Enterprise Agility With Postmodern ERP Is Key To Unlocking Success

Posted by Neil Davidson on May 5, 2017

Modern ERP Deltek

Being agile is vital for professional services firms of all sizes, but most notably large enterprises across sectors such as advertising, consulting, audit and advisory, IT and engineering, for the simple reason that if they fail to meet the expectations of their clients, there are plenty of predatory competitors all vying for the work.

Deltek works with the world’s leading professional services firms, including the five largest audit and advisory firms, 10 of the world’s biggest engineering companies, and the three largest holding companies in the advertising industry, and are seeing first-hand the impact that increasing client expectation and the pressure to improve customer experience is having on their sector.

Responding to changing market conditions

Enterprise agility enables these organisations to respond rapidly to emerging trends and changing market conditions, largely being driven by clients, but it also optimizes the time to value for their stakeholders, whether partners, private equity owned or publicly listed.

Enterprise agility also has huge implications for firm’s global activities, for example, their ability to deliver capability in a new geographical location, which could entail deploying hundreds of skilled people in a new overseas office at very short notice, whilst also ensuring that the internal infrastructure is in place to manage their project and knowledge based work. All of this has to be seamless, because client expectation demands it. Supporting this operationally requires a rock solid technology foundation that provides full transparency, speed and a robust business infrastructure.

Clients are in the driving seat pushing firms to do more for less, and demanding increasingly complex commercial models based on things like project outcomes and shared risk. A typical enterprise-size global professional services firm can have between 10 and 15 variations of revenue recognition to manage, all to be delivered by a flawless invoicing system. 

Enterprise agility is absolutely key to meeting the demands of your clients in terms of how they want to work with you.

Hiring and retaining talent

Second only to customer experience as a business priority is hiring and retaining top talent. This impacts directly on the ability of professional services firms to deliver on their operational commitments. 

Why do we see talent leaving professional services firms? Because the talent proposition and the business operations are not joined up. People want visibility of the work they’ll be doing from week to week, and to know they are adding value to their organization, whilst establishing and progressing their own careers. 

By aligning talent management plans with business operations, professional services companies will give their talent no compunction to leave the firm. Furthermore, aligning your talent’s values with overarching business priorities is imperative because outperforming rivals requires urgency and diligence from throughout the organization.

Managing changing regulations

Another important reason for global professional services organizations to have a robust technology foundation is to enable them to manage the constantly changing regulatory environment. These changes can range from moderately complex, for example changes to company accounting practices, to immense, as in the case of the UK’s impending exit from the EU or the 2014 changes to revenue recognition practices for customer contracts.

Transitioning a global firm with potentially thousands of people and operations in dozens of markets is a huge challenge, particularly in light of the sobering Gartner forecast that only 30 per cent of digital transformations will succeed. However, those that are delivering on their digital transformation goals have the key foundations in place and have rightly focused on people, process and technology, in harmony, to drive the desired outcome.

Utilising postmodern ERP

Cloud technology creates tremendous opportunity for a business to transition its technology to an enterprise service backed by contractual guarantees on performance and security, but in order to leverage these opportunities, the business and the people in it need to change and adopt industry-leading practice.

To achieve fastest time to value, they also need technology partners with an inherent understanding and a business technology capability aligned with the innovators in their sector.

Mott MacDonald is a global engineering, management and development consultancy with over 16,000 people delivering projects in Africa, Asia Pacific and Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, and South Asia – 150 countries in all. It sees enterprise agility and rapid response to business change as key to maintaining its high standards, and is partnering with Deltek to transform their internal business infrastructure with a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This is driven by a business imperative to deliver consistency across all their projects, clients and global entities, now and in the future.

“Mott MacDonald’s leadership team has made ‘Digital’ a top strategic priority for everyone in the organisation as it is a critical factor in the success of any business transformation. To be at the forefront of our industry and digital thinking we must focus on understanding our clients and their customers, to ensure we deliver outcomes that add value. This requires aligning the right combination of expertise across sectors and geographies. To enable this we’re investing in the latest technology to maximize collaboration and connected thinking. Clients will benefit from our own internal data excellence, seen in the way we innovate to support their needs during delivery.” Darren Russell, Digital Transformation Director.

Mr Russell added: “We have a mobile workforce and our people are always on the move. To share and support our customers’ ambitions we need a business system that is equally mobile and maximizes the value of our people. Using the system to identify and allocate the right people to the right projects at the right time, we can help our clients to establish the steps needed to successfully deliver their business strategy.”

Speed of implementation, enhancing joint venture projects, transitioning admin processes, such as quality assurance and billing to be more automated and increase cross functional collaboration are seen as valuable additional benefits of Mott MacDonald’s digital transformation.

“Getting the business system right is essential,” added Mr Russell. “You need agility in your business processes to consistently deliver projects that meet client expectations in a world of change and for us that is key.”

Deltek clients provide regular feedback on how enterprise agility has positively impacted their business operations. Marianne Blixt, chief finance officer at Grant Thornton Sweden states: "We can see where we make money. When expanding our service portfolio it is especially important we are able to analyze engagement and client profitability", while Carl Vad Jensen, chief finance officer at Atkins said that it had optimized the allocation of their core competences, ensuring they are used on the right projects, which has ‘a positive effect on the bottom line.’

A decade from now, the market leading agile professional services firms will be those who invested in a solid foundation, a single integrated global backbone to meet the geographical and project demands of an evolving client base and to deliver on client experience.

With the right business technology platform they are equipped with an aptness to hedge against uncertainty, make well-defined strategic moves with lightning-speed capability to respond to a rapidly evolving market and customer base.