Five ways cloud ERP software can boost your performance
Professional services firms can be somewhat…unusual…in their use of technology solutions. In many cases, it tends to be an eclectic blend of the latest greatest gadgetry, with sub-optimal back-office or line-of-business systems. And by introducing better back office systems, your professional services firm can automate, accelerate and get more done in less time. Here’s how we see it as it stands – and how it can be made better.
This may sound familiar to you, whether you’re running a law firm, advertising agency, architectural or accounting practice, engineering firm or other consulting firm: your consultants are equipped with the latest laptops and smartphones, giving an appropriate image of professionalism.
But what’s on those devices? The bet is in that it’s nothing more sophisticated than Excel spreadsheets and other Microsoft Office applications.
Which is, of course, perfectly fine because these are proven and valuable tools quite capable of handling the things they were designed for. But are they the best tools available for running a professional services business?
Right there, let’s agree that this isn’t quite a simple ‘yes or no’, since scale definitely has a role to play in coming to the answer. Put it this way: Excel and Word will do a great job for a one-man band. It would probably scale just fine to maybe 5 consultants. Get to ten or more and things are likely to get a bit shaky.
That’s because it suddenly becomes challenging to easily see who is working on what. How many hours are being spent at each individual client? Which consultants are available, and when? And if these problems are left unchecked, they will choke your business, with more time being spent by highly trained professionals on ‘looking for stuff’ and less time being spent doing the things they are good at (which also translate into ‘billable hours’.
So, here are five ways that a cloud ERP solution can boost your professional services business (and ready it for the big time):
Ready for scale
An integrated ERP system gives you the tools to accurately track progress across multiple engagements, with multiple consultants and teams, and (for those busy with international engagements) across time zones. Powerful financial management features combine with features like Customer Relationship Management and business intelligence analytics, providing detailed insights into customers, consultants and engagements, so you know where and how your business is performing (and where it might need attention). Check out MYOB’s whitepaper on the value of BI and CRM here.
Take control of operations
A cloud ERP solution provides an essential “single source of the truth” for their operations. Siloed information is the bane of a growing company: Excel, Word and Outlook are notorious places where information hides. A cloud ERP solution provides an accurate overview of ongoing processes and equips you to capture and analyse information from all segments of your business. And the reporting tools produce comprehensive updates on project finances, scheduling, and relevant metrics. Keep track of cost, revenue, and human resources consistently for precise operational management.
Everything about ERP is about communication and information sharing, to the appropriately authorised people of course. Cloud ERP provides instant, seamless communication between consultants, clients, business units and suppliers, which were likely previously walled off by traditional forms of interaction. And that rolls up into comprehensive reporting for an integrated view of all of your front-end touchpoints to enable complete management of customer lifecycles.
This one is especially difficult to manage at scale if you don’t have modern systems in place. Compiling data from decentralized sources (that is, the Excel files from all your consultants) is crippling. Modern financials deliver enhanced fiscal reporting, so that all your transactions can be tracked and maintained within a single framework. A comprehensive, consistent view of all financial data captured and delivered on-demand allows for precise revenue and cost management across the value chain. It makes compliance with GAAP or IFRS easy. And it makes sleeping easier, too.
Automation, of course
Implied across all four of the above advantages is another: automation. Manual processes absolutely strangle operations. It costs a lot, too. Cloud ERP means getting rid of time-consuming, tedious tasks, starting with time and attendance, and going all the way through to budgeting and even project and (if your organisation is that big) portfolio management. And reports, so central to delivery for many professional services firms? Wouldn’t it be nice to get reports at the push of a button, rather than at the end of several long nights with a coffee pot?
If any of these challenges sound familiar for your professional services firm, get in touch. We’d love to show you how we’ve helped other businesses expedite their processes, cut out manual work, improve efficiency and set themselves up for growth. Give us a call to discuss.