Improving global project outcomes with an ERP for professional services - Image credit -Gerd Altmann from-PixabayTo 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. 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 an 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The cost of using outdated systems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 create labor-intensive manual processes, which hampers productivity. It can also limit access to accurate, up-to-date, company-wide information, which restricts people’s 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. This doesn’t bode well for the success of future bids, nor does it help to 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.

For example, it is important for project managers to get an honest and clear view of how things really are operating in a project. Modern ERP sends out sentiment requests to the project team and the customer. By asking relevant questions and collecting feedback, machine learning tools can perform a sentiment analysis. Anonymous pulse surveys help the project manager respond to important issues quickly to keep projects running successfully, while providing the intelligence required for continuous improvement.

When smart ERP is integrated with a Human Capital Management (HCM), solution, talent management platform, and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) application, it brings people, systems, processes and data together in a shared system, delivering complete visibility and 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. It also establishes 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. There is also the provision of 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 including how your organization delivers international projects and how it functions on a global scale, while further enhancing the way your people work. Projects can be planned and resourced more easily and effectively and make it easier to work together across international borders. Improvements to the user experience upgrade your People Experience by streamlining work and delivering greater transparency.

It 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 recently announced its next-generation cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for mid-market services organizations – ERPx, that delivers fully integrated ERP, HCM and FP&A, on a unified architecture, with rapid deployment and industry-specific innovations out-of-the-box.

When implemented using the PSO Industry Model, Unit4’s ‘out of the box’ best practice configuration, the cost of going live is substantially reduced as one click can result in automatic business process model generation across hundreds of activities.

A modern cloud micro-services platform provides all the benefits of the cloud – improved ROI, automatic upgrades, elastic scalability, high availability, performance at scale, security, and continuous monitoring – combined with a system that learns and evolves through continuous and fast innovation as the organization changes. This ensures the system remains nimble and aligned with the business and doesn’t become outdated. Functionality can be replaced and updated quickly without impacting users.

Improve global project outcomes

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

Unit4_LogoUnit4’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.

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