The professional services industry, like so many others, has seen its working practices transformed over the past 18 months. Videoconferencing, remote collaboration tools, cloud-based software– all have been integral to keeping the sector afloat, and look likely to be core parts of whatever the so-called ‘new normal’ looks like.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems may have received slightly less attention, but the value they can drive for professional services businesses is just as impressive. And now, with business from accountants to law firms, management consultants to marketing companies, all scrambling to position themselves as competitively as possibly in the post-COVID landscape, it is the perfect time to examine the benefits that an ERP system can introduce.
Here are just some of the ways in which ERP systems drive tangible value in professional services:
Enhancing the customer experience
‘The customer is always right’, the mantra goes, and that is as true for businesses which sell services as it is for those which sell physical products. ERP systems can enable professional services companies to really get under the bonnet of their customer relationships, by offering a single window of visibility into all interactions, providing a centralised platform for running sales and marketing campaigns, and dramatically streamlining account management. In turn, this can enable smoother opportunities for cross- and up-selling between teams or departments, ensure that potential problems are identified and rectified proactively, and ultimately keep customers feeling like the number one priority – as they should.
Streamlining human resource management
For most service-driven businesses, flexibility and adaptability is key. Teams need to be restructured and reassigned to projects week by week and month by month; functions need to be scaled up and down as customers require. ERP systems make all of this human resource management far easier, in several ways. First, they offer simple visibility into all of that resource, on an individual, team and project level. Second, they typically enable multiple or all users to make changes with little cost and disruption, meaning there is less need to reconfigure software architecture in line with short or long-term human resource changes.
Rapidly responding to the wider landscape
Professional services businesses need to be able to adapt quickly and comprehensively to broader changes in their landscape, particularly legal and regulatory changes. In some cases, these require wholescale alterations to business processes and entirely new forms of documentation. ERP systems make it far quicker and easier to roll out such changes throughout the entire organisation, with high degrees of automation and fewer errors. The upshot is a fast-moving and accurate business, with real competitive edge.
Accurate and thorough financial reporting
Visibility and clarity over the financials is vital for any business, but can be a particular challenge for professional services organisations running a range of different client models and again, selling services rather than physical goods. ERP systems which integrate seamlessly with modern accounting software can bring visibility and clarity to the finances of even the most sprawling and complex professional services operation.
Increasing automation and improving efficiency
Automation can seem like something which belongs on a factory production line, but there are myriad opportunities for removing manual processes in professional services businesses too. From the transfer of data from one system to another, to the generation of a project status, to the identification of risks and potential problems, ERP systems can automate countless complex or tedious manual processes with the average business. In turn, this speeds up operations, reduces errors, and frees up human resource to concentrate on more strategic, complex or creative tasks.
These are just a handful of the ways in which ERP systems can drive benefit in the professional services sector. For more ideas – and to explore implementing an ERP system in your own organisation – get in touch with us today.