Many professional services companies face similar challenges due to the nature of their work. They regularly have to deal with issues such as maximising billable hours, managing complex projects and planning for unpredictable demand.
But how do you overcome these obstacles? And what tools are there to help? In our webinar-turned-podcast episode, I sit down with my colleague Chris Nichols, Dynamics 365 Consultant and Staffan Nilsson, Partner Manager at Progressus Europe.
How can technology help the professional services industry?
Professional services firms can struggle to reach their full potential if their core processes are working in silos (e.g. sales isn’t integrated into finance).
Overreliance on disconnected tools like Excel spreadsheets mean:
- Data is scattered across multiple systems which often delays critical information reaching your team
- Double or triple data entry as there’s multiple systems which increases the chances of human error
- Reporting and data will most likely be siloed to each system which makes it harder for you to pinpoint risks/areas that need improvement
By having integrated systems, you can bring all your data into one place, making it easy to:
- Access data from one system to another which minimises manual work and eliminates data siloes and duplication
- View up-to-date information in real-time and identify areas of concern/success
- Gain full visibility of your processes including sales, HR, finance, etc..
- Control multiple projects by viewing their status
- Boost productivity (e.g. record time entry via Outlook from a click of a button)
Challenge #1 – Making resource planning easier
Not having a seamless time entry process can make it an arduous task. Employees will likely leave it until the last day to sort and by then, they’ve forgotten what hours they’ve worked.
This makes it easy to misreport time which – on its own – may not seem much. However, when all your employees are misreporting hours this each week this quickly adds up to an enormous amount over a year.
So, make it easier to capture time by investing in time and expense software that’s:
- Can be used from a web browser or mobile device
Challenge #2 – Dealing with complex projects
If you’re a new business, you’ll likely start with a couple of projects, a few employees and a small number of skills/resources to manage. You might also be managing your services through spreadsheets and disparate systems.
But as you grow, the challenges quickly become more difficult because you’ll have:
- More projects to manage
- More complex projects (which could be international/overseas projects)
- Bigger workforce to manage
- Significant amounts of data coming in/out of your business
These factors add to the difficulty of you providing a good/profitable service to your customers.
With integrated systems, you’ll have better control of your processes which:
- Enables growth without adding headcount to your business
- Maintain profitable growth as you can be proactive in your decision rather than reactive e.g. if data shows a project is going to be under/over budget
- Helps you provide excellent customer service by offering accurate information
Technology and value go hand-in-hand
It’s important to understand the value a new solution will bring to your business before you start the implementation process. Some reasons include:
- If you can see value from the beginning, you’ll help gain buy-in from your organisation e.g. your people will understand why you're making changes
- As the solution is implemented, it helps your people measure the success of projects against the value expected from the solution. For example, you may expect the implementation to increase revenue by X amount or bring in efficiencies in X areas. Having a clear understanding of its value allows you to quantify what success looks like
Want to learn more about how you can overcome challenges in the professional services industry? Scroll up to the top of this post to listen to the episode or search for ‘ColumbusCast’ in your podcast app. You’ll hear more insights such as:
- The best way to balance project work with onboarding
- Importance of connecting your finance and project management departments
- The ultimate PSA solution
Alternatively, to watch the on-demand webinar version, click on the button below:
Your guide to choosing the right professional services tool
The right PSA software can help you manage time tracking, contracts, project management invoicing, billing and more. But with so many solutions on the market, it can be tricky to find the one best suited to your needs.
In our guide, we cover everything you need to know when choosing a PSA tool. From what features to look out to why your choice of vendor matters too, grab your copy by clicking on the button below.