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Improving global project outcomes with an ERP for professional services

from  August 26, 2020 | 4 min read

To deliver profitable projects with high customer satisfaction, international professional services firms need a continually evolving ERP that enables cross-border and intercompany collaboration while providing operational flexibility and exceptional user experience.

For people-centered organizations, managing projects in multiple locations is complicated enough. And running projects which span different regions with different legal entities brings further challenges.

These challenges fall on people in different departments, from planning, resourcing and finance teams to those managing compliance, operations and logistics. To achieve success, complex professional services organizations need maximum flexibility, seamless collaboration and enhanced user experience.

The challenges of managing global projects

The definition of success in international professional services is fast, efficient, profitable global project delivery, with compliant reporting, high customer satisfaction and exceptional People Experience. Achieving this success requires a specific set of capabilities within an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

To overcome the challenges of global project management, professional services firms need the ability to:

  • maintain control and visibility over project costs and statuses across borders
  • collaborate seamlessly between teams in different departments, and across separate companies
  • simplify complex, lengthy intercompany charging and billing
  • satisfy varying reporting, compliance and tax requirements
  • optimize billable utilization across different companies and countries
The cost of using outdated systems

Without these IT capabilities, organizations increase the risks of payment delays, project overruns and non-compliance penalties.

By using multiple, disjointed legacy systems, firms can create labor-intensive manual processes, which takes up valuable time of their people. It can also limit their access to accurate, up-to-date, company-wide information, which often restricts their ability to make smart, timely decisions.

The unfortunate result is reduced efficiencies, poorer margins and lower profits, alongside a drop in client satisfaction and employee engagement — which doesn’t bode well for the success of future bids, nor does it help them attract and retain talent.

A flexible ERP for global professional services

All of this is avoidable using a modern, flexible, cloud-based ERP for professional services. A modern ERP platform streamlines administration processes through automation and synchronizes real-time data for managing people, projects and finances via a single source of truth.

When integrated with Professional Services Automation (PSA) software, the combination becomes more powerful. According to market analyst, SPI Research, the leading professional services firms (the top five percent) recorded 26.5 percent net profit in 2019, and made more revenue per employee, billable consultant and project than the rest.

All of these top-performers use a commercial financial and accounting solution integrated with PSA software, says SPI: “They credit their PSA with improving resource, project management, time and expense capture and billing, leading to higher levels of billable utilization and on-time project completion.”

When ERP and PSA software are integrated with a Human Capital Management (HCM), solution, talent management platform (Intuo), and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) application, it brings people, systems, processes and data together across borders and companies in a shared system, delivering complete visibility and consistent, efficient processes.

Enhanced collaboration-based project planning

The right suite of integrated technology creates a single space (and a consistent data entry process) for local and global project planning and budgeting, along with a shared channel between the project owner and each part of the company.

It enables simplified, accurate time and expenses (T&E) entry from anywhere, and avoids manual duplication of T&E entries. It provides a single invoicing process for intercompany and standard project invoices.

All of this delivers a real-time, global view of all project data, T&E and other costs for the project owner. This, in turn, enables accurate forecasting and timely, accurate invoicing; it streamlines intercompany adjustments, ensures all costs are captured and minimizes payment delays and invoice disputes.

A constantly evolving ERP

With a constantly evolving ERP for professional services, the benefits to global project management increase further. The latest update of Unit4 ERP, for example, helps you improve how your organization delivers international projects and how it functions on a global scale, while further enhancing the way your people work.

With Unit4 ERP 7.6 (released in June 2020), international projects can be planned and resourced more easily and effectively. The latest updates make it easier to work together across international borders. And improvements to the user experience upgrade your People Experience by streamlining work and delivering greater transparency.

With this update, Unit4 ERP now allows for different legal requirements across multiple countries within a single project, improving reporting and billing accuracy. And it includes upgraded resourcing functionality for companies working with different legal entities within the same parent company. This reduces manual entry time and simplifies intercompany timesheets, cost differentiation and invoicing, bringing improvements to reporting, planning and forecasting.

Unit4 ERP now also includes simplified expense processes and improved timesheet data. It provides enhanced Field Service Mobile experience with smoother feedback and service order processing as well as richer functionality for field engineers. It also includes improved user experience features for Expenses, Payroll, Digital Assistance, Logistics and Requisitions. To see the Unit4 ERP updates in more detail, watch the Unit4 ERP Insight webinar.

Improve global project outcomes

With the right ERP suite for professional services, you can improve global project outcomes, maintain high customer satisfaction and deliver exceptional People Experience.

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