NetSuite for Professional Services
In professional services organizations, it is imperative to depend on the best technology to tap the growing opportunities. Since it is predominantly a people-driven industry, there is a strong dependence on the workforce’s skills, knowledge, and talents for sales, staffing, and delivering services. Services are rendered on a project or contract basis usually, a stark contrast from the traditional business. This makes people and task management the key in the professional services industry.
In that regard, applications used for business management must primarily focus on these two key matters.
Challenges Faced by Professional Service Businesses
There are challenges that are unique to the professional services industry which commands solutions that are tailor-made to respond to these challenges. There is an enormous amount of time that goes into the administration of tasks and resources management, time that could otherwise be used with the client. Add it, the global competition inherent in the industry, further adds to the complexity and need for extensive monitoring.
Are you sure your resource is working on the most profitable project?
Maintaining Margins & Maximizing Profitability: How do organizations make sure that there is enough information that guides on optimizing the delivery of billable projects and profit measurement? Companies need insights to make sure that they are working on the most profitable projects. In this context, it is a challenge to plan and schedule projects, manage people, their skill sets, and how profitably the same can be utilized.
Capturing of Actuals: There is a major concern in the industry, and it is to consistently and accurately capture the time spent by the resources on a project. To track profitability, the expenses should be balanced against the revenue generated from the project. But is the expense captured accurately throughout?
Fed up with the incorrect estimation judgments?
Inaccurate Estimations: Over or underestimation of time and cost is a rampantly witnessed concern in the IT industry. 100% data visibility is the key to solving this concern. Real-time information on resource availabilities, projects, and demand forecasts is imperative to making accurate estimates. Overestimation risks losing an engagement and underestimation runs into an unprofitable engagement.
Managing Billing Rates: Going with milestone billing, and fixed or project-based billing are strategic calls that a business makes. Challenges are when the existing system may not support the billing approach best suited to the project. In addition to the billing approach, inadequate visibility of present and future projects leads to poor resource utilization resulting in substandard billing utilization and below-market revenue yield per person.
Is 100% Customer Satisfaction, not a consistent feat?
Client Dissatisfaction: The absence of real-time monitoring and inaccurate estimations lead to runaway projects. This reflects the dysfunctional use of the organization’s resources leading to client dissatisfaction.
Employee Dissatisfaction: Poor user interfaces make it uncomfortable for the consultants to enter time and expense leading to lost productivity, non-billed time & expense, and frustrations.
Siloed Database: All those disconnected spreadsheets and legacy applications complicate the real-time sharing of critical resources and client & project information with stakeholders for faster decision-making.
Technology Designed for the Services Industry
For the past decade, Cloud technology has become the norm. There is a visible shift from a product-centric to a solution-centric approach. This expansion of digitalized & automated solutions is the key driver for investment in project automation solutions or Professional Service Automation (PSA) solutions among the project and services-based organizations. Services businesses like accounting firms, legal firms, management consultancy, advertising agencies, digital marketing firms, and manpower recruitment agencies are among the few who heavily depend on PSA and the Asia Pacific remains the third most active market after North America and Europe as per a study by Fortune Business Insights. The right project management or PSA solution should enable your business to deploy metrics and measure your core business processes to streamline and improve.
As per the 2021 SPI benchmark report published by NetSuite, organizations with limited professional service automation or project management capabilities report on-time project delivery of around 48% compared with 94% for those that have an optimized solution.
NetSuite for Professional Services
Oracle NetSuite’s SuiteProject and Professional Services Automation offers a rich business intelligence platform designed to respond to professional services organizations. It is designed from the ground up to manage key aspects of business across the bid-to-bill lifecycle. With a powerful cloud-based suite, NetSuite supports the entire range from resource management to expense tracking, from project management to advance billing and invoicing.
What kind of Professional Services can benefit from NetSuite?
- IT and ITES
- Legal Services
- Management Consultancy
- Industrial & Infrastructure Services
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Digital Marketing Services
- Event Companies
- Architecture and more
Why should service Organizations consider NetSuite?
A good enterprise Project management or PSA offering must have a strong integration platform. The key objective is to have data flow between CRM, ERP, and PSA and report across all elements with no room for error. Very few solutions offer these back-office and CRM capabilities requiring organizations to integrate them from outside. NetSuite has its own ERP and CRM system that fully integrates with the best-of-breed PSA offering. This approach suits best organizations that are considering an ERP system that has PSA capabilities.
NetSuite is one of the rare vendors to offer this combination. For any business that has a mature process in place and is looking for deep functionalities and strong project financials, then NetSuite Cloud ERP is ideal for such situations. NetSuite is easy to use and offers up-to-date information accessed and shared from anywhere and anytime. That explains why NetSuite serves a wide customer base across industries that excel in metrics such as revenue, billable utilization, and bid-to-win ratios.
Project Management: NetSuite Project Management covers the initiation, planning, execution, and control of the project. It enables collaboration across teams and gives real-time information on project status. Identify potential impediments to project deliveries and handle them proactively to deliver projects on time and within budget. Track and manage project-specific matrices, KPIs, project records, project schedules, resource lists, financial information, and budget.
Resource Management: With a real-time project timeline, assign the right resources for the right project based on employees’ skills, experience, interests, and availability. Manage centralized access to resource profiles, resource bookings, and request workflows. Make staffing plans with utilization reporting, capacity planning forecasts, and business line-based reports.
Project Accounting: Automate project accounting and invoicing to drive cash flow. Report project-level accounts like project profitability metrics and project budget versus actuals. Automate project invoices and invoicing engine, manage approvals, track outstanding balance, and integrate project accounting with the general ledger. This will allow you to even move from any existing stand-alone project accounting software that you would be using for your professional service business.
Billing: Supports multiple pricing models and complex rating scenarios. Add customer-specific rates for flexible billing and consolidate multiple charges in a single invoice. Automate recurring revenue processes in accordance with the latest revenue recognition standards. You can add material, machinery, and other charges that appear as part of your service offering.
Timesheet Management: Make it simple for your employees to add hours worked and other information from anywhere. Add time for multiple projects on the same timesheet. Define user and project-level approvals, amend timesheets, and track hours worked.
Expense Management: Record expenses accurately with a simple interface. Consolidate multiple projects-based expenses in a single report, ensure compliance, and maximize accuracy and timeliness of expense reporting.
Analytics: Get on-demand real-time insights with a robust dashboard, analytical tools, and reporting. Track project performance with flexible reports, list views, and pre-configured professional reports that can be modified to your business’s needs.
Ease of migrating to NetSuite
NetSuite Cloud ERP is the first cloud-native solution that integrates ERP and Project management or PSA functionality to meet the unique requirements of service businesses. However, if the business has an in-house CRM system and prefers continuing its usage, then the NetSuite system can be integrated with such third-party systems. There are out-of-the-box connectors pre-built for such data exchange.
If the business already uses NetSuite ERP, then it makes business sense to extend PSA capabilities within the platform. This is especially true for organizations with mature processes that need deeper functionalities like deep skill mapping, robust timesheets, expense tracking, and billing customizations.
In a case where the IT department serves internal customers and operates as a professional service group managing internal projects, then there could be doubts regarding choosing project portfolio management vis-à-vis professional service automation. If one is only looking to track project budget and actuals over a tenure, then portfolio project management can assist. However, in cases where the IT department serves as a profit center and thereby there is a strong need to be in control of project financials, then such organizations may like to look at professional services automation as a solution.
Professional organizations revolve around what their customers are looking for and finding effective ways to serve them. Thereby, an ideal solution is one that is cloud-based responds to these businesses’ concerns, and delivers on the KPIs.
The need for the right implementation partner
Adopting a comprehensive solution like NetSuite needs an industry-focused partner that can help you mitigate and navigate challenges encountered by your organization through extensive consultation and solutions. The implementation partner must be guided by the SuiteSuccess methodology built and vetted for the professional services industry.
As part of seamlessly transitioning to the cloud, one may encounter the need for integration of existing third-party applications with NetSuite. Implementation Partner must particularly have the expertise across integration platforms and capabilities to support any of the two-way integration types, real-time or batch type, which is a typical requirement in the professional services industry.