For professional services firms, inaccurate time-tracking processes cause serious damage to the bottom line and the business in general.
See, when professionals fail to log billable hours accurately or turn their reports in on-time, it impacts the entire organization. It’s impossible to stay on top of capacity planning and resource management. Forecasts and decisions are based on an incorrect or incomplete set of “facts.” Estimates and timelines mean nothing.
The point is, professional services firms depend on accurate time-tracking to reliably turn a profit – or realistically, stay in business long-term. Below, we’ll take a closer look at what today’s firms are doing to not only get ahead of this issue – but turn time-tracking data into big business wins.
Accurate Time-Tracking is Life and Death for Professional Services Firms
Firms need a single source of truth and 360-degree visibility into the entire portfolio – offering a detailed breakdown of how employees spend their time. This is critical for many reasons. It supports reporting, decision-making, forecasting, and budgeting – as well as estimation and the ability to attract leads and convert them into customers.
Time and expense records serve as a valuable tool for resource planning, scheduling, and forecasting. For example, historical data might reveal that researching a new project takes an average of four days – allowing sales and project teams to incorporate that info into estimates, timelines, and SLAs.
And – they also help firms avoid wide, unpredictable swings where employees are either totally slammed or sitting on the bench waiting for a new assignment. Instead, they can build a backlog that can help them establish more predictable workloads (and cash flow). This makes it easier to hire and train new employees, set budgets, and make decisions regarding strategic investments, the sales strategy, or new products and services.
Without an accurate, real-time view of all billable hours and expenses, firms face a laundry list of problems. We’re talking: revenue leakage, delays, diminished profitability, and reputational damage.
(You can read more about inaccurate time-tracking and its disastrous effect on profit margins here.)
Unity is key, here. You’ll need an ERP system that covers time-tracking, expense management, project management, and core financials – along with anything else you need to run your business. When time data is logged using multiple apps (or worse, analog spreadsheets) and stored across many different files and folders, it’s really hard to find and use critical data.
Law firm Fieldfisher replaced their 11 legacy apps with Dynamics 365 Finance – bringing all business operations into one central hub that manages everything from billing and payment cycles to financial reporting inside D365. What’s more, professionals can log their hours, submit expense reports, and book time off without switching apps or screens.
Financial Director Mike Giles says D365 allowed the firm to gain deeper insight into what’s happening inside the business and helped them become more a more flexible, resilient organization.
Fragmented stacks are a bigger problem, in that they’re harder and more expensive to fix – but a unified system that fails to meet end-user needs causes the same problems: information silos, inaccurate data, errors, and inefficiencies.
For example, Velosio’s Jira and Dynamics 365 connector addresses this issue, allowing firms to integrate Dynamics 365 with Jira, Azure DevOps, Outlook, and more. This solution supports day-to-day efficiency by bringing simple time-tracking tools into the tools developers use to do their job. AXIO for Advanced Projects allows knowledge workers to log hours in their Outlook calendar and track expenses via D365 Finance.
In both cases, professionals aren’t wasting time logging hours in project management apps they don’t use for actual work. Nor are they entering data in two or more locations.
If you’re managing projects across multiple locations, job sites, and a hybrid workforce, you might build custom workflows into the core ERP to support the specific needs of different stakeholder groups like construction firm Suffolk. The company used Microsoft Teams, Lists, Forms, and the Power Platform to streamline business processes and enable remote collaboration.
While time and task management weren’t the only focus, Suffolk built an all-in-one solution that made it easy to log hours, track materials, manage and prioritize the hundreds of tasks and sub-tasks associated with each project. Business leaders can instantly see the status of project deliverables and employee workloads – making it easy to make plans with profitability in mind.
Service-based organizations need a reliable way to keep track of billable hours – without pulling experts away from valuable work that directly benefits clients.
Velosio’s professional service solutions build on the existing capabilities of Dynamics 365 to help clients manage complex projects, deliver more valuable services, and make faster, smarter decisions in the face of constant change. And a big part of that is implementing effective, integrated time-tracking solutions. Get in touch with an expert to find out more.