Glasses Man

How PSOs are breaking new ground to overcome The Great Productivity Challenge

Posted by  Henk Jan Onstwedder

As workforce productivity growth approaches record lows, Unit4’s head of the department for professional services organizations, Henk Jan Onstwedder, explains how people-centered organizations are overcoming possibly the greatest challenge of all by upgrading the employee experience.

The PSO sector is facing a long-term decline in productivity growth. (Productivity is still increasing, but at a declining rate.) And that is a concern, as this may have a longer-term impact on the attractiveness of this sector to people who are just joining the workforce. It’s also costing a lot.

One observation here is that we’re just not making enough progress in getting rid of non-value-adding tasks. Nobody is hired to do timesheets or expense reports, but we still lose a lot of productive time to mundane administrative tasks. Estimates are that this is costing the industry no less than $5 trillion per year.

The second observation is that it’s remarkable that all the technological advancement, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, is not reversing this productivity trend. It’s almost as if we have a great toolkit, but we still have to figure out how to best use the tools within it. I also believe that part of the reason for this is that organizations have “too much technology and not enough time”.

Despite the amount of applications, only one in three (38 percent) workers are satisfied with their work-related tools and technology, leading the overwhelming majority (84 percent) of leaders to rethink their workforce experience to improve productivity.

Tackling The Great Productivity Challenge

So, how can we overcome this challenge? Part of the solution lies in breaking new ground through digital technology systems — to be precise, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution suites which enable joined-up management across the back and front office and make work better for people every day.

Modern ERP platforms can help you create accurate proposals based on previous, successful, projects and show you where to compete, saving sales staff valuable time. These cloud platforms can provide real-time, 360-degree visibility over project plan, schedule, cost and budget, giving time back to employees while creating a positive employee experience. And they can provide insight to better utilize billable staff across projects, meaning consultants are as productive as they can possibly be.

An industry-specific ERP application which includes integrated corporate performance management capabilities can also help you more accurately collect, bill and report financial transactions, so accountants can add value to the organization elsewhere. And the right ERP can help you transform planning, forecasting and budgeting into a more proactive, regular, streamlined, organization-wide process.

Systems for people

A key component here is that it can’t be just about the system. The people experience in all this is as critical as the business value these systems deliver. If we want to improve productivity, it’s not about more functionality, but about improved EX. It’s about reducing or removing laborious, repetitious, manual tasks, and creating the right experience.

The right systems change how tasks are done, how people interact with technology and how they use information to identify new opportunities, optimize decisions and enhance processes.

Today’s integrated ERP solution suites help organizations build employee journeys, develop apps, create and monitor workflows and add conversational user interfaces. This improves EX and boosts productivity, enabling people-centered service organizations to execute better business strategy, deliver exceptional team performance and grow their businesses.

The PSO frontrunners have discovered that streamlining and automating back- and front-office processes, while providing staff with modern tools, creates space for employees to focus on meaningful work. Customer experience improves when we make employees’ lives better because they have what they need to deliver their best work: smarter, faster, more collaboratively. This, in turn, improves employee engagement, job satisfaction and, most importantly, productivity.

Capitalizing on a digital future

The challenge for all people-centered and project-based organizations, as they undergo digital transformation, is to respond to the trends of the Everything-as-a-Service world, capitalize on the opportunities it presents and overcome the barriers. The industry frontrunners are using technology to do just that.

As they‘ve discovered, workforces are intrinsically linked to organizational growth, agility and innovation, so it’s never been more critical for their people to spend less time on tedious, manual tasks and more time on the work that really matters.

To discover the reasons why your organization should embrace the right technology, and how it can capitalize on the opportunities of a digital future download the industry brochure: BREAKING NEW GROUND FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS — how people-centered and project-based professional services organizations are thriving despite The Great Productivity Challenge.


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Henk Jan Onstwedder

Henk Jan is an experienced executive in the software business, who has worked in the ERP market for 25 years. Prior to joining Unit4 in 2016, he held a range of line-management roles in the software industry, covering sales, delivery and general management. Henk Jan is heading Unit4’s department for Professional Services Organisations, creating and delivering on industry product roadmaps, developing the ecosystem, and leading strategic sales engagements.