Why digitalisation is a key factor of success for professional services firms
Professional services firms are beginning to realise that no industry is immune to digital disruption, yet many still depending on manual, rigid and disconnected processes to manage their businesses.
Digitalisation means a transformation and improvement of your entire business by leveraging technology and implementing streamlined or automated processes in order to improve an organisation’s efficiency, whether its customer satisfaction and retention, real-time analytics and reporting or resource management. Thanks to digitalisation, professional services firms can increase their revenue by lowering transaction costs and gain total control of their operations by achieving one holistic view of the organisation.
Any organisation of any size can adapt their business operations in response to a rapidly changing environment, but where do they start?
There are numerous challenges that professional services firms have been facing due to the lack of digitalisation, and the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that harnessing new technologies and digitalising key areas of their businesses is crucial to becoming more agile and competitive.
We explore three key areas for professional services firms which are ripe for digitalisation.
Challenge 1 – Talent & resource management
Staffing of resources in line with the pipeline of work is widely known as a challenge for the Professional Services industry. Often there is a disconnection between the resources required for a project and the resources available in the organisation.
Resource management involves multiple interactions and manual searches among internal resources for staff with the required skills, and these interactions can take weeks for the resourcing to be agreed for a particular project, meaning that staffing challenges can run right up to, and sometimes into, the early stages of a project.
With new technology platforms we can build a “digital exhaust” of employees and contingent workers to bridge the opportunity and delivery capability gap by automatically offering visibility of staff with the right skills and availability across both internal and external resource pools – which are then proposed based on previous experience and validated through your talent supply processes.
Staff and workers build their profile as they perform their day-to-day activities, using keyword tagging and the databases of information stored in enterprise, learning and career systems. The technology can learn from the performance of old matches and keeps on learning to improve future searches, helping resource managers to find the best match in just one click.
Challenge 2 – Service Planning & execution
One of the biggest challenges for the industry is ensuring that the engagement is executed successfully and that the service proposals are delivered profitably. Many firms still rely on manual processes and with disparate systems and offline controls, can make delivery challenging and often leads to compromised outcomes in the project.
Building a competitive bid or proposal, pricing or quoting for complex services and tracking of project costs are all manual and time-consuming processes, and don’t offer businesses with a single view across their combined services and clients. With these kinds of processes in place, it is not possible for firms to have the edge when it comes to being innovative or agile.
Digitised project and estimation solutions allow you to automate bids and proposals based on intelligent identification of previous and similar projects – meaning proposals can be submit in days, not weeks. With solution intelligence, you can automatically score deals and rank them on their likelihood to close based on historic data.
Configure price quote processes allow complex solutions to be built into consolidated quotes, which allows digital service offerings to be produced quickly and accurately – and enables single invoices to be generated for all billing types - whether it be services, projects or products.
Finally, intelligent enterprises enable cost and revenue tracking in real-time, as transactions happen. With self-service functionality provides employees with the benefits of automated processes, like timesheets or expense approval.
Why are self-service and automation key to drive efficiency? Find out more here: ]
Challenge 3 – Financial forecasting
Delivering new insights into the decision-making process and enabling new questions to be asked is part of the evolving role of finance, but many businesses struggle to obtain a basic understanding of company performance. Information is obtained using out-of-date and manual processes and often without a single view or visibility across the enterprise. Period end and reconciliation processes are effort intensive and prone to error.
Spreadsheets are still used to keep track of resources, financial performance and productivity and which makes the conversation limited to static information and very difficult for the finance team to have a discussion or deal with ad-hoc questions that aren’t taken offline for further analysis.
Digital technologies have intelligence embedded into their processes. Having one centralised system with a universal journal means that reconciliation is not needed, and complex financial reporting processes are made significantly easier, meaning that your financial close processes are faster, efficient and compliant.
Intelligent project tracking provides early warning signals for projects in trouble or underperforming. The ability to track cost and profitability means that you can improve forecasting and make smarter decisions with real-time information and offers smarter insights into the performance of the business.
An opportunity to transform
By digitalising critical processes and areas of their businesses, professional services firms have an unprecedented opportunity to transform their business models, which enables them to better meet client expectations, gain a competitive advantage in the market, and in general, achieve success.
At delaware, we help professional services firms to achieve digitalisation by identifying the right applications, tools and processes that are best suited to your business model and to help you achieve your organisational goals.
Ready to discover the opportunities of digitalisation for your business? (Link to the FAST Professional service store page)
Emmanuel GARELLI Project Leader, AKKA Technologies