Whether it’s improving utilization, hiring more staff, growing your client roster, or anything else, you probably want to improve some aspect of your business, no matter how well you’re currently doing.
Of course, achieving these business goals will also require a lot of hard work. A key method to making your efforts a little less labor-intensive is to develop repeatable processes.
Defined processes that can easily be replicated allow you to streamline communication, delegate effectively, and—increasingly in this day and age—automate. Only after taking these steps can you truly improve your services and realize your goals in a scalable manner.
The Value of Standardization
The idea that rules and procedures are helpful sounds like a truism, but it’s worth highlighting since it can be extremely challenging to adopt and adhere to them.
Across the board, services businesses struggle to have set processes. 31.2 percent of IT consultancies don’t have standardized project management methods, while 32.3 percent of architecture and engineering firms lack them. Surprisingly, management consultancies have an even harder time, with 34.6 percent of them lacking such standardization.
The value of these processes, though, is immense. Companies that use standardized project delivery procedures for the 80% or more of their projects have $19,000 more in revenue per employee compared to businesses that use these processes 20 percent of the time or less.
While these statistics speak to project management methods in particular, the importance of defined procedures applies across the board, including in areas like time management, billing, client communication, and business analysis. Joe Woodard, the accounting guru and CEO of Woodard Events, holds that standardization is vital to “create a consistency of client delivery systems, reduce the impact of employee turnover, and convert the collective knowledge of employees to firm-managed intellectual capital.”
This standardization paves the way for automation, which is essential for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in this on-demand world.
After your firm has adopted predictable routines for communicating, servicing clients, executing projects, and so on, you can now let automation do the work for you.
The dedicated software platforms that are designed to do exactly this go by several names, including professional services automation (PSA), practice management, project accounting, business management, and more. The specific features of each solution will vary, but they typically help you perfect your invoicing, accounting, time and expense tracking, project management, and reporting. These tools offer convenient automations to take hours off of processes with functionalities like automatic time tracking, smart data entry fields, scheduled reporting, and automated invoicing.
Your peers recognize the significance of this: According to BQE's survey data, 30.1% of professionals say that "automating repetitive tasks" is the most important capability for them when it comes to billing. Meanwhile, 86% of respondents to a Smartsheet survey believe that automation makes employees more efficient and productive.
They're right! BQE has found that simply automating the data flow between project management and invoicing functions saves 10% of an employee's time. That's about 5 work weeks a year! On a wider scale, with PSA software, businesses increase their percentage of on-time and on-budget projects by 12%, and grow staff utilization by 9%. Even more impressively, project margins jump up by 45%, while revenue leakage goes down by 50%.
The Bottom Line
If you’re going to efficiently and effectively help your clients, you need standardized processes and software that streamlines them. Capgemini reports that 64% of organizations that have implemented intelligent automation have seen client satisfaction increase by over 60%. In the face of numbers like this, it's clear that an upgrade is well worth it.