As any professional services executive knows, a spotless reputation is critical to success, especially in highly competitive sectors of the industry. A damaged reputation can result in the loss of new and existing clients, damage employee recruitment and retention, and be very costly to repair. That’s why it is important to invest in the resources necessary to manage your professional services firm’s reputation. The right technology platform will provide the transparency, streamlined processes, and communications tools to support and enhance your efforts.
How technology helps Professional Services Firms better manage their reputation
One of the best ways to navigate the risk of damaging your firm’s reputation is to encourage total transparency. It isn’t difficult to find examples of firms brought down by only a few rogue employees who managed to disguise unethical activities through false reporting and data manipulation. Global powerhouse Arthur Andersen collapsed because a few people failed to live the company’s values, and the firm was found guilty of crimes in the company’s auditing of Enron. While that one was a whale of a story, smaller firms can suffer a similar fate, simply due to a lack of insight into profitability measures, employee performance issues, and broken processes.
An advanced project accounting system that provides the tools needed to promote transparency between team members, to executives, and for the customer makes it easy to quickly recognize potential problems, make quick course corrections, and avoid financial delays. The more visibility there is into a project, including resource capacity, budget status, and employee performance, the easier it is to respond quickly to a need for additional resources or for process adjustments. And the easier it is to manage profitability from the start.
Watch this short clip on visibility and reporting.
A customer’s perception of your firm can be impacted dramatically by a bad billing cycle. If the customer doesn’t recognize expenses because they occurred weeks prior, or if time spent at the beginning of a project doesn’t show up on the invoice until weeks later, questions may arise that significantly extend the amount of time required for client review. When time and expenses are billed on a timely basis, the client’s familiarity with the activities means less confusion for the client and faster collections for your firm.
The ability to conveniently enter time and expenses into your project accounting system from anywhere and on any device results in more accurate cost determinations and, ultimately, streamlined billing processes. Similarly, since no two customers are completely the same, the flexibility to accommodate billing requests and provide invoices for fixed fee, time and material, and percent complete scenarios lets you put the customer’s needs first.
Watch this short demo clip on mobile time and expense entry.
Collaboration between project team members, executive reporting, and ongoing client communications is the grease that keeps projects moving smoothly and on budget. Customers go into a project with a specific set of expectations focused on their needs, goals, and budget. Professional services firms go into a project with a specific set of expectations focused on their financial performance and their firms’ reputation. If communications break down at any level, expectations on both sides become difficult to manage.
Disconnected accounting systems and point solutions often lead to communications failures, as users struggle to connect all the data in real time. But a cloud-based solution that includes all the tools needed to serve as the one source for all information helps prevent communications break downs. Dashboards and reports based on real-time information are easily shared during project status meetings and client reviews. Trends are easier to identify, empowering predictability that keeps you one step ahead of potential problems.
Navigating the risk of a damaged reputation also requires monitoring customer, consumer and market sentiment expressed through social media. The ability to capture and aggregate this unstructured data enables firms to gauge confidence in their products and services, then use that insight to enhance customer satisfaction through new product development or service offerings. The information gathered can drive improvements throughout the project management process, as well.
In the end, customer success equals firm success. And success is the cornerstone to a strong brand and reputation. Learn more about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for Professional Services from Velosio enable firms to minimize risk and maximize profitability. Visit our website and download our guide for more information.