What keeps business consulting firm executives up at night?
When it comes to the health of the business, what do they really care about? Obviously, it’s a loaded question, but there are business elements common to this sector that drive success. Many of these elements speak to the importance of future-proofing the firm to stay current and competitive.
Companies can swim against the tide at their peril, but the most successful companies embrace the change. The key to minimizing the risk that disruption inherently poses is in future-proofing the organization. And one way to guard against disruption risk is with information management technology.
Here you’ll find four ways information management technology can help prepare business consultancies for a faster, tech-enabled future.
Streamlining Engagements with an Exceptional Information Management Strategy
For consulting companies, engagements and projects are growing more complicated. They are substantial in scope, carried out globally between various parties (internally and sometimes involving subcontractors) and involve many stages and/or milestones. Customers have sensitive expectations that projects should be initiated, carried out, and closed out quickly.
A PwC study of over 10,640 projects found that a tiny, tiny portion of companies (2.5%) completed 100% of their projects successfully. The rest either failed to meet some of their original targets or missed the original budget or deadlines. These realities extort a heavy cost.
When people think about project management, they often only consider the task management aspect — planning, setting milestones, and delegation, for example. This is, of course, very important, but the information management aspect is crucial to project delivery, a facet of project delivery that many might be missing. Most projects in business management consulting are wrapped up in documents.
For those managing the project, they need visibility into what’s happening with the project so they can steer it accordingly and keep close contact with the customer. It’s not enough to have visibility into just tasks, they need to have visibility and control over the project documentation, because that’s where the value is being delivered.
For those executing the project, documentation must easily flow to all those who have stake in the project without messy versioning issues. This cannot happen if information is siloed in email inboxes, Microsoft Teams or Slack, or any other repository. All the project documentation must be in one place and instantly accessible and controlled.
Also, workers need to be aware of what’s next and when their responsibilities kick in. This is often difficult to do when emailing back and forth is how stakeholders know what’s happening with the project.
From a business operational standpoint, an information management strategy can set the foundation for how projects are carried out. Features like workflows and permissions, along with capabilities to automate how projects are set up and closed out, they all contribute to operational efficiency and standardization.
Solutions like M-Files eliminate manual control of documents and deliver automation at key stages in the engagement process:
- Keeps track and displays documentation statuses
- Tracks document versions and maintains a full audit trail describing who has done what and when
- Pushes documents through their lifecycle
- Distributes documentation work to responsible persons
- Secures information through dynamic access control
- Sets up document placeholders whenever a new project has started
- Facilitates efficient collaboration
- Expedites project closeouts and document handovers and information archival
Often, project managers have a difficult time figuring out where engagement documentation stands, who is doing what with these documents, and what needs to happen next. Information management solutions provide a level of documentation clarity, where staff and clients can get the information they need, when they need it
Minimize Labour-Intensive Tasks
In managing projects and engagements with their clients, firms traditionally encounter several repetitive, manual tasks — from data-entry to document filing and everything in between. If a firm can automate many of these tasks through technology, they can free up time and resources to focus on strategic services and increase margins within fixed price, managed services, or subscription services.
Furthermore, labour intensive tasks also serve as a demotivator for highly educated, special-knowledge staff. Staff is everything in business management consulting. It’s their knowledge, skills, and experience that these firms sell. So, it’s best to remove any obstacles from their path.
Automate Client Services & Business Processes
The secret to thriving in the new world of professional services lies in automation, as in other industries. By automating client services in the form of self-service portals and information-sharing solutions, firms can reduce the time spent searching for information and provide a better experience for clients. It all leads to increased margins on existing services by freeing up personnel to focus on value-added tasks.
Opportunities to automate can also be found in standard business processes, like contract management. By enabling workflows with technology, contracts can be managed efficiently from drafting to signature. Automation can also help streamline Backoffice processes like employee onboarding, accounts payable and other otherwise mundane (and manual) office functions.
Information Management as a Fast-Track to Customer Experience Improvement
The expectations of consulting services buyers are changing. They expect better interactions, key information on demand and more efficient ways to manage engagement data. Agile consulting firms can delight their customers with a seamless experience, made possible by an information management strategy.
Consultancies manage a ton of information across vendors, employees, contractors and clients. They need to aggregate that information within the context of a client engagement process to be more efficient.
With multiple systems of record, data can tend to be strewn across multiple repositories — network folders, CRM, ERP, SharePoint, project management systems, employees’ laptops… the list of disconnected data silos goes on and on The firms that can enable their workforce to find and discover relevant information quickly will realize a huge impact on employee productivity and a better customer experience. Smart companies are also utilizing information management platforms like M-Files as a central repository that feeds into a client portal, rendering engagement information available to customers on-demand on a 24/7 basis.
Make Information Security a Fortress
To meet security requirements, consultancies need a flexible information management environment like M-Files that not only adapts to ever-changing regulatory demands, but also can be configured to meet the security demands for each customer.
Companies need systems and procedures in place to ensure that information-access permissions are only given to relevant people with zero-chance of information leak. From an IT perspective, these systems must be easy to maintain, update, and adapt as changes occur — at either the user-permission level (a person leaves the company and permissions need to be changed) or the regulatory level (the regulation changes requiring fundamental changes to the system).
Winning & Retaining Business Rests on a Firm’s Ability to Manage Information.
The most important driver for any business lies in their ability to win and retain business. For business consulting firms, their ability to create operational efficiencies serve as differentiators that propel them in the marketplace.