Like most industry sectors right now, professional services companies are dealing with a fair number of business challenges—some of which barely existed just 3-4 years ago. Operating in a $6.4 billion market that’s posting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6%, these companies are called upon for a wide range of services, including research, design, consulting services, legal services, accounting services and more.
While the opportunities to tap into new markets are vast for professional services firms, the industry is also facing some headwinds right now. Highly reliant on labor, for example, professional services companies are dealing with the ongoing labor shortage and turning to more technology and automation for help. Other stressors include the uncertain economic environment, changing customer requirements and, for certain sub-sectors, extremely high levels of competition.
Professional services firms also have to commit to a certain level of continuous improvement, especially when it comes to training team members on new skills and competencies. Through a blend of sophistication and agility, professional services firms can both tackle the “now” and start planning for success in the future.
Addressing Key Pain Points
Some of the biggest issues keeping professional services leaders up at night right now include inaccurate, unreliable data that doesn’t support good decision-making; the constant push to improve resource management and utilization; and the fact that spreadsheets and legacy systems struggle to accurately present cash flows and other financial data across the organization. Forced to resort to spreadsheets for information-sharing, for example, professional services firms can quickly find themselves in the “red” on projects that were expected to be profitable.
With the national unemployment rate now at 53-year lows, labor availability is another pain point for professional services firms. To make better use of their existing labor resources while leveraging technology as a tool, more companies are automating processes that would otherwise have to be handled manually. This not only ensures higher levels of accuracy and speeds up the process, but it also allows valued team members to focus on more important projects and clients.
7 Reasons for Professional Services Firms to Move to NetSuite
As a professional services firm itself, NetSuite Solution Provider and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partner, ScaleNorth, fully understands the challenges and opportunities that organizations are facing in today’s marketplace. As a long-time NetSuite Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) user, we also know precisely which of the platform’s functionalities address professional services firms’ biggest challenges.
Here are the top seven reasons NetSuite is the right fit for professional services businesses:
- End-to-end Professional Services Automation (PSA). NetSuite’s PSA, SuiteProjects, supports an entire services business with a single, cloud-based suite. From project and resource management to time and expense tracking, project accounting and billing and invoicing, SuiteProjects helps organizations complete projects quickly and profitably, generate invoices accurately and efficiently and shrink accounts receivable cycles.
- On-time project delivery. With NetSuite, team members can easily collaborate on projects, track project status, know when it’s their turn to contribute and proactively identify and avoid delays and other problems. The Services Resource Planning functionality gives you complete control over your people and supplies so you can more accurately schedule and utilize human capital and resources.
- Accurate project billing and accounting. As a single source of truth, NetSuite provides unparalleled visibility over project expenses and allows quick corrections as needed. The ERP connects project activities with company financials to ensure accurate accounting and billing across the entire project lifecycle.
- Native ERP functionalities & customized options. Right out of the box, NetSuite will help professional services firms manage their project records and cases. Going a step further, ScaleNorth can help firms with customizations like business process area (BPA) mapping and data tagging; the assigning of case tasks to native cases; automated weekly report dashboards; Lucid Chart I-Frame Integration; and customized time entry and time/utilization reporting for more granular data elements (e.g., cases and case tasks).
- Mobile Functionality. NetSuite is mobile friendly, meaning you can access your data anytime, from anywhere in the world utilizing your mobile web browser or the NetSuite app.
- A match made in heaven. At ScaleNorth, we run our entire professional services business on NetSuite, including project management, marketing, sales, human resources (HR), client billing, accounting, scheduling and client communication. On the project/people management side of things, we’ve built out project management customizations in NetSuite for tracking projects, assigning staff and staying on top of scheduling. We’ve also created a custom status report dashboard with automated circulation, effectively automating the sales-to-delivery hand-off process and checklist within NetSuite.
- Accelerators to help further optimize NetSuite. ScaleNorth also provides a variety of NetSuite accelerators that help professional services firms optimize their investments in NetSuite. Here are a few of the most popular accelerators that we offer:
- Dunning – ScaleNorth’s version of NetSuite’s automated and configurable dunning solution
- ScalePay – integration with credit card processors and card readers with NetSuite
- In-House PTO Tracker – a customized PTO Tracking portal for submission, approval, tracking and reporting PTO requests
- Multiple variations of approval workflows/solutions
- Advanced PDFs (from simple to very complex)
- Batch script customization for scheduled bulk load processing
Ready, Set, Go
ScaleNorth has also customized NetSuite Project Management in a way that allows it to track all project activities. For example, we track all phases of our implementation and have created tasks and case tasks that help consultants understand what steps need to be taken (and in what order). Using automated dashboards, we provide excellent project and task visibility—both for ourselves and for our professional services customers.
Managing a successful, profitable professional services firm has never been easy, but it has become more difficult over the last few years. The good news is that with the right ERP platform and implementation partner on your side, you’ll be able to position your firm for success now—and well into the future.