The pandemic-led recession and the slow, uncertain recovery have kept businesses on their toes. The new reality is confronting services and project-based companies with new operational challenges. On one hand, demanding client requests are making efficiency imperative. But in order to optimize productivity, leaders are trying to create a resourceful, conducive working environment for employees.
For project and technology leadership, it’s a tightrope walk between preserving project continuity and excelling as an employer amid challenges of all kinds. From achieving agility to operations excellence, they must optimize project, resource, time, costs, and billing information with one robust ecosystem. Unifying these components brings people, processes, and systems together and creates a single source of truth for the service-centric tech stack.
What Is a Tech Stack?
According to TechTarget, a software stack is a collection of independent components that work together to support the execution of an application. The components, which may include an operating system, architectural layers, protocols, runtime environments, databases, and function calls, are stacked one on top of each other in a hierarchy.
In the enterprise and service business world, this definition can be expanded to improving disconnected processes through best practices and agility. Here, a tech stack derives from the need for a collection of systems. Broadly they are CRM/ERP, project management/collaboration, accounting, incident management, payroll, HCM, HRMS, expense management, and more that work together to support the execution of a single client mandate. The components may leverage an automation platform for customization, real-time advanced analytics, scalability, agility, secure cloud infrastructure, global governance, and integration among CRM, accounting and invoicing, and project and task management – all stacked in a hierarchy as per your preferences.
Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Tech Stack?
As projects and processes increase in complexity, the number of applications, solutions, and apps required to complete them also mind-tinglingly multiply. With the list getting longer, it becomes difficult to track and maintain balance. Tech fatigue can become a real issue. Despite deploying the best à la carte technology solutions, businesses struggle to implement the best practices.
Internally, it creates a culture of disbelief. Within the organization, some individuals, groups, and departments initially share information. But if there’s a lack of org-wide adoption and governance, apathy can steep in and even the early movers may take a backseat. For a professional service organization that should thrive on camaraderie between teams, achieving consistency and technology enablement among otherwise disparate departments is needed to break such silos.
Externally, your seemingly perfect inventory of tools may or may not work for the client. For example, even the most tech-savvy clientele is often terrified of logging into a complex UI that is not part of their repertoire to perform a simple task such as creating an invoice. By connecting your tech stack in one platform, you can integrate every stage of a project lifecycle and discover efficiency. This also helps different groups work off the same data and drive harmony across these functions while meeting all their needs.
Use a Professional Services Automation Tech Stack
Professional services automation (PSA) software knits together the hodgepodge of diverse systems. A PSA’s capabilities provide a unified system to house all the tech that professional service organizations need for growth. With an integration capability, it’s easy to share single-source data across all your business applications, solutions, and apps. Here are some of the ways you can integrate your multiple tech programs into one PSA solution.
CRM and ERP: By integrating leading CRM and ERP tools, a well-designed PSA helps organizations become more customer-centric. ERPs, which traditionally were built to support products or manufacturing with departments and functions around them, have been found to be too broad to solve complex service operations. Service businesses have critical needs around workflow, time tracking, billing, collaboration facilitation, project planning and execution, resource utilization, and managing project costs. The ERP was not ideally designed for these needs. Instead of customizing a heavy ERP system, a professional business can leverage PSA to integrate and pass information from one application to another (i.e., CRM to PSA to ERP). The confluence of ERP and CRM integration with PSA improves process flow, makes forecasting better, and stores the most relevant data in one location. It helps in automatically pulling data from CRM to plan key project elements.
Accounting: Service businesses delivering billable work can integrate their favorite accounting, ERP, or back-office software stack to automatically generate new invoices, track payment notifications, and manage costs in real-time. Share critical data with your ecosystem to enable project and resource planning, billing, and revenue recognition.
Project Management and Collaboration: Your favorite project management and collaboration tools should not only work well with each other, but also connect seamlessly within your technology ecosystem. Project scheduling, resource planning, task management, WFH time tracking, client billing, and invoicing can all be integrated with a PSA solution to make data and workflows between them seamless. This means that employees don’t have to waste time on repetitive, manual data gathering, and they won’t experience poor planning, communication delays, and any project outage.
Human Capital Management (HCM): A set of practices around people resource management, HCM is the source of truth for all resource data. PSAs are leveraged to run the business and help with managing resource utilization, mapping out skill requirements to projects, and initiating hiring or training decisions, and all these signals need to be fed into the HCM solution.
Incident Management: A PSA will allow you to integrate all incident management and issue ticketing systems — IT service management, HR, legal, IT operations, project management, etc. — under one window.
With a solid core to make it the best of the breed, a tech stack with a PSA as the single source of truth enables real-time decisions and enables all business leaders with the data they need to play their part in the professional services firm success.