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How can the issues around outdated & disconnected business systems be resolved for professional services organisations?

It goes without saying but we have witnessed many significant changes in both the UK economy and the professional services sector over the years.  For those firms that have taken advantage of the shift towards knowledge-based services have gained the valuable rewards of doing so. 

However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing in gearing up to keep up with the ever-changing client requirements, some of these firms have lost sight of their very own infrastructure and processes.  With this rapidly changing and competitive sector, the overall efficiency and agility of firms has become even more important. 

This has been the case with a number of professional services firms who have been so caught up with meeting customer demand for their services that they haven’t had the capability or resources in place to be able to expand and modernise their operations. 

Systems don’t evolve but your competitors do 

One of the toughest challenges facing many professional services firms in the modern world is being able to easily have both the visibility and control over their projects and finances. In the past, separate systems have been used for each individual project. However, these are highly labour intensive, involve a heavy investment in spreadsheet data entry & moving data from one place to another. With this in place, it doesn’t come as a surprise that is often takes time and decreases the accuracy to be able to report on both project and business performance. 

You will also find that having these disjointed systems in place don’t help your employees either. The complications with trying to get all these different systems and data to work together in unison can often mean labour intensive admin that moves people away from much more profitable activities. 

With the world changing quickly, firms need to react fast and effectively 

The main issues that professional services organisations face is the fact that they need to be able to adapt and become much more responsive. This requires them to have the capability to report in real time on both project billing as well as projects that are in progress, to maintain accurate customer invoicing & to make sure that projects can be easily tracked. Combined, all this data will be streamlined in the finance system to enable your business to have a much more accurate performance insight as well as forecasting. 

In an ideal world, professional services organisations want to spend more time on chargeable work and reduce the admin time. However, this objective cannot be met with manual systems and processes as not only are they tricky to use but they also may not be able to record chargeable activities. This will lead to inaccurate billing which means that money will be lost. 

Do you know how many of your financial processes require manual input? 

It is often the case that most professional services firms aren’t able to produce or review crucial key performance indicators at the click of a button. This means that accurate decisions based on data can’t be made which may result in poorer business performance. It makes it even more challenging to be able to put together a strategy without a completely accurate picture of the finances. 

Furthermore, it is often the case where these organisations are using a project management tool and a separate financial management system which means that they are doubling their costs. It is difficult to demonstrate the costs incurred by inefficiency and a lack of integration. This means that your employees will waste time on data collection, manipulation as well as rekeying to maintain the bare minimum standard of record keeping and reporting of information. 

You can win the jackpot with an all-in-one cloud-based finance and project management system 

In order to achieve the above outcome, there a single cloud-based solution that is available for professional services organisations. It is called Dynamics 365 Business Central that helps your business to align financial management with extensive functionality for project and resource management (PSA developed by Unit4). This allows you to bring people, processes and finances together, end-to-end to enable you to have full control and visibility over both your projects, financials and business management. 

Therefore, when you bring both your systems together into one, professional services organisations can have a complete visibility over their financial data. Furthermore, processes will be streamlined, time saved and manual input reduced, meaning that your staff can focus their efforts on money making activities. 

In addition to the above, directors and project managers will be able to have a better representation and control over their projects as well as financials to help paint a picture of their overall business performance. This will make it much simpler to understand and plot results as well as cashflow. Moreover, you will also have much more accurate records, reminders and billing which combined will help to improve the overall customer experience. By using Business Central & PSA you will improve you overall efficiency, productivity as well as employee satisfaction. 

Adopting this finance management system makes perfect business sense 

By choosing to implement one of Microsoft’s premier finance systems will mean that professional services organisations who already make use of other Microsoft products such as Office 365 will generate even more value for the business as they both work in unison with each other. Furthermore, as this solution is hosted in the cloud you will be able to access it on the go, from any device. 

Next Steps? 

When getting ready for a new project, it can often be a challenge to the find the right type of partner to work with on a project. Here at Advantage, we’re a Microsoft Gold partner with over 20 years experience implementing cloud-based solutions around Dynamics 365. Furthermore, given our understanding of the challenges facing professional services organisations and our partnership with Unit4, we feel that we are in the best possible position to help your business to improve your overall efficiency and automate processes. Please get in touch with our Business Central experts today to discuss your specific requirements. 

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