Most organizations, especially large professional services organizations, are investing heavily in a data-driven strategy for their businesses. But why is every organization putting such a serious focus on embedding data in every decision or interaction today?
According to McKinsey Global Institute, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to clearly outperform their competitors, and nearly 19 times likely to achieve profitability. And great examples of leveraging such business-modifying insights are leading companies like Facebook and Amazon. The insights gained from predicting data are producing positive outcomes for companies, such as enhanced decision-making, improved business operations, greater customer experience, and higher employee engagement.
However, becoming a “data-driven” organization requires a shift in mindset, orchestrating change, agility, data proficiency, and a proven strategy that can ensure the mission, goals, and needs of an entire organization are addressed—in process and technology.
Where to Start: Visionary Attribute – A CEO Imperative
It is not easy to become a data-driven organization – there are a lot of hurdles along this way. The reason behind this is that only data and technology are not enough for an organization to become successful. However, in reality, implementing new tools can just worsen the situation as large global organizations usually have multiple point solutions running across their entire ecosystem, without proper connectivity. These disparate systems are enforced on employees, causing data silos, making their work more tedious and repetitive than before.
CEOs need to prioritize the massive disparities that these legacy systems are causing in the daily processes like:
- Inefficient Operations: Large services organizations have multiple time-tracking systems that are extremely inefficient and poorly integrated. As a project-based business, they have multiple time-tracking systems for various employee types, such as full-time employees (FTEs), shift workers, part-time workers, and freelancers. The systems currently being used in most organizations have been in place for several years, and were most probably built to serve just a single business goal. They rarely meet the current benchmarks crucial to help a large services organization in the long term. In addition, these traditional systems that match yesterday’s business requirements cannot be easily upgraded or updated to address the new business and market demands of the future. Further, these legacy and disparate systems are giving rise to numerous business challenges such as:
- Fragmented systems, resulting in more “siloed-data”
- Growing runtime, maintenance, and employee costs
- Non-compliance and regulatory challenges
- Failing to offer the best employee experience and competitive edge
- Lack of decision-making analytics
- Increased Costs and Clunky Employee Experience: The maintenance and support costs for managing multiple systems pile up the total cost of ownership. It is difficult for professional services organizations to manage and focus on the silos caused by the use of these multiple broken systems. These systems result in interaction disagreements across teams, multiple overlapping, and dissatisfaction among employees. Employee adoption is a critical challenge to be overcome in large enterprises today.
Multiple disparate systems are used for different purposes. For instance, one system is used for timesheet submission, another system is used for approval, while another system is used for time-off. As a result of this, the day-to-day employee experience gets impacted, resulting in frustrated employees. In addition, switching between different systems to submit timesheets is a burden for employees, further making them vulnerable to making mistakes. These inadequacies also hamper employees’ work and productivity as they do not get the right tool to perform their tasks, further leading to loss of valuable time and money.
- Poor Governance and Lack of Compliance: For large professional services organizations, data governance can be a greater challenge than what they perceive it to be. Global professional services organizations operate across multiple geographic locations, serving a multitude of clients, and have complex internal structures. Lack of data governance in large professional services organizations that accomplish more than 200 projects in a year could lead to missed business opportunities, as they tend to react to stale data to make crucial business decisions. Also, as a result of this, services organizations are managing compliance in a decentralized manner as their compliance requirements vary across regions.
Therefore, a unified and scalable time-tracking platform with built-in compliance can enable your professional services organization to minimize compliance risks and decrease audit costs through continuous upgrades. In addition, you will have access to the global library for payroll compliance across countries, across jurisdictions; ongoing legislative updates for new regulations worldwide; and comprehensive reporting to manage and maintain time, cost, and pay records for possible audits.
In today’s era of disruption, to build a great data-driven workplace, professional services organizations should bring together technology, operations, processes, and most importantly, their people to provide a consistent, reliable, efficient, and effective employee experience all the time. CEOs need to look ahead of legacy workplace ecosystem models and think about how their employees can use modern technology to improve service, profitability and drive a great overall experience. CEOs should focus on increasing productivity, cutting down costs and enhancing their overall profit margin.
How Will a Strategic Path Determine Your Future Faster?
Without a proven data-driven approach powered by a single source of truth for time data, the business decisions that you make are, at best, an educated guess and, at worst, a shot in the dark.
Accurate time tracking is crucial to your organization’s operations, not only for meeting the purposes of project goals and staying within budget but also for the large amounts of data generated, related to different business metrics like costs, pay, billing, productivity, revenues, profit margins, etc. Accurate time data will help you gather actionable insights and rework your KPIs for enhanced organizational performance and success. It will also help in finding and bridging gaps so that your services organization can uncover areas for further enhancement, handle resources effectively, and have expenses under control.
Therefore, to begin with, CEOs must start evaluating their current ecosystem and identify any possible inadequacies. The next step is to understand, analyze and implement a unified platform that can not only simplify and modernize your processes but also help in:
- Identifying and Eliminating Silos: A unified and connected platform will reduce the complexity associated with multiple systems.. Employees will no longer have to keep shuffling between multiple platforms, ultimately leading to a boost in daily productivity.
- Making Decisions More Effectively: You will be able to access the desired data across the organization and produce insightful reports with the aid of an integrated unified platform. This will further enable you and your organization to foresee challenges, if any, and develop relevant business strategy as necessary.
- Reducing Reliance and Maximizing Resource Utilization: A unified platform will bring all the resource information into a single system in comparison to the numerous dispersed software systems and databases. Additionally, it incorporates current software and databases into a single business intelligence repository.
- Experiencing Seamless Operations: With a single unified tracking platform, all your operations will be automatic, saving time and lowering human errors. A few button clicks can finish tasks that might otherwise take hours. Further, as all the systems will be connected and synchronized to facilitate simple sharing between multiple systems, there wouldn’t be a requirement to enter data again.
- Getting Access to Real-time and Accurate Business Metrics: Key business metrics to make informed decisions will be available on the go since all time data will be connected to business data, right from billing to resource consumption. Additionally, you will be able to deal with any issue before it arises.
However, you’re not alone who is struggling with erroneous or partial data and delayed information. Many organizations are struggling with making poor decisions or the inability to make decisions at all.
A Global Use Case for Moving from Pointed Solutions to a Single Unified Platform for Time Tracking
A Fortune 500 company and large IT enterprise wanted to shift to cloud solutions and become a data-driven organization. This was also imperative as they wanted to implement a cloud-based ERP and needed a unified platform to consolidate their time data across 20+ time-tracking systems. But with a fragmented ecosystem and multiple legacy systems, one of the critical challenges faced by the business was the lack of real-time visibility into how their employees spent their work time across all their projects. Their time data limited their enterprise reporting capabilities and did not provide a global view of employees’ time information. In addition, they had to invest heavily in managing payroll compliance for their global workforce.
Between multiple legacy systems, homegrown systems, and the inability to get real-time visibility, the organization also experienced delayed timesheet approval which impacted their client billing, caused revenue leakages, and obscured project decision-making. All this accumulated technical debt has led to a bigger impact on employee productivity.
As a part of a strategic initiative, the CEO’s mandate was to have in place a strategy that could optimize the interactions with multiple technologies — not just for operational support but as an enabler for business growth. The organization’s current ecosystem has different time-tracking systems for time and attendance, and project time. Therefore, they first embarked on the journey to streamline and consolidate their time-tracking systems into one platform, in an attempt to prevent the organization from further drowning in technical debt. This vision set an accelerated approach that significantly simplified their technology infrastructure. This phase of the digital journey chartered the path to implementing an ERP standardization program in the future.
The Game-Changing Results:
A cloud-first time-tracking platform optimized the interaction among all the apps that employees used across the enterprise and gave the business leaders real-time visibility into all their time data. It provided better visibility into how the employees spent their work time across projects, tasks, and activities. This helped the leadership team in chalking out data-driven strategies that could pave the way for improved employee productivity and project profitability.
The data also provided insights into how the leadership team could ensure all the tasks of a project were allocated to competent resources for timely completion of the entire project. Moreover, the unified platform also tracked and monitored the time data of employees across geographies to manage payroll and compliance.
This is how a comprehensive digital business strategy to implement a unified platform allowed the large organization to gain higher revenues, attract new talent, retain current employees, and outdo the competition in this hyper-connected hybrid world.
Build a Data-Driven Enterprise With a Unified Approach
According to a survey by SPI, 59% of organizations achieve 70% or higher billable utilization, which translates into higher revenue growth. Without real-time and accurate insights, you will usually find project budgets being maxed out sooner than expected. In addition, you would experience delays in submission and approvals, and inaccurate billing, invoicing and expense tracking.
You need to know how your employees are spending their project time and which projects are consuming more resources in order to identify unnecessary costs, especially if you want to bill your clients accurately. Also, a decentralized approach to compliance causes additional problems.
You need to enable your business leaders with the right tools to make proactive business decisions to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness and comprehend the ways in which they affect your bottom line.
Replicon can provide real-time visibility into the efficiency of your employees’ work time across all your projects so that you can identify the areas where they spend their billable hours. We can provide an accurate picture of how your projects are progressing. With this information in hand, you will be able to find efficiencies and adapt to the changing needs quickly.
The built-in compliance rules ensure all the time data is compliant with the financial industry accounting standards and labor compliance standards that can minimize the compliance burden and hefty penalties incurred by professional services organizations.
Lost time equals to lost money; therefore, implementing a unified time-tracking platform to know and understand how work hours are utilized in your company is always an economical choice. As you move through the cycle of data, analysis and implementation, your organization will become more efficient and profitable, while meeting business goals with ease and maintaining budget within limits.