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Why professional services firms need the right systems for their growth plans

Professional Services firms had a tough year in 2023. According to various sources, growth was muted. 

The 2024 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark from global research organization SPI states that revenue grew by 7.8% globally in 2023, down from 10.4% revenue growth in 2022. 

However, it’s not all bad news. Expectations are better for 2024, and the sector will likely bounce back despite the geopolitical and economic factors taking place worldwide. SPI Research expects revenue growth to return to the 10-12% rate it typically achieves.

With a positive outlook for 2024 and beyond, Professional Services firms need to ensure they can deliver on their growth plans and not be held back by legacy systems. But making that shift can be difficult.

Adoption of new technology can be time-consuming which can create friction and frustration for all. It can also take time for users to get familiar with new systems, which can result in poor adoption. But outdated legacy systems are failing us, and the challenges just mentioned can be overcome. 

Legacy systems and growth

According to the 2023 PAC report, “over three-quarters (79%) of Professional Services firms view dependence on legacy applications as a primary barrier to driving innovation in their organizations.” This is an increase from the previous year when 71% of those interviewed cited the same response.

Legacy systems can impact productivity, especially for employees working in a hybrid environment or consultants based in the field who cannot access central systems quickly and easily. Running multiple versions of Excel or other spreadsheets can create errors and require an overabundance of manual work to ensure data is correct.

They also cannot support the flexibility and adaptability that firms need to compete, grow, and capture a greater share of their market. In many cases, holding on to old systems ends up costing more in terms of data security, lack of integration, poor data management, and inhibition of scalability and growth. 

The benefits of transitioning to a modern Cloud-Based ERP system

Adopting a modern Cloud-based ERP system offers numerous advantages for organizations looking to streamline operations and reduce costs. Over a five-year period, the investment in a Cloud ERP system is often significantly lower than maintaining a legacy system.

Cloud ERP systems eliminate the complexities and risks associated with customizations found in legacy systems. Modern Cloud solutions are designed for easy upgrades and seamless integrations, ensuring compatibility with other software systems and reducing the reliance on a limited pool of knowledgeable individuals within the organization.

With a Cloud-based ERP system, organizations benefit from an integrated, centralized data repository. This integration minimizes input errors, enhances data accuracy, and provides comprehensive insights, enabling better decision-making and strategic planning.

Cloud solutions also offer robust security features, ensuring that data is protected, and regulatory compliance is maintained. These systems are cost-effective, providing excellent value for money while eliminating the inefficiencies associated with legacy IT infrastructure.

Another huge benefit of a Cloud ERP system is that it positively impacts staff morale by offering a user-friendly interface and reducing frustrations caused by outdated technology. This fosters engagement and satisfaction among employees, contributing to a more productive and motivated workforce.

Click to read Leaving legacy behind to build business resilience

A single source of truth

While many organizations believe that their processes are unique to their firms, the reality is that vendors who specialize in systems for service-based organizations understand and know what is required and have built those repeatable processes into their offerings.

With a wealth of knowledge, these vendors can help set up best practices to improve efficiencies, align your processes with industry norms, and ensure you remain compliant with industry regulations and standards,

Cloud-based, out of the box systems include the latest technology to help automate manual tasks, allowing your users to spend more time on the work that matters, rather than routine, time-consuming activities. 

Additionally, AI tools provide valuable insights and predictions, enabling teams to use data to guide and advise on growth plans, thereby enhancing strategic decision-making and overall productivity.

Choosing a Cloud system that will be regularly updated ensures firms avoid development, ongoing maintenance, and upgrade costs.

So why are firms still holding onto their legacy systems? Possible reasons include the many examples of new technology adoptions that do not go according to plan and take longer than expected. 

One reason why ERP implementations don’t live up to the promises they offer, is not having clear goals set out at the start of the project and not partnering with a vendor to ensure that systems are supported long after the initial setup is finished.

Ready to grow?

If you have ambitious growth plans for 2024 and beyond, then it’s time to consider an ERP system that will enable you to set up new offices in days, not weeks or months, onboard staff quickly and easily, and move staff between teams as your structure grows and expands. 

For firms setting up across multiple countries and working in various currencies, moving away from spreadsheets to integrated systems that will update financials in seconds with the correct currency data is crucial to the smooth running of operations.

Ditching the legacy system for a Cloud-based solution will ensure you’ll never be left behind. As technology advances, with AI capabilities, machine learning (ML), and automation, you can rest assured that you will remain at the forefront of these developments. 

Finally, partnering with your vendor will mean that you are supported throughout the entire lifecycle of your ERP system and not just during the onboarding stage. As many firms know, onboarding is only the start of your journey.

How Unit4 can help professional service firms grow

At Unit4, we’ve been creating technology solutions for Professional Service firms for over 40 years. Our expertise and considerable knowledge base allow us to provide and implement solutions tailored to the needs of firms that rely on their people's expertise for high-quality service delivery and want to realize time to value faster than typical IT implementation projects.

Our next-generation ERPx is fully Cloud-based and constructed with the efficiency of costing and scaling in mind. It’s built around a flexible microservices architecture that makes it possible to utilize new technology quickly and enables the use of AI to build intelligent automation into the processes your organization relies on to succeed. 

We can help you relieve your people of much of the administrative burden and provide them with a single source of truth for everything that happens within their shared working environment. Let them focus on the jobs they were hired to do for increased engagement and productivity.

Head over to our new webpage – outdated ERP systems, to learn what sets Unit4 apart, how easy it is to switch, what you could achieve, and what the expert analysts have to say.

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