Forward-Focused Reporting: The Key To Future Success In The Middle East
Regulatory risk and the burden of reporting are the two most significant challenges identified by professional services firms working in the Middle East.
That’s according to Deltek’s recent global research – compiled from interviews with 700 Architecture, Engineering and Consulting firms, including some in the UAE – and contained in the recently published report ‘Insight to Action – The future of the professional services industry’.
Architecture, Engineering and Consulting firms around the world agree that changes to legislation and risk profiles pose major headaches for 73% of survey respondents globally, but that figure jumped to 82% of UAE respondents, where VAT was introduced earlier this year.
The research suggests that many local firms are facing increasing pressure to remain compliant in this new regulatory environment.
Professional Services Trends Report 2018
Reporting Over Your Shoulder
Unfortunately, when it comes to compliance reporting, the focus is skewed backwards, meaning that the data collected doesn’t provide sufficient insight to guide forward-facing decisions and business management projections, both of which are essential to maintain profitability.
Reporting and compliance are onerous tasks for Middle Eastern firms, with more than 86% of respondents admitting they spent hundreds of hours producing reports, against a global overage of 58%.
In essence, Deltek’s findings suggest that Middle Eastern firms don’t yet have the right information at their fingertips to set them up for future success. That results in a sizeable knowledge gap in what is already a very challenging operating environment.
'Middle Eastern firms don’t yet have the right information
at their fingertips to set them up for future success'
Which People Do You Need, And When?
The forecasting of human resource requirements is one of the key business areas most impacted by this gap. Globally, 53% of CEOs don’t know whether they should be hiring or firing in three to four months, but that figure rose to two-thirds of respondents in the UAE.
And half of all local respondents cited workforce capacity and planning as significant challenges; a much more pronounced result than the 38% of global respondents who expressed similar concerns.
What does that mean in real life?
66% of local firms conceded they were not staffing the right teams for their projects, and 60% stated they hired too late for growth, compared to global averages of 46% and 44% respectively.
The Juggle Between Old And New Clients
The need to remain competitive in a fast-changing market was another significant concern for professional services firms in the Middle East, where 42% of respondents said they wouldn’t have enough time to effectively respond to RFPs/RFQs over the coming year, versus 35% globally.
And more than half of UAE respondents (56%) expressed concern about their ability to effectively respond to demands from existing clients over the next five years, against a global average of 48%.
One of the best ways to tackle these major shortfalls in business acumen is to adopt the right digital tools. Deltek’s research found that UAE professional service firms are steeping towards a better future in greater numbers than their global counterparts: 72% of local respondents used practice management software, compared to 63% globally.
This bodes well for the future, but it’s a matter of collecting and compiling the right types of data, and then analysing it to effectively guide the next moves. In short, rather than using reporting purely for compliance purposes, it’s important for professional services firms to understand and apply the results of past performance to guide future performance and profitability.
If It Was That Easy, We Would Have Done It By Now
At Deltek, we know that our clients sometimes face resistance from members of their teams when they make the leap towards digital transformation, and we can help make the path less stressful with a range of supporting services that bring your entire team on what will be a significant journey.
That’s especially important in the Middle East. According to our research UAE professional service firms ranked ‘change management’ as the number one barrier to change, compared to globally where ‘change management’ ranked fourth.
2018 Industry Report
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