The best professional services organizations have a clear strategy, with well synchronized teams, operating in a coordinated and collaborative environment. Yet, the majority of professional services organizations struggle to align their underlying systems and processes to support their strategies and truly create a collaborative workplace.
Alignment is difficult for most firms because they have deployed a patchwork of software applications for sales, professional services management, billing, time & expense and accounting. These systems often have different architectures and databases. Some are based on-premises, some are in the cloud and some may even sit on a desktop computer. In this environment each system can become its own information silo despite the best efforts of users to bridge the gaps with spreadsheets and manual workarounds, to make business processes and information flow from one system to another. Employees respond with huge volumes of email, conference calls and texts to fill in the gaps. “Collaboration” is conducted by yet another conference call or a long email thread to discuss the status of a project or to find out why a client hasn’t paid a bill.
While a fragmented approach may work for smaller services organizations, it can cause several problems, especially as you attempt to scale, including:
The impact of a siloed approach on utilization and profitability was exposed in a recent study by Services Performance Research titled: The 2011 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark. The authors surveyed 210 professional services organizations and analyzed firms against a maturity model which included metrics to measure the value of systems integration and real-time visibility. In the study, companies with integrated CRM and PSA systems reported higher bid/win ratios, higher project margins, higher utilization and higher revenue per billable consultant.
Extended real-time visibility is only attained through application integration... Those organizations that stated they either had complete or much real-time visibility into their operations showed significant productivity and profitability gains.
- The 2011 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark
The value gained by the companies reporting higher visibility was staggering:
It is clear that an integrated approach, with visibility across sales, services and accounting functions can deliver strategic advantages. To learn more - get the SPI benchmark survey.
FinancialForce Services Resource Planning (SRP) is an end to end solution for professional services organizations encompassing sales, the hand-off from sales to services, resource management, project & portfolio management, accounting, billing and more. All of this built on the number one cloud platform in the world, Salesforce Platform. It is designed to solve and overcome the obstacles found in a siloed or fragmented systems approach. For instance, the applications all share the same user interface, same user login, same master records and same database. All users benefit from the same array of tools available on the Salesforce Platform including reporting and dashboard facilities, workflow, integration technologies, easy customization, mobile device support and more.
The CRM, PSA and Accounting applications are all embedded as one in the Salesforce application environment. This enables seamless process integration across departments and 360° views of customers, projects and resources from a single information source. The result is a solution that keeps everyone in your organization on the same page, as one team, on one system. The system is complimented by salesforce.com’s Chatter, a social media application that allows you to collaborate across the organization on projects, customer situations, new opportunities and more. Chatter delivers Facebook-like functions to a project setting.
© Copyright 2013 FinancialForce.com