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10 tips for implementing an ERP system in global professional services organizations

Posted by  Henk Onstwedder

Having collaborated with many professional services organizations (PSOs) over the years, I’ve seen ERP systems implemented in many ways. And I’m often asked the secret to ensuring this software drives fast and ongoing ROI.

While every business is different, good practice can ensure that people-focused and project-based ERP software reaches its full potential. Based on my experience, here are some factors that professional services organizations should prioritize.

  1. Set clear KPIs

To be successful, you first need to define what success is. KPIs should be set at senior level and communicated across your organization and to individuals.

  1. Share reporting methods

If your goals are consistent, the measurement process must be too. Agree at global level which reports you want to use, so that everyone is appraised on the same terms.

  1. Define charts of account

While some things can be set globally, when it comes to accounting, regional legislation must be integrated with overall objectives. Make sure you’re adhering to statutory requirements in every region, using local charts of accounts where needed.

  1. Cost consistently

In my experience, it’s common for teams within an organization to use different costing methods. Define a common cost base and consider whether direct or full costing will give you the best results.

  1. Align intercompany billing

Rather than negotiating on a case-by-case basis, set standard rates for intercompany billing. Just make sure you consider local tax requirements in your calculations.

  1. Put opportunity management on one page

It’s not just objectives that need to be consistent; the sales process must be unified as well. This will enable teams to create a single view of the business pipeline, to determine future revenue streams.

  1. Agree a process for bid decision management

In addition to managing opportunities consistently, your workforce needs a unified view of risk. Set clear processes for evaluating projects before proposals are sent to the client and ensure that comparable business units manage risk in the same way.

  1. Draw from a set skills framework

Defining skillsets often falls to HR, but it’s important that client-facing personnel get involved in this process. Select a clear, concise list that can be easily documented and accessed so that your employees have a consistent, reliable and inspirational employee experience.

  1. Standardize reporting methods

I mentioned earlier about agreeing a set of reports, and the content of these reports matter just as much. We recommend earned value management as an effective metric for analyzing success.

  1. Streamline invoicing

Some professional services companies run all invoices through the finance department, others leave it to project management teams. Either works fine, so long as you have a unified approach and a standard invoice format.

Finding the right cloud ERP partner

A lot of this best practice is driven (or not driven) by a company’s choice of vendor and their ERP system.

Success stories happen when professional services organizations work with vendors built for the global stage; this means using a solution with the flexible architecture needed to manage constant change in the global arena, which can be easily configured to the idiosyncrasies of your business.

Work with a partner that understands global project-based businesses inside-out; discover Unit4 industry specific solutions for Professional Services Organizations.

Henk Onstwedder

Henk Onstwedder is Global VP at Unit4 focusing on Professional Services Organizations (PSO). He is responsible for building Unit4’s value proposition, creating and delivering on industry product roadmaps, developing the ecosystem, and leading strategic sales engagements.

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