As today’s world is becoming increasingly digitized, all types of organizations across the globe are generating large volumes of data. And even though organizations are acknowledging the value of that data, they are using advanced technology to capture and analyze data, to evolve and grow continuously. And the situation is no different for professional services organizations. The big question for every organization today is whether or not they are able to make efficient use of their own data for competitive advantage.
This capability shortfall is not only severely restricting an organization’s success but is also weakening its overall capability. A study by Gartner reports that approximately 97 percent of data sits unused by organizations. The need of the hour is that each data insight should be utilized to drive great business results. And this is making the demand for actionable data insights grow significantly. Also, with capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), it has become considerably important for organizations to better manage and utilize the data they have. Organizations need to take a data-driven approach to succeed rather than suffer silently by working with data in silos.
A PwC research shows that “data-driven organizations can outdo their competitors by 5% in productivity and 6% in profitability.”
How Can a Large Services Organization Become Data-Driven?
Being a data-driven organization is beyond investing in large data infrastructure or having in place a dedicated team of data analysts and scientists. Professional services organizations need to fully utilize their untapped goldmine — their data — as major obstacles like legacy technology and siloed data in organizations’ current ecosystem are stopping them from becoming data-driven organizations.
Large professional services organizations have multiple systems running their business operations which tend to lock their data in silos. This makes it difficult to correctly quantify the work that employees perform, track project status and progress, and, ultimately, understand how the data is helping in gaining business revenue and profitability.
Do you know that “81% of services organizations agree that the core of all business decisions should be data.”
The Visibility Challenge
The challenge is not that services organizations don’t have data at their disposal. The real problem is a large amount of unstructured and siloed data that is lying across multiple disparate legacy systems, and the lack of real-time visibility into it.
The inability to manage, correlate and analyze this disparate data from multiple systems stored across functional silos and business applications makes it difficult for decision-makers to work together and plan. Services organizations lacking the ability to analyze the data fail to unlock the power of it to gain business success. Lack of insightful data further leads to:
- Complexity in Managing Project Costs, Resources, and Compliance: Irrespective of a project being internal or external, if you don’t have accurate data insights into cost management and budgeting, it can lead to a costly mistake such as turnover time, idle time, and wasted resources. This can turn into a substantial share of cash flow. Additionally, with multiple projects running in parallel, it can get difficult to find which project is causing the maximum revenue and resource leakage. Without the visibility into your project time, you will also see billing errors, inaccurate statements of work, and misquotes.
- Non-compliance: A minor flaw in managing your day-to-day functions around workforce, teams, and projects can expose you to the risk of non-compliance. The lack of visibility into employees’ billable project hours and business processes can make your organization fail to comply with various regulations. Also, as services organizations embrace the hybrid working model, current point solutions and excel-driven applications cannot scale and meet complex business needs.
- Clunky Employee and Customer Experience: Due to the use of multiple fragmented systems, daily employee experience becomes frustrating as the majority of their time is spent on the clunky and baffling processes. Changing between different systems to track and analyze data is a burden for employees, which makes them vulnerable to making mistakes. Without complete and clear visibility into accurate billable time, you will either underrate the project time and sell yourself short or overcharge your customers and damage their trust and relationships. This inability to capture the billable and non-billable time data accurately is a common challenge that directly translates into revenue leakages and poor profitability for services organizations.
- Incorrect Estimates of Project Bids: To accurately forecast and prepare a budget, you need accurate and real-time insights into historical trends on how, where, when, and why money was spent. And in unprecedented times like today’s, a lack of real-time visibility into project costs — estimates vs. actuals — will possibly set up project budgets for failure.
Driving higher project profitability for your organization demands real-time visibility into time data. The lack of which impacts project delivery and budget. Manual methods such as spreadsheets will not be sufficient anymore. A services organization needs to have a systematic “one platform” strategy in place to address these challenges and truly become a data-driven organization.
Through an intelligent project time tracking platform, it is possible to gain a comprehensive and real-time visibility into project time data anytime and from anywhere. It can also enable you with automated project tasks, intelligent processes to capture and process time data. An intelligent platform will easily and quickly integrate with your existing business processes to accelerate your time to revenue process.
Making the Case for a “One Platform” Strategy for Your Business
To gain a competitive advantage, services organizations need to be able to service at high speeds, while guaranteeing stability and compliance throughout the organization. Remember, a rushed migration without a clear approach can cost services organizations huge expenditure, increasing at a shocking rate. Therefore, cloud-adopting services organizations need to follow the correct approach to realize the full value of the cloud and accelerate their transformation journey with accurate data.
Maybe you can relate to this scenario: A leading IT organization, which is a featured Fortune 500 company, wanted to digitize and become data-driven. With a fragmented and siloed ecosystem having multiple legacy systems, they wanted to move to cloud solutions and begin their journey to become a data-driven organization.
To execute this vision, the large IT organization first tackled their multiple time-tracking systems and unified them into a single global platform. The key reasons that formed the basis of this decision were real-time visibility into projects, time, compliance and resources, with accelerated operational quality and profitability across the entire organization.
This approach to become data-driven set the stage and cleared the path to implement an ERP standardization program in the future as it significantly improved the quality of data, and supported better managed billing and profitability for their global business. Their global workforce also gained a modern user interface that could be accessed anytime, anywhere to capture their project time, and shift from manual-based to automated project time tracking. The new platform delivered AI/ML processes that provided the large IT organization with better insights into their existing business practices for enhanced reliability. Implementing an out-of-the-box platform provided substantial savings in terms of both time and cost.
The Data-driven Era for Large Services Organizations
A modern cloud-based time-tracking platform can transform and enable services organizations to monitor real-time project visibility, maximize resource utilization, and view project budget and costs in real time to ensure on-time and within budget project delivery, and also help them gain:
- Access to a connected ecosystem with seamless plug-n-play integrations to multiple ERP, CRM, HCM and project management systems
- Real-time visibility into critical data in the form of monthly and quarterly metrics reports that are important for identifying trends and forecasting budgets and resources
- Accurate insights into how projects are performing and get a real-time snapshot of key business metrics so that you can understand how employees are spending their work time, find efficiencies, and adapt to the changing needs
- The ability to quickly pivot to address any issues and find relevant solutions for any business scenario
- Access to a library of built-in templates to help you organize your data and get a bird’s-eye view with custom dashboards
- High-level visibility into historical data to identify key trends and forecast future project metrics
- Advanced analytics ability to easily track billing, utilization, margins, WIP, and more to make informed decisions that will save you time and money
Tracking project time and data is not only vital for the objectives of meeting project goals and staying within the desired budget, but also for the useful data that it generates related to business, such as costs, billing, productivity, resources, and profitability.
This kind of data-driven analytics helps in identifying gaps so that you can uncover the areas for progress, manage resources more efficiently, and keep expenses on track. With this you can generate actionable insights and adjust your KPIs for success. An intelligent system also gives you access to built-in global pay rule library and compliance capabilities that will further enable your services organizations to offer payroll for their global employees while being compliant across various jurisdictions across the globe.
The Way Forward
Organizations need to obtain accurate insights from their business data to plan better, take corrective action quickly, and provide significant outcomes sooner and more effectively than the competition.
Implementing technology platforms that unify the operations and processes in an organization allows them to reach the current level that customers are expecting. Professional services organizations need to offer their employees innovative and advanced tools and, at the same time, build the digital capabilities to compete in today’s uncertain future.
Therefore, they should take a holistic view of their customers’ needs throughout the value chain, from the initial requirement to the final delivery. Professional services organizations need to invest in a solution that can drive value from data. This method will create a single source of truth for time data and enable you with informed decision-making. Connected, real-time data also helps services organizations improve and boost employee productivity, benefit from new opportunities immediately, and become a data-driven organization.