Mind the gap (Image credit/Pixabay/aitoff)Kantata has published a whitepaper titled “Mind the Gap: How to Bridge Front & Back Office Systems for Professional Services.” The paper was commissioned by Kantata and written by the Enterprise Times team. It looks at how professional services organisations often lack automation connecting their front and back office systems. The gap is often filled with point solutions, which are disconnected from each other. The report is based on secondary research commissioned by Kantata and a series of qualitative interviews.

After an introduction, the report is broken down into 6 sections. Kantata opted to publish the whitepaper as a single webpage, which is not gated. While it is possible to print to PDF, the formatting across nine pages is not perfect. Hopefully, Kantata will offer a download facility, even if that is gated.

The whitepaper focuses on three areas:

  • The reasons why gaps have emerged between the typical front and back office within firms.
  • The red flags that indicate the existence of these gaps.
  • How technology can bridge the front and back office gap and prevent it from becoming a canyon.

Why the gaps exist

For many PS leaders, the first section will be familiar. It highlights that as professional services organisations grow, they add appropriate tools for their immediate challenges. At the start, resource management, expenses and time recording are often done on spreadsheets, as these become cumbersome point solutions that help organisations automate these processes. As the business grows, the sales, operations and finance functions add CRM, Project Management tools and accounting packages. The problem is these are siloed products, hence the gaps.

The  Red Flags

This is one of two sections that provide useful takeouts for the business leader. Understanding that there are gaps is one thing. Locating where those gaps are is not always obvious. The authors have identified five areas that business leaders need to look to help understand where the gaps exist within their business. The whitepaper breaks down each of the five areas with examples and quotes from the interviewees. The five flags it highlights are:

  • Declining KPIs: Some obvious ones and some less obvious ones are explored.
  • Overreliance on Spreadsheets: No surprise with this one but Tom Schoen, CEO and President of BTM, put the issue in perspective, saying, “When I first started BTM, we ran it on spreadsheets that were all interlocked. It was pretty easy to do, when you have only half a dozen projects running at the same time. It doesn’t work when you have 70 to 80 projects running. We needed a professional services tool to be able to help manage that workload.
  • Critical information falling through the gaps: Without a continuous workflow from opportunity to cash, there are gaps in the workflows in which information will be lost.
  • Increase in Workarounds and Homegrown Solutions: Some gaps are obvious, and organisations put what are effectively bandaids on them, temporary solutions that degrade and break.
  • Unhappy clients: This flag could mean it is too late. Business leaders must identify why clients are unhappy very quickly.

Bridging the gap

It is important to understand when an organisation needs to bridge the gap. In an organisation’s early days, having a spreadsheet approach might be the right thing to do, but the costs of adding those point solutions mount, not just subscription costs but also hidden costs of administration time.

The right technology can help cover the gaps and provide a mesh that connects every function, process and data point, enabling organisations to work more efficiently. Kantatat offers such solutions.

The white paper offers 8 areas to consider for purchasing such a solution. The vendor-agnostic list provides a useful checklist for those considering new solutions.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is not a long white paper and offers useful insights for professional service leaders. Two sections provide real value for the reader that they can take away and use to identify their gaps and prepare a requirements document for their next solution.

Chris Mitchell, VP of Global Accounts at Kantata
Chris Mitchell, VP of Global Accounts at Kantata

Connecting the front and back offices is important. Chris Mitchell, VP of Global Accounts at Kantata, explained why saying, “The activities that flow between the front and back offices are responsible for taking the forecast and revenue margin from your CRM system and turning it into recognized revenue in your back office system. This involves accessing multiple processes: HR, time management, expense management, resource planning, etc.

“These are the core processes involved in delivering the forecast. The middle office covers all the processes involved in a professional services engagement between an opportunity being qualified and the final invoice being raised. And you need to give people in the middle office collaborative tools whereby they can work together.”

There are several professional services solutions on the market that address this challenge. News from which can be found in the news and posts on Enterprise Times.


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