The next generation of business technology enables the streamlining of workflows that connect silos to create better levels of operational capability for professional service organizations.
With modern ERP, FP&A, and HCM, it’s now possible to totally integrate every part of your professional services business into a unified organism. And given the challenges being presented by increasingly distributed working, and demand from people for simple tools and data that aids productivity, this kind of integration will soon be necessary for survival. It will play a key role in proactively controlling costs and ensuring your resources are used to their greatest possible effect.
Service focused businesses – like software and IT consulting, engineering, and architecture firms – face unique challenges:
- Maintaining profitability as clients demand higher and higher levels of service
- Winning new business while continuing to service existing clients effectively
- Ensuring operational efficiency scales and improves as the company grows
The crisis precipitated by the COVID pandemic has only made the need to find sustainable, long term solutions to these challenges more urgent. It’s not just a matter of ensuring resources aren’t wasted and costs are controlled to help the business save for a rainy day. Remote working is making us all re-examine concepts like optimizing and sustaining utilization, carefully managing project lifecycles, and ensuring everyone involved remains happy and engaged. Not to mention increasing the need for full project visibility even as projects become more fragmented.
So how do we tackle these issues?
Collaboration in an age of remote working, despite modern technology, is more difficult and less personal. This change is even more stark for professional services organizations used to working in project teams. Integrated workflows across the business will help to overcome siloed data and a lack of fluidity between teams.
Fortunately, modern cloud-based ERP, FP&A, and HCM solutions have evolved to such an extent that they can now form the basis of an operational architecture that allows you to achieve this kind of integration more easily than you might think.
For example, our customer Kinetic IT has used Unit4 ERP to reduce billing time by nearly 50%. They achieved this by radically simplifying operational processes through automation and integration. And in the process, they’ve also improved their forecasting accuracy by 94%.
Start with the basics
The main obstacle to integrating front and back office functions – even in the age of technology – lies in conflicting “philosophies” of how work is and should be done.
The finance team handles invoicing and payments. Sales handles sales. Consultants do consulting (and sometimes project management.) Each unintentionally causing bottlenecks of integration. Combined with normal resistance to change, this represents what can seem like a major cultural obstacle.
But it’s one that can easily be overcome by giving people the tools they need to achieve their individual goals in harmony with those of other teams.
A single ecosystem within which all members of the organization can work – and within which they’re able to see how their own actions impact the workflows of others – can go a long way to achieving this. What’s more, it can create organic opportunities for different teams to influence each other’s success. Consultants and project managers can support sales representatives to sell more to customers based on their practical experience.
And the back office functions of finance and HR can proactively spot where resources are needed to support project management and frontline teams, and make sure they’re properly resourced.
In fact, by consolidating their systems in this way, another customer I spoke to recently has seen so much success they’ve been able to work seamlessly while handling over 20 mergers without any interruption to normal workflows.
Discover how Unit4 can help elevate your business. Join us at X4U, October 14 & 15.
We want you to experience what Unit4’s solutions can do for a business like yours. Which is why this October, we’re hosting Experience4U. A global virtual event showcasing everything our products can do for a service-based business like yours.
In Building adaptability and resilience into service-based organizations, we’ll be covering topics like the one we’ve been exploring here:
- Merging your front and back office to drive greater efficiencies for your billable staff.
- A Unit4 customer will speak about how their journey to Unit4’s Professional Services Industry model has made them more agile, efficient and effective.
In An Integrated Approach to Financial Planning Needs we’ll explore how a flexible, integrated approach can cover a professional services organization’s financial planning needs. From planning cash flow, managing operational budgets, to forecasting sales, costs, and revenue.
In Streamlining Administrative Processes, you will hear directly from Peab, a Unit4 customer, on how they’ve used Unit4 ERP to achieve a simpler, more efficient administrative infrastructure at a lower TCO.
And in The New Future of Professional Services, you will learn where PSOs are making changes, how they are adapting, including potent new methods for instilling more sustainability and adaptability into the PSO operating model. Attendees will away with specific, actionable strategies at each level of the PSO to prepare for revitalization and growth in 2021 and beyond.
Unit4’s next-generation enterprise software supports our customers in delivering an exceptional People Experience to their customers – from students and professionals to the public servants and non-profits doing good in the world. Unit4 transforms work to be more meaningful and inspiring through software that’s self-driving, adaptive and intuitive, intelligently automating administrative tasks and providing easy access to the answers people need. Unit4 works with people the way people work.