Without Authority

Practice managers often have responsibility without full authority. DSC team members assigned to the PM's account will not necessarily be direct reports to the PM. Accordingly, the PM must learn to manage without having the power of the purse to influence their team members. Fortunately, this can be done. While money is a major motivator, there do exist a number of "non-financial currencies" available to the PM which can be used to attract and energize members of the client team. Among these are:

• Challenge

• Meaning

• Participation / involvement

• Visibility (inside and outside DSC)

• Contacts

• Special roles or assignments

• Access to information

• Access to additional resources

• Personal interest

• Recognition

• Appreciation and approval.

 

The PM 's task is to make the DSC-team members want to participate actively in serving and nurturing the account. Effective PMs work at helping their team members find the excitement, the challenge and the drama in their client’s problems. Effective PMs also work hard to make the people on their team look good. They create opportunities for other team members to participate in high-visibility activities, which help their careers. They are willing to suppress their own ego needs and to work hard to give the team members valuable client exposure. They work hard to create new contacts for the DSC-team members, and get them involved in stretching, learning activities which are out of the norm of the team members' daily lives.

 

Outstanding PMs are always looking for ways to be helpful to their people before they need the people's (often last-minute, emergency) assistance. They think about ways to make it easier for their team to serve the client. They give them tools, research, industry and client information, all an easily digestible form. They arrange for someone to read, summarize and circulate EVERY trade magazine, industry association publication and financial analyst report in their client’s industry, so that all team members are up-to-date about what's going on in the client's world. Since the best way to get someone to cooperate with you is to do them a favor first.

 

Above all else, the best PMs maximize the amount of contact with client personnel and with their team members. They demonstrate a personal interest in everyone on the team, and use the immense power of face-to-face appreciation to motivate enthusiastic involvement on their account. They work on the principle that if they serve their team, the team will serve the client.

Summary

The most important fact to note about practice management is that it is an investment activity for everyone involved. While it is relatively easy to define the roles and responsibilities of the PM, ways must be found to convince and reassure other DSC-team members that participation in the key account program is a valid, recognized firm activity, even when it is not billable. The best news is that practice management is in everyone's interest at DSC. Clients want it and it benefits DSC by growing relationships and generating new fees. It also provides career-enhancing opportunities for every DSC professional involved.

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