The services industry exists in one of the most demanding and dynamic landscapes. Due to the variety of services offered, one of the main challenges for service providers is to communicate real value and deliver high quality services on time and on budget, whilst trying to keep their customers happy, or, even better, amazed. In this context, it’s important to understand the impact of a business management (ERP) solution in helping professional services organisations increase their project management capabilities in a profitable way.
But why should services providers adapt to the rapid changes in the industry and find innovative ways to exploit technology?
In such a positive period for the UK services sector, which has made a strong start to 2015, growing faster than expected in January according to the Markit/CIPS PMI survey, it’s crucial for service providers to differentiate themselves. In a sector in which competition is high and there is no physical evidence to distinguish one service from another, every single detail, from the evaluation stage to service consumption, will make a difference. For this reason professional services operators need to provide a flawless customer experience and continually identify areas for improvement. However, this may not be enough anymore: businesses need to set themselves apart from the competition by delivering the ‘surprise factor’, where all the elements that make up the service conception and delivery, can delight customers and, therefore, retain them. Instead of competing on price, businesses should compete on service and offer strategic advice and service, delivered through accurate and detailed information and well-planned projects. Whether they are accountants, lawyers, architects or consultants, service providers need to acknowledge that technology is the key to long-term growth.
The challenges in the services industry: how can ERP solutions help?
Service providers need to be fully connected and continuously track their service performance, making sure quality is consistent across different functions and over time.
Time consuming manual tasks, lack of centralised data and insufficient communication within the company and between company and clients, inadequate allocation of resources and weak forecasting: all these factors contribute to slow down businesses operations and increase bottlenecks. Of course this results in customer dissatisfaction, and impacts on profitability and word-of-mouth in a niche industry.
So, what can services do to face these industry challenges? Investing in technology is the answer. A business management or ERP solution offers management a single and integrated view of the organisation that allows them to efficiently manage projects, from customer quotes to after sales support. In such a collaborative environment the importance of the exchange and the storage of information is undeniable. This is where the cloud supports businesses, especially for SMEs and smaller practices.
The benefits of using an integrated system are endless: service providers will be able to monitor their service level agreements (SLA), adapt to changing legislative requirements in certain sectors, uncover new sales opportunities, adjust projects according to real-time information and increase collaboration and communication between teams.
Increased visibility and a global view of the business enhances productivity and simplifies operations: employees are empowered and can easily optimise scheduling and planning of activities, efficiently manage daily workflows, better forecast workload and speed up financial transactions and invoicing processes to help with cash flow management.
With the support of a strong business management solution, service providers are empowered to deliver unique customer experiences, demonstrating the real and unique value of their offering and building an unrivalled customer trust.
With such a long list of pros, if you aim at paving the way for more sustainable growth, you can no longer overlook technologies such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Dynamics CRM. The consequences of technological underinvestment, or the so called technological debt, can be enormous. Similarly, to fully exploit IT systems, adequate employees training is imperative to yield positive results; yet, in some businesses such as law firms, lack of education about technology and old school attitudes still hampers productivity.
Investing, investing and investing. That’s the secret to go the extra mile for your clients.
Regardless the size of your business and the complexity of your activities, such solutions can maximise your capabilities and improve your processes. For example, a specific solution such as Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 can help you to manage your global operations and expand into new markets.