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Webinar: how professional services firms can leverage their tech stack for more streamlined practice management

In our recent webinar Make the most of your technology, Unit4’s Global Head of PSA Manav Singh outlined our vision for the Unit4 Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution. And how platform thinking and integration across your IT application ecosystem can help your firm to realize gains in efficiency, productivity, profitability, and client and employee satisfaction far beyond the capabilities of individual tools.

This blog post contains some of our favourite points from the discussion – including the contributions of Laura Giesen, National Director of Consulting Operations for our customer RSM US.

Getting the most out of your technology

According to Service Performance Insight’s 2021 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark, PSA technologies sit at the heart of business operations in high performing practices:

85% of the top-performing firms use PSA, and nearly two thirds have it integrated with the core financial management solution, which gives executives real-time visibility to all aspects of business development and service execution along with costs.

But PSA also plays an important role in the wider technology landscape for any professional services practice. Today, your IT landscape likely consists of a collection of different business applications – from CRM to PSA and HRM to financial management. Each of these delivers independent value. But if we consider them as part of a single IT platform – in which they all have an independent standalone value which contributes to a greater whole – we can potentially realize even greater value for the business.

We’ve developed Unit4 PSA with this kind of platform thinking in mind. It creates a connected experience for practice management from funnel to cash by turning your Microsoft Dynamics and other business apps into a single platform that breaks down data silos, allows you to plan and assess with all relevant data at your fingertips, and foster a culture across the entire workforce where everyone can take ownership and be invested in the success of their projects.

But why does a connected experience matter?

Simply put: it saves time and it saves money. Connected data across all your tools lets you spend less time on project setup, data transfer and syncing, and other administrative work – improving efficiency, giving you a more realistic idea of the profitability and feasibility of each job, and freeing up resources and time across your teams to explore the development of new business models that will help your practice survive and thrive.

The ability to eliminate context switching also gives you the power to create a unified user experience that your people will want to use. Boosting satisfaction and ultimately retention without radically transforming your existing application stack.

We call this unification of user experience “platform thinking” – it creates a single environment where your people can access the capabilities of multiple key systems without ever having to leave a single primary user experience – making the work of getting work done a simpler, more streamlined process that facilitates the goals of your users, rather than putting obstacles in their path.

Here’s what that looks like in practice.

RSM’s story – centralizing information for greater business value

Before integrating their applications platform with Unit4 PSA, RSM used multiple resource management and engagement tools across its 80 North American offices. While these served local practices well, they were standalone systems that could not provide an enterprise perspective of capacity across the whole firm.

PSA allows RSM to centralize the work they do for their consulting clients – improving visibility, reducing financial risks at the engagement level, and providing a foundation for resource management, planning, and even daily scheduling. This creates a variety of metrics for monitoring project health in real time – helping to ensure that clients’ needs are met without compromising the firm’s financial goals and targets.

The effect of the new system on its users has been positive – with users reporting it’s easy to navigate and that data collection and management is considerably more consistent. Regardless of project type, project managers are able to easily access project resources, while resource managers can quickly view capacity and assign and reassign work – while individual consultants always know which projects they’re assigned to, and can easily keep track of the work they’ve done to make time entry a more pleasant experience for everyone.

RSM’s success with platform thinking highlights its ability to increase the power of every application in your ecosystem by helping them work together. Although individual functionality adds value to their specific use cases, they can’t drive the business forward in isolation. When integrated, their potential can be fully leveraged to create competitive advantages and improved delivery that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.