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Reliance on Manual Processes Stymying Growth of Professional Services Organizations

A recent survey of professional services firms in North America and the UK by Kimble Applications found a worrying overdependence on manual processes and delays in obtaining accurate information on the state of the business within professional services organizations (PSOs).

Fully 28 per cent of survey respondents said Excel was their key management reporting tool, putting laborious and error-prone manual processes at the center of senior management’s ability to get an accurate view of performance. More than half (an average of 57 per cent) reported needing 15 minutes or more to be able to access such vital information as actual and projected revenue, profits, overhead and expenses, cash in the bank, payables total and past due, and forecasted new business, with a small minority requiring days to do so.

Compounding this challenge is the fact that half (51 per cent) of those surveyed are not the senior managers themselves but have been assigned to collect and analyze this information on their behalf. This means that considerably more time must elapse before a final report is placed in the hands of those who need to make decisions about the future direction of the business.

“Fewer than one in 12 reported being able to access the pertinent information in 30 seconds or less, which is astonishing in light of what’s not only technologically feasible today, but what senior leaders of PSOs all acknowledge is mission critical,” explains Sean Hoban, CEO of Kimble Applications. “Real-time access to a single ‘golden source’ of accurate data across all an organization’s functions is of paramount importance to any PSO that wants to continue to grow sustainably.”

He continues: “When that’s in place, it becomes easy to drive operational decision-making down through the company, and empowering people to take decisions is what gets you scale. Senior management cannot continue to be an unintentional bottleneck to growth.”

The survey, carried out in September this year, polled owners, Board members, heads of department and employees of companies that provide services to business, consumer and government.