Accelerate Your Professional Services Business with Microsoft Power Platform

The Power Platform helps professional services firms improve service quality, manage projects, and package knowledge in creative, new ways.

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    Cloud-based ERPs like Dynamics 365 serve as the digital foundation for any modern business. Capture, organize, and unify all of your firm’s data in a single location — providing full visibility into core operations and accessible insights to all users.

    These benefits, while essential, are a far cry from anything considered “transformative.”

    See, any competitor or client that purchases the same solution has access to the same out-of-the-box features and canned reports. This makes it difficult to work with your data in ways that produce the proprietary solutions and insights that make a difference for your clients. And, in turn, there’s a real risk of commoditizing your services.

    Firms need to get really good at activating their data and manipulating in ways that generate measurable value — both for their clients and the business.

    Essential Guide for the Modern Professional Services FirmEssential Guide for the Modern Professional Services Firm

    The Power Platform helps professional services firms develop these critical capabilities and use them to improve service quality, manage projects and resources, and package and deliver expert knowledge in creative, new ways.

    In the next few sections, we’ll go over some of those possibilities and what they mean for firms.

    Power BI Helps Firms Get Way More Value from Critical Data

    For professional services orgs, Power BI is a real game-changer. The platform pulls data from a wide range of sources and surfaces patterns and correlations across sprawling data ecosystems.

    Personalized dashboards put insights in context with client needs and strategic objectives– allowing users to easily identify opportunities to optimize processes, make plans with future projects and cash flow projections in mind, and proactively make decisions with long-term impacts.

    Experts can combine data sets from internal and external sources and analyze them in different ways – allowing them to connect the dots between seemingly disparate data points and explore broader implications with clients. And, crucially, put them in context with real-world problems and pain points.

    For example, when we started working with Gorilla Glue, the company struggled to meet the demands of accelerating growth and stay in control of their data.

    Velosio experts helped the Gorilla Glue team ID opportunities for improving efficiency – which, in turn, allowed them to not only meet new demands but proactively drive growth. We’re currently helping them improve their shipping process so they systematically drive growth in the CPG distribution market.

    If you’re working with clients in a similar situation (i.e.: navigating uncertainty in a complex market), Power BI can help you measure the impact of proposed solutions before presenting them to clients. You can use visualizations to quantify the impact of action (or inaction).
    Or — work with predictive AI models to analyze solutions against different conditions or scenarios.

    Prevedere, a professional services company that specializes in predictive analytics and intelligent forecasting, built a solution using Power BI and Azure to help companies make proactive decisions. The BI solution combines business data with external insights about market trends, trade policies, the economy, and even things like climate change. As a result, clients can analyze the future impact of each action and respond to external factors before their competitors.

    Power Platform Brings Low-Code Learning & Development to Professional Services Firms

    We talked about this in another post that looked at the impact of technology on the pro services industry, but low-code development solutions like the Power Platform are gaining a ton of traction.

    This “trend” is a direct response to some of today’s biggest digital problems — most notably, the ongoing skills shortage and mounting pressure to increase agility and serve up relevant, personalized insights and services on-demand.

    According to a July 2022 Automation Anywhere report, over 60% of executives say that automation has helped their organization curb hiring gaps and tackle critical staffing shortages. Nearly all of those respondents said they believe that automation is essential to their digital transformation journey.

    It’s no surprise that investments are rising, with new challenges like the Great Resignation, inflation, and the looming threat of a recession creating new incentives for automation.

    Done right, automation helps firms quickly fill critical gaps and get more from human experts — without burning them out.

    However, it’s important to understand that this technology isn’t meant to outright replace human experts. Rather, automation is designed to augment and amplify their skills – allowing firms to do more using fewer resources.

    According to recent Microsoft research, 82% of low-code/no-code users say the tech helps them develop technical skills and deepen their software development knowledge, while 80% reported a positive impact on morale.

    Enabling the Modern Worker with the Microsoft PlatformEnabling the Modern Worker with the Microsoft Platform

    Analysts say that low-code platforms can support a strong learning and development that can help firms attract and retain talent – and ideally, upskill the workforce at the rapid pace of change (or, at least start narrowing that gap).

    The Power Platform enables fusion development – a collaborative process where subject matter experts and other non-technical employees work with IT to build apps, bots, websites, and automations that help them work smarter and better support clients and other stakeholders.

    We should be clear, these tools are “easy” and “accessible” compared to learning to code from scratch. Meaning, new users will likely need a good amount of training to become competent citizen developers.

    Build Niche Solutions for Niche Users and Niche Needs

    According to FT analysts, clients are moving away from large, jack-of-all-trades firms, and instead assembling teams of niche specialists to help them achieve different business goals.
    That increase in demand is splintering the pro services market — forcing incumbent firms to compete against each other in unfamiliar sectors — often at the client’s expense.

    The Power Platform allows firms to swoop in and fill these gaps and create specialized solutions and services that help clients tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities they’re facing today.

    One thing you can do is build reusable components or packages to address gaps in the Microsoft ecosystem. See, D365 apps are industry-agnostic and designed for flexibility and customization, you won’t find any niche-specific features out-of-the-box.

    At Velosio, we’ve put together industry-specific packages that address common requirements for each of the markets we serve.

    Within the professional services space, there’s Advanced Projects for Business Central, which adds advanced financials and project management capabilities missing from BC’s core lineup. Users gain access to more sophisticated budgeting, resource management, and reporting capabilities. There’s also a JIRA integration that simplifies time-tracking for developers, allowing them to record billable hours from their workspace, then pushing that data back to D365.

    On the enterprise side, we have AXIO Advanced Projects, which brings project management and accounting capabilities to D365 Finance. AXIO fills in critical functionality gaps — time-entry, contract lifecycle management, automated process governance, etc. — allowing firms to manage their financials in a way that aligns with their business model.

    These solutions allow experts to implement a solution that meets the client’s basic needs and immediately start customizing the platform around strategic goals.

    Firms can also use the Power Platform to build apps that help clients solve a specific problem.

    In another recent post, we shared a couple examples that used automated workflows to mitigate risks. EY built an automated framework to help clients keep up with ever-changing regulatory requirements and VAT rates. TIBCO, on the other hand, uses real-time data streaming to detect fraud. While the benefits to customers are less direct than EY’s automated solution, TIBCO’s investment protects sensitive data – an effort goes a long way in establishing a sense of transparency, trust, and loyalty.

    Internally, you might automate specific workflows or build apps that support employees on the job.

    For example, Deloitte UK created a portal that digitized the entire onboarding process — eliminating the need to print, scan, and email paper forms, and made it easy for employees to book meeting rooms and request time off. The portal allowed the firm to monitor employee wellbeing and track COVID-related sickness, enabling HR to provide personalized support to employees during the pandemic.

    Final Thoughts

    The Microsoft Power Platform’s unique suite of low-code services make it easy for firms to unify and leverage their data, upskill their entire workforce, and develop super-specific apps and workflows that enhance the client experience and boost the bottom line.

    The Right Microsoft Partner Can Drive Business SuccessThe Right Microsoft Partner Can Drive Business Success

    But – while solutions like Power BI, Power Apps, and Power Automate have major potential to kick your entire digital strategy into high-gear, firms often struggle to achieve the desired outcomes. These solutions are so open-ended, it’s hard to determine what platforms to use and how to use them to hit critical objectives – even if you’re starting with one of the Power Platform’s many intuitive templates.

    Our experts help firms transform their entire business using the Power Platform, Dynamics 365, and the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem. As a full-service Microsoft partner with 30+ years of experience, Velosio understands exactly how to achieve critical outcomes for its professional services clients.

    Contact us today to learn more about our services, solutions, and Power Platform expertise.

    Business Leaders Guide to the New Digital AgeBusiness Leaders Guide to the New Digital Age