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In our first post of this series, we considered how to change the narrative around the business benefits to be enjoyed by professional services firms. Instead of the traditional maximising revenue, optimising resource benefits etc, we should discuss differentiation and innovation through using relevant technology today.

In today’s post, as an illustration of incorporating differentiation and innovation, let’s look at how some of today’s Artificial Intelligence technologies (AI) can benefit professional services organisations.

The impact of AI on professional services

In an industry that relies on understanding vast amounts of data every day, AI can offer significant productivity benefits to professional services firms. For example, displacing repetitive work which can be assigned to AI and freeing up employees’ time to do more valuable and often more interesting tasks, in turn driving better business and customer outcomes.

This means you can spend less time reporting on the past and more time forecasting the future. Uncover hidden insights and find critical information in overwhelming amounts of data. In other words, you can use AI to make more accurate predictions in less time.

Examples of AI in professional servicesPhoto by Christina Morillo

 

How AI can be used in a professional services organisation

There are a wide range of AI applications available today suited for different use cases and levels of expertise. These include common business applications with AI built-in or out-of-the-box AI solutions for specific business processes, and even AI platforms for creating custom solutions.

Here are some examples of relevant AI technologies relating to Professional Services:

AI in marketing

AI can be used to score leads based upon machine learning and marketing professionals’ input, to ensure the lead is acted upon by the right channel at the right time.

Automated bots can further qualify leads after they are scored by emailing customers and evaluating their level of interest using natural language processing. And also, automatically reach out to expired leads to prevent potential customers from falling through the cracks.

AI in sales and projects

Use AI to analyse the characteristics of successful projects through sales or project insights. This can help your firm target or score opportunities against your own success criteria to win more business and minimise losses.

By linking to resources, this can feed into likely future resource requirements and potentially into recruitment drives or cross-training programs.

AI in finance

Use AI to develop a model that will predict late payments, thereby focussing more keenly on those customers where this is likely and reducing the overall administrative burden for the collections department. Managers can use a dashboard with risk scores that indicate the likelihood a customer will pay on time, which they can use to prioritise actions for their teams.

Analysing this data can also reveal trends to aid further business improvement. For example, it’s often the case that the more complex the invoice, the more likely the client will not pay on time. Therefore, reviewing the invoice makeup and way it’s presented to the client may not only deliver faster payment but also improve client satisfaction.

AI for professional services

A single source of data truth

The key to all of this working in sweet harmony is centralise your critical data. It’s about creating a single source of truth, from where your AI applications can analyse all this data and provide you with the insights you need to fuel business growth.

A project-centric enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is one such solution that can help you create this single source of truth. A complete ERP suite will bringing your back office operations and all associated data into one place, making it easier to manage, monitor and analyse critical business data.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations and its associated Microsoft technologies such as Office 365, the Microsoft Power Platform and MS Teams, is one example and brings front and back office operations together, creating a system of differentiation and innovation. Learn more about D365 Project Operations in our factsheet.

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The truth is, many (if not all) of what professional services firms promote as their differentiators have now become the norm. Today’s more demanding customers expect you to deliver quality projects on time and on budget – not hope.
For all professional services businesses, both time and money are key to survival. No matter the project, a variety of factors have to be considered, from assessing the affordability and return on investment (ROI) to the timeframe it will have to be carried out. The below tips will help you further understand what you can do to improve your own time and expense management, ensuring you are running as cost-effective and as efficiently for now, and in the future:
As a professional services business, you’re always looking for better ways to manage costs across multiple projects. With the right PSA software, you can professionally track and report your costs (including daily expenses you might think aren’t important) to stop you from blowing the budget.  Let’s look at some of the cost tracking features you should be looking out for in a PSA solution: 
Becoming a trusted advisor puts you in the invaluable position of being the first place your customers seek when they need quality advice and support. In other words, you’ll be in pole position to win any related work. 
Customer satisfaction essentially measures whether you met their expectations from the products or services you provide. 89% of consumers have been reported to have moved to a competitor based on poor customer experience, emphasising the importance of meeting customer expectations and making sure they are satisfied in the process.
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