If you work in professional services, you’ve probably heard about workflow automation software before. In fact, you likely have the hazy, inexplicit feeling that, even though you’re not entirely sure how automation would affect your own business processes, your organization really should be using one.
In fact, a 2019 report from Service Performance Insight — a global research and consulting organization that studies the professional services industry — found that companies using professional services automation tools decrease project lengths, increase billable hours, and enjoy higher margins.
Still not convinced? Here are a few ways in which automation helps professional service organizations do more in less time.
A central database
With automation, you can store all data in a central, interactive system, making tracking performance easier and more precise. For instance, by keeping your revenue and cost data in a central location, forecasting is made easier across the entire organization.
Keeping deliverables in that very same system not only keeps a clear picture of what each project requires of you, it also lets you measure this data against project costs, giving you a measure of your organization’s productivity. Rich reports can be pulled from this data, comparing margins and productivity measures between managers, clients, project attributes, and more.
Time and distance overcome
In a global world, it’s inevitable that you’ll work at some point with clients overseas. The best automation tools come standard with features that facilitate international collaboration, including features that remind client-facing staff when to follow up with and forward relevant forms to clients that may be in a different time zone.
Workflow automation tools can even integrate with accounting systems like Intacct to manage multiple currencies, calculate local tax rates, account for conversion rates, and much more.
Once everyone is trained on and using the same system, maternity leaves and flu seasons never stall projects. Consultants can take over for one another when someone has to be out, and they can switch between projects because workflows have been standardized across the entire company.
Managers at professional service organizations need to make quick decisions based on constantly updated, real-time information. When companies don’t have the tools to get the latest information in their field, their decision-making suffers. This is bad for employees and for clients. But workflow automation tools can be integrated with business analytics, and reporting tools like Dynamics 365 Business Central eliminate this risk entirely. Reporting can be custom-made to update the industry indicators most pertinent to any account or project.
Because every process and transaction is tracked and documented in an automated system, there are never questions about who did what or when this or that occurred. Any audit process — client complaints, employee reviews, payment disputes, and more — become infinitely easier. And it’s not just for the negative stuff either; you can use these trails to study your organization’s wins as well, learning what worked on successful projects to develop and duplicate best practices for the future. Having verifiable, detailed documentation of everything assures you learn the right lessons every time.
Administrative costs plummet when companies switch from manual tracking and data processing to automated workflows. These aren’t just cost savings though. Eliminating these rote and redundant tasks also frees up time your team can dedicate to more important things. Once information is captured a single time, it can be digitally manipulated or duplicated into other parts of the system when needed. This way, every hour worked is billable.
Workflow automation helps professional service providers work more productively and efficiently while saving time and money, and it arms managers with detailed, useful information with up-to-the-minute precision. For an even more detailed view of how automation can improve your organizational workflow, contact PaperSave today.