Is your auditing or consulting firm thinking about rolling out management software? You're excited just thinking about it. In theory, it's a smart move: your management tools are seriously out of date and they don't work for you. However, ERP implementation involves shaking up your well-established setup, turning your schedules upside down (and inside out), investing in a long-term project and, last but not least, getting your staff on board. Work through the advantages and disadvantages to find out if your company could benefit from a specialized software.
Diagnosis: the symptoms you should look out for
When it comes to management issues, the warning signs are pretty clear. A quick check-up will show you if your organisation needs ERP treatment. Read on to find out what the signs and symptoms are.
Outdated software that does little for your business
Your tools work (more or less), but there are too many of them and they don't work together. What’s more, your staff have to repeatedly enter data, which is a huge waste of time for everybody. On top of that, you're still using endless Excel spreadsheets, which used to do the job once upon a time but now these tools have reached their limit in terms of data entry, collaborative working (or lack thereof), data loss and loading time, among other things.
Perhaps you already have an ERP solution. A dinosaur from the 90s, as flexible as a slab of concrete and as scalable as a dial phone. A program developed by one of your in-house engineers or heavily restricted software created by one of the market giants. In short, you have an ostensibly generalist tool that’s ill-adapted to your business processes and can't keep pace with your company's growth.
Overworked staff and mounting mistakes
Your staff are on edge. They waste time on paltry tasks (time logs, expense reports, schedules, etc.) and they are always traveling, which complicates matters further because your ERP solution doesn't work on the go. The mistakes are mounting up and you have to hunt them down to correct them. The snag is that your dogeared tools aren't flexible enough to help your staff solve these problems, so the mistakes logically start to stack up.
It’s the same for your management and HR teams. Data processing is time-consuming and even the simplest of tasks take an age. Working out annual leave or drawing up customer bills takes a lot of heavy lifting. And we haven't even mentioned the risks inherent to some services (flat fees, monthly invoicing or service centres) that you have to watch very closely. An invoice overlooked here, or a days consultancy missed there – small blunders snowball into big problems.
All these symptoms, even the inconspicuous ones, have a significant impact on your costs. At worst, they show poor control. At worse, they get out of hand and need writing off. This downward spiral is due to tiny, haphazard mistakes in your day-to-day management and in the costs of maintaining your general ERP solution or your collection of assorted tools.
Time for a check-up
Are these problems happening every day? If so, it's time to think about how useful your tools really are. With time, you've learnt to work with what you have. After all, when these tools were set up, you didn't really have a choice.
But specialized ERP tools designed specifically for professional services companies have come on leaps and bounds since then. Today, management software can even change as your company does, offering ongoing developments and incremental improvements. In short, you no longer need your old, heavy plant equipment.
Now you've thought about all the niggles affecting your company's performance, ask yourself this question: how could a specific management software help solve your problems? In other words, what characteristics would the right tool for your company have? There are many answers.
- Modern: a tool that moves with the times and integrates the latest technical innovations
- Flexible: a tool that changes to suit your needs
- Reliable: you never have to wonder whether the program will run when you get to the office
- Easy to access: online, mobile SaaS that updates when it suits you
- Secure: a tool that locks up sensitive data and manages your entire toolkit (especially for BYOD when staff use their own tools for work)
- Effective: a tool that can oversee your entire business (multi-company management as well) and can optimise your processes
- Supportive: a tool that streamlines your business's practices and encourages better communication among staff and departments
- Unique: one package that brings together all of the features your company needs to operate, no matter who uses it: consultants (to record their tasks), managers (to oversee projects), sales team (to identify new prospects and manage contracts), management teams (to send invoices and look after HR issues) and partners (to maintain an overall view of the company)
In short, you need a tool designed specifically for your professional services company, one that solves your problems and puts you back on the right path.
The treatment: choose a management software made for a professional services company
Here's your step-by-step guide.
1/ For your company’s overall management
By bringing together all your firm's rules, programs and processes, an ERP solution will help you manage your activities more effectively. You can standardise your in-house processes, automate specific tasks to save time and manage the production rate, all using just one tool. An ERP solution also ensures more effective HR management, especially through a document management system (DMS) – this knowledge bank then helps new arrivals integrate better and quicker.
2/ For your staff
By using a specific ERP solution, your staff will save time – a lot of time. The internal management module will help them complete their expense reports, submit their holiday requests and enter their reports in a one fuss-free tool. What used to take them several minutes with the "help" of a few mismatched Excel files, will now take a few clicks. And your staff working out of the office can use a collaborative, mobile tool that will keep them fully connected, no matter where they are.
3/ For your management team
Your management team has easy access to all the data your staff enter. That pretty much cuts the risk of error to zero: invoicing is almost completely automated for all types of services (on-site, flat rate, capped rates, service centres, etc.) and no one will forget to enter a day's work. What’s more, this tool can closely monitor consultancy jobs, both ongoing and planned.
4/ For a healthy outlook
It's important that your new ERP solution works for you now. But it's more important that it works for you in the future. Management software gives you an overall view of your business, your expenses and your needs in the long term.
Forecasting projects will mean that you can allocate the right number of consultants to each job and estimate the workload of each new contract you sign, now and in the future. Using a single SaaS will also keep cutting your maintenance costs.
Last but not least, a specialist and scalable ERP solution will support your company's growth, leaving your administrative resources untouched – and leaving you to focus your full attention on expanding your company.