Joseph Schumpeter, one of Austria’s top economists, in the 1940s coined the word “creative destruction” to describe how technology was changing lives, but even he could not have guessed the speed at which these changes were coming. All the industries felt these effects and are now undergoing a severe transformation, making themselves prone to disruption. Not only has the technology changed quickly, but the methods to achieve efficiency and profitability have changed as well.
Enter 2020. The future of work has changed. Business models have evolved.
Fixed outcome-based engagements are gaining traction in the professional services world. There is an increasing need for 100% real-time, accurate time data for services organizations to win more project bids. Eliminating multiple, siloed time tracking systems can create more efficiency. Large services organizations that can design an employee experience from a hybrid workplace perspective can offer greater flexibility, configurability, and leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, real-time solutions, and automated processes, which can increase employee productivity that will further drive higher profitability for the organization. According to Aberdeen, 30% of the professional services firms have embarked on a transformation journey to implement a cloud-based ERP system. These firms are evaluating their shift to a cloud-based time-tracking platform with a three-point agenda: innovation, ease of use, and future readiness. Services organizations need to accelerate their journey to a cloud-based business model to drive higher profitability, win more project bids and drive faster project decisions.
So how do large services organizations begin to re-envision their connected ecosystem strategy and make it a top priority?
Connected ecosystems will create better employee experiences
Time is the backbone of professional services firms. However, in a McKinsey survey respondents said that 30% of total enterprise time was being spent on non-value-added tasks due to poor data quality and availability. Organizations are realizing that disparate and/or manual approaches as used in the past are no longer sustainable for the hybrid digital future.
Unique use cases and implementing localization requirements are the main challenges for professional services firms that inhibits them from offering a connected employee experience. While automation can be a starting point as a growth strategy, for building a future-ready services firm, the entire time tracking landscape should be re-architected with a front-to-back digital transformation. Shifting to a unified platform will be imperative to extend innovation to the employees around the world, improve their business processes and help curb the unavoidable revenue leakages and missed billable time associated with the legacy systems.
During the first wave of digital adoption, professional services firms had centered their digital journey on the front-end employee experience alone. Moving from excel-driven time tracking to home-grown or point solutions or a combination of these to meet requirements from across the locations for time capture solved the immediate problem at hand. However, to pursue a bolder vision of digital transformation and survive the future of work and innovation, services organizations now need to unlock their success by adopting a more holistic approach – by integrating business, compliance, and technology silos.
Employees are looking for faster ways to capture time, increase their productivity and business leaders are looking to gain access to all their time spent across all projects in real-time and leverage the power of data to get actionable insights quickly on their resource utilization. Enhancing the employee experience offers an enormous scope to drive project profitability and gain a competitive advantage in the industry.
Digital agility provides a catalyst for simplifying the employee experience and automating project time tracking. For creating long term sustainable value, services organizations need to take a step further: link the new experience to the underlying operational processes. This requires an understanding of two things: what creates value across a given journey from a employee perspective (like automated time tracking, automated approval path, capture of time across multiple projects, submitting timesheets ready for billing) and what drives business costs and revenues (like the number of manual touches, compliance costs, the transformation of business processes, reduce decision cycles).
Take control with integrated business processes
An automated time tracking solution with AI capabilities provides you with an ecosystem that can solve forecasting and budgeting requirements for your organization. However, you must know the amount of time each project takes to make accurate predictions, as is crucial for effective budgeting and informative decision-making. All this can be accomplished with the help of a time-intelligent AI-powered platform that will enable you to track existing projects and compare the progress to the set goals and liabilities.
Modern time tracking platforms can be frictionless, automated, and unobtrusive with features like facial recognition, chatbots, and intelligent business process management. AI can also be applied to do the heavy lifting in the process – collecting time data, enhancing context, and linking it to project metrics, resulting in a more efficient system and greater employee efficiency and productivity. Artificial intelligence has not only found a home in today’s diverse, mobile and modern business needs — but it has given organizations workforce support for modernization and innovation.
The value of automation is in freeing the employees up to be able to do the work that really matters and that can’t be easily done by an automated process. Survive organizations need to invest in a platform that will reduce the manual steps that are currently taking away the billable hours of their employees, which is going to consume potential revenue generating time from their front line practitioners and so automation is key to take away overhead tasks on a regular basis.
Productivity leads to profitability and greater value
As a professional services firm leader, you must be aware that it is time-consuming to track each employee’s time and manually note it down on an excel sheet at every project stage. It is even more challenging to identify and collect data present across different systems while handling multiple projects at once. Instead of spending time and effort on collating all the information in one place and verifying it afterward, you can better utilize this time towards other priority tasks. Imagine how much time will be saved if you just have to manage a single unified system.
Let us understand why enterprise time tracking is essential for profitability:
- Achieve Single Source of Truth – A joint study shows, disengaged employees cost businesses somewhere from $450 to $550 billion yearly. Enterprise time tracking platform will give detailed insights into your employees’ time – how much they have spent on a particular task, which tasks are taking more time to complete, etc. These details will help you improve their productivity and predict any failures. You’ll also be able to set accurate estimates and budgets for future projects easily. Lost time equals lost money; therefore, implementing a time tracking platform to know and understand how work hours are utilized in your company is always an economical choice.
- Maximize Resource Utilization – According to a survey by SPI, 59% of organizations achieved 70% or higher billable utilization which translates into higher revenue growth. You need to know where your employees are spending their project time, which projects are consuming more resources to identify unnecessary costs. An intelligent time tracking platform will show you the efficiency of your employee time across all your projects and where they are spending their billable hours. With correct and timely flags, you can identify the problems, take corrective measures to address those, and grow your profits by identifying the leakages.
- Streamline Billing and Invoices – Another vital part of your professional service business is accurately knowing how much to charge your clients. Your clients will need a record of the services provided to verify that they are getting invoiced correctly. Enterprise time tracking platform will allow you to quickly configure your pricing rates based on the time, project, country, client, etc., and generate accurate invoices that will help in building trust within your clients.
- Built-in Compliance – Services organizations have a decentralized approach to compliance. A time tracking platform with built-in compliance can ensure all the time data is compliant to the financial industry accounting standards and labor compliance standards that can minimize the compliance burden and hefty penalties incurred by professional services firms.
Unleash the Power of an Interconnected Platform
Digital applications and processes are deeply entrenched in the world today, forcing services organizations to take up the transformation mandate if they want to remain competitive. Professional services firms need a level of interconnectivity to be a part of the hybrid digital era and to benefit from an integrated and dynamic connected ecosystem. By transforming the multiple time capture systems to a single unified cloud-based platform, improving the employee experience and offering real-time project visibility, professional services firms can increase their market growth as well as enhance customer satisfaction.
A modern integration strategy is what it will take to realize this vision. With a connected, flexible, scalable and secure platform, large services organizations can leverage plug-and-play connectivity, real-time processing to support the volume of employee data around the world and provide a seamless connected employee experience.
With seamless connectivity, professional services firms can spread their wings and find new frontiers that can boost their business across international markets. It’s what the large services organizations need to survive and thrive in the competitive landscape of the hybrid digital era.
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.