Kaladi Consulting Services

NetSuite for Professional Services

In professional services organizations, it is imperative to depend on the best of 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 project or contract basis usually, a stark contrast from the traditional business. This makes people and tasks management as 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 command solutions that are tailor-made to respond to these challenges. There is enormous amount of time that goes into administration of tasks and resources management, time that could otherwise be used with the client. To add to it, the global competition inherent to 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, to 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 baselined against the revenue generated from the project. But is the expense captured accurately throughout?

Lack of Insights: Which kind of projects are going right for our company? What billing approach is working best? Entry level applications can leave out critical components like historical data for similar projects from the past. It is only with data insights that one can understand how and how often the company is winning. This in turn become guiding principles in taking strategic decisions on instances like lowering margins on a certain bid and instead focusing on better structured teams to offer services at better price point with faster deliveries vis-vis competition.

Does your data help you decide future projects?

Fed up with the incorrect estimation judgements?

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 solve this concern. Real-time information on resource availabilities, projects and demand forecasts is imperative to making accurate estimates. Over estimation risks losing an engagement and under estimation runs into an unprofitable engagement.

Managing Billing Rates: Going with milestone billing, 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 to present and future projects lead to poor resource utilization resulting in substandard billing utilization and below market revenue yield per person.

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Client Dissatisfaction: Absence of real-time monitoring and inaccurate estimations lead to runaway projects. This reflects of a dysfunctional use of 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 real-time sharing of critical resources, client & project information with stakeholders for faster decision making.

Is 100% Customer Satisfaction not a consistent feat?

Technology Designed for the Services Industry

For the past decade, Cloud technology has become a norm. There is a visible shift from product-centric to solution-centric approach. This expansion of digitalized & automated solutions are the key drivers for investment in Project Automation solutions or Professional Service Automation (PSA)solutions among project and services-based organizations. Services business like accounting firms, legal firms, management consultancy, advertising agencies, digital marketing firms, manpower recruitment agencies are among the few who heavily depend on PSA and 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 the 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?

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 this back-office and CRM capabilities requiring organizations to integrate it from outside. NetSuite has its own ERP and CRM system that fully integrates with best-of-breed PSA offering. This approach suits best for organizations that are considering an ERP system that has PSA capabilities.

NetSuite is one of the rare vendors to offer this combination. 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.

NetSuite Features

Project Management: This 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 with project specific matrices, KPIs, project record, project schedule, resource lists, financial information, and budget.

Resource Management: With real-time project timeline, assign the right resources on the right project based on employee’s skills, experience, interest, 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 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 process 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 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 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 case where the IT department serve the 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 for tracking project budget and actuals over a tenure, then a portfolio project management can assist. However, in case where the IT department serves as a profit centre and thereby there is a strong need to be in control of project financials, then for such organizations they 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 and responds to these business’s 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 solutioning. The implementation partner must be guided by SuiteSuccess methodology built and vetted for the professional services industry.

As part of seamlessly transitioning to the cloud, one may encounter 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 professional services industry.

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