Professional services companies from solicitors to MSPs are continually looking to find an edge to increase productivity and beat the competition. To ensure they provide their customers with a high quality of service, they require a solution to provide project management, efficient utilisation of talent, accurate time management and billing as a minimum. These requirements can prove challenging when consultants are working either remotely or on client site and trying to access and update this information. Yet, improving customer service – even if it’s already good – can significantly elevate professional services companies against the competition and make the difference from being “OK” to “outstanding”.
The role of technology in Professional Services
Technology has the potential to play a starring role in this type of transformation. Yet, many have thus far steered clear of implementing enterprise systems that would enable this sort of change. Traditional ERP solutions are often discounted (and rightly so) by companies wary of both the cost and the upheaval the implementation may cause. The outcome of this reluctance to change is a large number of businesses with a disparate array of outdated systems, departments drowning in Excel spreadsheets, outdated operational processes and management completely unable to get an overall view of company progress through a lack of any form of reliable reporting.
As the growing list of requirements and challenges set by clients in the marketplace has changed and evolved, the possibilities available from cloud computing technology have gone from strength to strength to meet the demands of both clients and the firms supporting them. Analyst firm IDC reports that cloud computing spending since 2009 is growing at 4.5 times the rate of IT spending and is expected to grow at better than six times the rate of IT spending through to 2020.(As reported by Forbes, see link)
The benefits of cloud solutions
For small to medium professional services firms, the Cloud is a great leveller from the perspective of making many functional elements affordable that would not be financially viable in a traditional on-premise solution. Cloud technology is also highly scalable - ideal for companies with rapid expansion planned but little known about the increments of growth. Cloud solutions have the benefit of being highly flexible in relation to access from a range of devices and locations. This functionality enables professionals working at a client site, at home or on the road, to securely access the system remotely, with the only requirement to continuing to be able to provide real-time information being an internet connection.
Cloud-based ERP products such as SAP Business ByDesign solution have been developed over the last ten years to include functionality tailored for professional services firms. SAP Business ByDesign enables professional services firms to bring all their information together, including sales, project management, HR and finance into one central and easily accessible solution. SAP Business ByDesign is also unique in the marketplace for offering interconnection between the implemented modules as standard, thus ending silo-based information that prevents a fully-rounded picture of the business. Users have a clear view of quotes, conversions, invoicing and current project status, making it easier to manage the entire project lifecycle, from first contact to billing and payment.
This overall business view enables senior managers to focus on specific areas and drive performance levels in line with business objectives and KPIs. Because the data is accurate, current and integrated, it can be analysed to predict trends and help strategic decision making. SAP Business ByDesign’s reporting suite utilises all the data in the system as required and the standard reports included can also be easily customised to meet specific reporting requirements.
These latest software versions are also designed to be flexible – subscription user-based pricing gives business a scalable, predictable TCO and the included cloud hosting removes the costs and maintenance associated with hosting a traditional ERP solution.
Working with Edenhouse
It’s worth highlighting that to get the most out of any cloud-based SAP solution, businesses can benefit from working in partnership with an SAP consultancy providing fully integrated end-to-end business solutions and support services.
Edenhouse offers consultancy and implementation services and the cloud implementation methodology harnesses years of delivery experience alongside SAP best practice implementation guidelines to give a quality-driven, rapid and business aligned implementation.
The availability of high-quality consultancy service and support of this kind highlights the fact that the opportunity to gain a competitive edge is still open for professional services organisations. Acting now, when software vendors are focusing their offerings on companies the size of a typical professional services firm and the best SAP consultants have built their experience and developed best practices, makes perfect sense.