Successful pitching and project delivery with Dynamics 365

May 11, 2023
  • professional services
  • Microsoft

With the impact of the Great Resignation, Brexit and a raft of more experienced workers reaching retirement age, significant skills shortages across the UK’s consulting and professional services sector remain high.

Delaware UK's Microsoft Practice Lead, Tim Rowe, describes how enterprises can streamline the process of winning and retaining new business.

 

Firms often find it difficult to hang onto staff for long periods and then struggle to fill gaps when they do arise. 83% of professional services firms surveyed for recent British Chambers of Commerce research said they faced challenges when recruiting.

The knock-on effect is that many of these businesses are finding efficient resource management difficult to achieve. According to “Challenges and priorities impacting Professional Services in 2023”, a recent survey by The Access Group, 40% of respondents said having real-time insights on aspects such as resource utilisation or project WIP (work in progress) would enable them to be more efficient and run their teams more effectively.

The problem is especially acute when it comes to new projects and pitches.  Most of these organisations find it challenging, for example, to match demand with supply across the entire workforce, and therefore to staff new engagements quickly and efficiently.

That’s a major problem in the project delivery phase, of course, but it starts even earlier than that at the very outset of the pitch process.

Why collaboration is the key

One of the challenges here for consultants, especially given limited resources and staff working remotely, is getting the right people together quickly to collaborate effectively in order to optimise the lead opportunity process and secure new accounts.

In short, they need to better optimise their allocation of resources across every new business proposal they are shortlisted for. It is important that they make it work. Doing it right is, after all, likely to be the difference between securing a new account for the firm, and failing at another pitch.

Beyond this, though, once a project or prospective new client has been converted, consultancies also need to ensure that they are optimising the value of every account they hold and every engagement across that account, making certain projects remain on track and are hitting agreed milestones, for example, while also helping ensure project teams keep on track with projected fee forecasts.

Finding a way forward

The good news here is we are seeing solutions increasingly coming on stream that are capable of resolving these challenges. These typically include modern workplace tools, such as Microsoft Office, for example, or collaborative platforms, like Microsoft Teams.

With technology such as this in place, firms can use their capability not just to drive collaboration between pitch team members that ultimately helps win new business but also once the business is won, standardise the way they engage with clients and produce compelling deliverables that support high client retention rates over time.

This whole professional services engagement process can then be supported by the latest analytics tools which provide real-time data to project teams in a way that is visually engaging and that both helps the business drive insights and ultimately assists it in making better decisions. Embedded analytics across the business can help enable self-service in real-time.

Consultants can access the tools to customise dashboards to quickly and easily report on what is important for their business and teams as projects roll out. They can get end-to-end visibility through alerts and dashboards which give them a holistic view across projects.

It is also worth highlighting that agility is key in the world of professional services. Resource management tools should be able to add and remove users quickly and easily as project or pitch teams change over time.

Solutions should also be able to enable team leaders, supervisors and managers, and indeed team members as well to easily manage tasks, assign activities and track how they are doing versus the plan.

Timesheet and expense management is important too. In this context, it is key that firms have access to solutions that enable users to track and submit time and expenses on the go to ensure resources are being used wisely and projects keep to budget.

This flexibility should, however, should also be backed up by dashboards that enable quick and easy monitoring of teams and trends and help managers to identify issues.

Building the modern workplace

All of this capability feeds into what we like to term the modern workplace. Consultancy companies increasingly like to leverage the principles of the approach to help build what we at Delaware call ‘employee work hubs.

These are effectively business app-driven digital workplaces, providing a single point of entry to access company communication, collaborative workspaces, knowledge, services and tools.

Collaborative software solutions like Microsoft Teams can sit at the heart of this approach, enabling every member of a pitch or project team to engage with their colleagues or fellow team members, collaborate with them, execute work, receive support and access employee services.

Armed with these capabilities, professional services firms are well placed to meet the ongoing challenges they face around skills shortages and difficulties with resource management.

With the right processes and capabilities in place, they can build close and interactive working environments and drive the efficiencies they need to win pitches and deliver successful projects.

Find out how you can accelerate your business with Delaware.

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