Imagine a future where artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and machine learning are fully ingrained in professional services firms. Large services organizations have outgrown their monolithic legacy systems and have built fully-digitized ecosystems across the professional services value chain. Having eliminated multiple disparate systems, services firms have redefined a connected ecosystem for time tracking by implementing a unified platform to achieve a single source of truth of employee billable time.
Cloud-first time tracking platforms that are purpose-built have become the norm in the hybrid workplace culture, with more revenue-driven employees and higher billable utilization. The next-generation operating model, a product of the platform economy, has given large services organizations newfound speed, agility, security, efficiency, and precision for their digital business models.
Employees have been elevated to ‘super workers’ who quickly solve everyday challenges with the help of real-time intelligent data. They are no longer distracted by manual administrative tasks like filling timesheets since AI automation has taken over those activities. Instead, they are driving higher profitability on their projects, maximizing billable time, delivering projects on time and budget, delivering the highest customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, accomplishing more in less time. Predictive analytics, open APIs, machine learning, and true AI empower these ‘super workers’ with unprecedented insight. All this is not too distant and already happening.
Services Firms to Experience this Reality Sooner than Later
All of the above is not a pipe dream anymore. It is a realistic picture of the future that awaits services firms based on what the world is already experiencing.
The 21st-century professional services ecosystem is digitizing, and large services firms are re-imagining professional services technology platforms and embedding new technologies to drive innovation and digital architectures. Firms need to prepare for competitive bids to win more projects, lower project margins, be more operationally agile to drive higher project profitability and remain relevant. In fact, according to Aberdeen, the estimating accuracy for fixed projects is becoming crucial for professional services firms and large services organizations need to use their project resources 25% more effectively. Best-run services businesses are agile, integrated and innovative.
Today’s interconnected digital landscape is the reason for professional services firms’ significant shift. Firms realize that the tightly controlled, proprietary operations that once ran don’t work anymore, and to get ahead in this new open marketplace, transparency is crucial. But one of the limitations of the traditional services model is a complex IT architecture that needs to accommodate new operating models and handle greater demands for data. Firms that want to remain competitive in the future need to develop an overall ecosystem strategy with an approach to openness centering on three themes: cloud enablement, a data-driven environment and real-time visibility to data to survive the hybrid economy.
Cloud-based ERP platforms are a catalyst for shifting to a cloud-based time tracking platform for large services organizations. According to Aberdeen, 43% of services firms are considering shifting to a cloud-based ERP. Firms need to adopt a cloud-based time tracking platform to leverage the benefits of operating in a hybrid digital era. Aberdeen report sheds light on project management pressures faced by professional services firms. Of surveyed firms:
- 36% facing increased competition
- 25% need to use project management resources more effectively
- 24% have an increase in their variability of costs through the life of a project
- 22% have difficulty managing changing customer expectations
- 22% are facing volatile business conditions
It is time to realize the value of the cloud in time tracking. Professional services business leaders need to be ready.
Stepping into the Hybrid Digital Era
As the speed of modern business keeps increasing, professional services firms need to upgrade their technological capabilities and equip their workforce with the latest in modern tools to remain relevant in a highly competitive marketplace. Enabling those changes becomes a challenge when dealing with a fragmented ecosystem.
Employees end up spending innumerable hours trying to manage and reconcile the data spread across multiple systems. Multiple systems also invariably create multiple siloed databases that can’t or don’t effectively mesh with each other, limiting your ability to share relevant information quickly resulting in a failure of departmental or team coordination. Overall, there is an increase of inconsistent and error-laden data that serves little purpose except to frustrate employees.
To escape from this quagmire, organizations are increasingly adopting cloud-based platforms. The modern employee is accustomed to streamlined and efficient processes, creating an opportunity for organizations to invest in platforms that simplify day-to-day operations and decrease time spent on labor-intensive tasks. A services firm whose business processes at different levels are supported by an integrated cloud-based system will clearly enjoy a competitive advantage by accurately capturing their key revenue source: billable time. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Automated time tracking process: Traditional manual methods of time tracking creates several opportunities for errors and inconsistencies, all of which are eliminated by bringing in automation.
- Real-time visibility: Thanks to the aforementioned automation, it now becomes possible to gain real-time visibility into all data, thereby driving agile management processes. Identifying opportunities for improvement and optimization becomes easier as warning signs are noticeable earlier.
- Maximization of billable time: The biggest boost to billable time comes from the optimization of processes and resource allocation made possible due to the real-time visibility into time data.
- Improved employee experience: As the cloud platform takes over with its automation capabilities, employees are freed from the tediousness of filling up timesheets, making it easier to focus on billable tasks. Additionally, employees no longer have to contend with disparate interfaces and learning new tools simply to manage timesheets.
- Reduce time-to-revenue process: With a cloud platform, time data can be integrated to billing systems to automate invoicing. Increased accuracy drives faster and more accurate billing allowing invoices to be processed and be out the door more rapidly, resulting in a quicker time-to-revenue process.
- Increased transparency, global governance and compliance: Cloud platforms bring about an increase in the transparency around all time data, while simplifying compliance and governance concerns. Every entry and edit is automatically documented and verified through approval workflows and validation rules. Pay rules and labor laws can be easily applied across the global workforce with minimum hassle, resulting in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations.
Timesheet-free Intelligent Time Tracking – A Game Changer
As services organizations seek to become more agile, they are increasingly finding cloud-based platforms to be the perfect solution to their challenges. Cloud platforms are incredibly supportive of innovation due to easier upgrades and faster implementation cycles. This allows new emerging technologies such as zero touch time capture to be quickly adopted by organizations looking to stay ahead of the competition.
With zero touch time capture, for example, it becomes possible to significantly reduce the time spent on filling timesheets as the platform automatically captures the requisite information from emails, calendars and other tools. By speeding up the time capture process, the quote-to-cash process is similarly reduced. Additionally, these platforms already offer enterprise-level functionality such as multicurrency and multilingual capabilities, built-in compliance and global governance to help professional services organizations support global operations.
This enhances operational agility as organizations no longer need to pause external billable projects in favor of internal digital transformation. As organizations move on from legacy systems to purpose-built systems, their agility increases and it becomes easier for them to support newer initiatives such as mobile workforces and hybrid operational models.
Cloud-based platforms that simplify the organization’s ability to strengthen resource allocation and maximize resource utilization through accurate time tracking can prove invaluable. With market volatility and changing customer expectations being two of the most significant challenges for professional services firms, having accurate records of previous projects’ costs against budgets is a must. The historical basis provided by cloud platforms provides the competitive advantage for best-in-class companies to properly manage fixed-price contracts, building business resilience in face of the challenges mentioned above.
Enterprises are embarking towards cloud-based time tracking not only to gain a competitive edge but also to provide a future ready ecosystem to their stakeholders. Improving the employee experience with accurate project data for time tracking is a win-win for enterprises to thrive in a hybrid digital workplace. Get ready and be on board for your digital transformation journey to streamline processes, drive operational efficiency and productivity, reduce billing cycles and revenue leakage, and improve cash flow and profitability. Investing in cloud-time tracking ticks all of those boxes and enables superior capabilities in all facets of project management and operational agility, turning your time into a strategic asset.
Do you want to understand the advantages of unifying enterprise time tracking for your organization? Sign up for our time tracking workshop tailored to your organization’s unique needs!