The professional services industry hasn't changed much over the last few decades. Sweeping technological innovations didn't impact how businesses handled the nuts and bolts of accounting, legal work, and other basic functions. Unfortunately, some things just never change!
Well, until now. Now that businesses everywhere are shifting these functions to digital spaces, you must now adapt not only to the changes your clients face but also to how you'll handle those changes in-house.
This post will cover seven challenges you'll face when operating your business today. Keep reading to learn more about innovations in the professional services operating model.
Finding new clients for professional services businesses used to be a lot different. You put up ads in your area, called local companies, and spent your days on the phone with business owners that you could meet in person. Now that everyone is connected through the internet, things have gotten a little more complicated.
Today, you don't only have to worry about your competition in your area — you're competing with the rest of the world. You'll need to look outside of your local area to find new clients and adapt your marketing strategy to compete online.
It's also easier than ever to set up a web presence. With a lower barrier to entry, you'll see even more competitors enter the space.
The projects you used to work on five or 10 years ago are entirely different from today's projects. As technology advances, so does everything else. Companies today want to take advantage of the newest tools, so you'll need to be able to keep up.
You'll need a professional services model that keeps your team operating efficiently and your clients in the loop. Luckily, there are plenty of project management tools available to you that can help.
Keep in mind, though, that great project management will only take you so far. With all these new tools, your client's expectations can also change frequently. Ensure you're prepared to make quick changes to keep up with expectations.
Keeping your employees trained on the latest projects and tools can be a pain. With thousands of tutorials and courses available online, you'll need a way to determine which are helpful and which ones aren't. The last thing you want is to pay for training that doesn't create value for your team.
Ensuring that you properly train your employees on different tools will save you time, money, and help satisfy your customers. With all the new tools coming out every year, you can't afford to let your team fall behind.
Training is also essential when you onboard new employees. Every hour you spend getting new employees up to speed is a missed billable hour. Get your training system right so your new team members can become productive as soon as possible.
While all the available digitals tools provide a significant boost to business productivity, there are a few downsides to be aware of. The biggest issue you'll face is cybersecurity.
As information continues to go digital and operating models adjust accordingly, hackers will notice more opportunities to exploit weaknesses in companies. Many of these hackers are primarily interested in money, so they'll start targeting service professionals and the companies they serve.
You'll need to stay updated on the latest cybersecurity tips to maintain the safety of your and your client’s personal information when you work online. Don't take the chance of losing sensitive information to hackers.
Cash flow is one of the most critical things in any professional services operation. In a world where your clients are more demanding than ever, you don't want any member of your team to work for free.
You'll need to invest in tools to ensure everyone can track every hour they work. Digital project management tools let your employees click a button to start their time and click the stop button to end it. Gone are the days of physical time cards and clocks to punch.
All your billable hours will show up in a report that identifies how much every client owes. You won't need to chase down your team to make sure they didn't miss any hours.
Keep in mind that customers today are trying to save as much money as they can. As you try to get every billable hour you can, make sure you let your clients know what makes your time so valuable to them.
The world has changed a lot in the past several years, and consumer behavior has changed along with it. The problem is that not every company has kept up with those changes.
That means more companies than ever are looking for professional services to help them meet the moment. While this is great for companies looking for new business, it can also generate too much work for some of them to handle.
You need an operating model in place to account for excess demand. If you can't scale your professional services to meet almost any level of demand, you'll miss out on new clients.
With all the things your team needs to do, you don't have time to spend on non-billable administrative work. You need a system in place to handle everything from paperless timesheets to invoicing.
Look to professional services automation software solutions to lighten your load. These software packages contain everything you need to automate many of your repetitive tasks. Such tasks often include things like billing, email, and data collection.
There are many options out there, so identify the tasks your team spends the most time on yet have the least impact on your bottom line. The chances are very good that there's existing software that can remove that task from their day entirely.
You need the right tools to meet the growing and shifting demands of the professional services operating model in today's digital space. The best tools will cut down the work you need to do and let you do your job more efficiently.
Accelo offers professional service providers automation tools to lighten their workload. Sign up for a free trial today to see how Accelo’s software can help your business.