How are professional services organisations responding to digital disruption?
Posted by Henk Jan Onstwedder
Success in professional services means prioritising your people, the projects they work on and the clients they support. Unit4’s Global VP Professional Services Organisations, Henk Jan Onstwedder, takes a closer look at how the leaders are harnessing technology to do all that, while at the same time delivering a better people experience.
A pattern is emerging in the professional services industry — many leading companies are reacting to the demands of digital disruption in the same ways; and their responses center around finding the right technology to enable rapid change, while looking after their people. Let’s take a closer look.
Competition is intense in professional services, so organisations need to put their client and prospect relationships first. Success in this industry means building a strong sales pipeline and then enabling sales teams to consistently deliver standout responses during the tendering process.
To achieve this, many companies are investing in enterprise resources planning (ERP) platforms, through which they can analyse the performance of previous successful projects, and learn from those that did not deliver the desired results.
By combining this data into a single source of truth, they can deliver better proposals and feel confident they will deliver on their promises once the client relationship has been secured.
The real secret to the success of these systems is a greatly enhanced people experience so the people using them can deliver their best work in a smarter, faster, more collaborative way.
Equipping people with the right tools
Finding the right talent is critical to business success, so leading organisations are giving their workforce sophisticated tools to make their jobs easier, more straightforward and less laborious.
ERP and HCM software enables companies to automate many of the everyday, low-value processes which keep their operation running. This improves employee engagement, job satisfaction and productivity, as staff are able to focus on meaningful work.
Many of the market-leading ERP platforms also feature in-built business intelligence tools, so professional services organisations (PSOs) can analyse how best to use billable staff across upcoming projects, creating a more profitable way of working.
Refining the working model
ERP technology can reveal critical insights into one of professional services’ biggest profit killers: poor project performance.
The industry’s leading organisations are building new business models focused around productising services, which are easy to purchase from a client point of view; and employees at these firms have a clear set of deliverables and expectations.
With the help of the right enterprise applications, the industry frontrunners can identify effective working methods and establish standardised, repeatable processes, continually learning where improvements can be made. Holistic reporting capabilities also mean that project leaders have complete visibility of campaign objectives, milestones, budgets and expenditures, to ensure that everything is progressing on target.
Embracing ERP software is having a massive impact on the billing process too, as leading PSOs are using integrated performance management tools to more accurately invoice clients, fulfill compliance reporting requirements and track profitability.
In this way, forward-looking PSOs ensure that the efforts of their workforce don’t just deliver happy clients, but they support bottom-line success.
A foundation for innovation
The professional services sector is a good indicator for how well the corporate world as a whole is responding to digital disruption, due to its contribution to the global economy.
It’s clear that progressive professional services organisations are using technology as a foundation for innovation, giving them the visibility, tools and insight to empower their employees and exceed customer expectations.
The challenge for companies still responding to digital disruption is to find a platform that can deliver business-wide transformation, ensuring rapid return on investment.
To read more about how your organisation can innovate through ERP, download the industry brochure: BREAKING NEW GROUND FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES ORGANISATIONS — how people-centered and project-based professional services organisations are thriving despite The Great Productivity Challenge.
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