Best practices have emerged as the next game-changer in the post-crisis business era. Those best able to collect business data and take due action based on real-time facts will have a vital edge in today’s business world. In 2011 it’s not enough to have a skilled workforce. Today a professional services company must be run with surgical precision to stay ahead of the competition.
In a competitive business world, the era of high gross margins and vague invoices charging clients for unverifiable services is long gone. There are no indications that things will return to normal anytime soon. This is the new normal.
Time to take the lead
Most professional services companies have already cut their operations to a minimum. There are no more people to lay off, no more fat to trim. However, executives in these companies – including consulting firms, agencies, accounting firms, and law firms – still have untapped potential for additional optimisation.
It’s time for them to take the lead and drive their businesses forward by implementing the best practices of their respective industries.
In short, these businesses need to deploy an industry-targeted business solution to further streamline their operations. An industry executive I met recently put it well: “Success in our industry is no longer only about our profession. It’s about running a business, too.” That change has crept in gradually over the last decade but was accelerated by the recent global financial crisis, increased globalisation and ever-tighter regulation.
Professional services companies are facing mounting pressure on client and project profitability, cash flow efficiency, and client demand for full transparency into every hour billed. This requires a new level of control and up-to-the-minute, fact-based decision-making. This, in turn, drives the need for advanced technology developed on the basis of the best-practice processes of your industry. When you know more about your business, you can do more with your business.
Adjusting to the realities
Large professional services companies urgently need to adjust to the realities of the new normal. Even if you have the best people on board, you still need to prove their value to your clients by accurate billing. Not only do clients pay less money for the same services, they also demand that you keep track of every minute they pay for.
If you run a large professional services company and you don’t have a proper time capture solution, you are either jeopardising client relations or wasting precious billable hours. Clients will not accept overcharging or inaccuracies in the services they pay for. And if your employees do not register their time accurately on a daily basis, you will not be able to bill all services delivered to clients.
Either way, the lack of an accurate time capture solution will cost your business dearly. The only way to keep your clients happy and reap the full benefits of your deliverables is to implement best practices for time capture throughout the organisation.
It’s all about industry focus. It does not make sense for a large consulting firm to implement a business solution based on general business workflows. Professional services companies are increasingly turning their back on this one-size-fits-all approach in favor of solutions designed specifically for their industries.