Why implement an ERP for professional services companies?

November 23, 2022

1 - What is an ERP software for a professional services company?

The definition of ERP is as follows: Enterprise Resource Planning.

Behind the acronym lies a more precise definition of what an ERP is. It's software that enables you to manage a whole range of business processes on a single platform. An ERP is therefore a management software solution designed to facilitate business management.

There are many types of ERP adapted to every kind of business. The functionalities and contributions of the ERP will vary according to the users' needs. An ERP for a professional services company allows for the management of activities ranging from resource management to invoicing / invoice production. This type of ERP only offers benefits adapted to professional services companies; for example, stock management, focused on the sale of goods rather than the provision of services, does not benefit. 


Discover our ERP guide for even more details!


ERP for service companies will offer the following functionalities :

  • Employee management
  • Pre-sales management
  • workload and resource management
  • Time and task management
  • Project management
  • Expense management
  • Leave management
  • Contract management
  • Billing management
  • Financial reporting


An ERP can also offer CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functions to manage sales processes.


2 - What are the advantages of an ERP software for a professional services company?


You can expect 3 major benefits from ERP:

a. Save time thanks to process automation

ERP automates the processes of a service company. At the same time, it considerably reduces the time spent working on these processes.

By creating workflows (task flows), ERP enables actions to be distributed easily and automatically. For example, an employee submitting an expense claim will not have to send the details to the approver himself. ERP organizes the approval circuit right through to automated processing in finance.

As each process is systematically automated, repetitive tasks are reduced for all ERP users. Everyone gains in time and productivity. The greatest productivity gains are achieved by administrative managers. Several working days per month can be saved.


b. Simplifies processes

In addition to automating tasks, ERP simplifies processes. By decentralizing tasks and connecting users, processes are better organized and optimized. ERP implementation is often synonymous with process review. This enables us to identify opportunities for simplification, for example by reducing unnecessary steps in a process, or reorganizing it to make it more efficient.

As users can move tasks forward from a distance, it simplifies organization by encouraging asynchronous work, carried out by the right people at the right time.


c. All information available in real time

The huge advantage of ERP is its ability to provide real-time visibility of business activity. By connecting all business data to each other, the software provides the right information, according to need, and offers indicators to monitor and improve company performance.

For example, pre-sales information will be displayed alongside sales data already ordered, to better anticipate forecasting. The analysis of project margins will take into account employee salaries, as well as purchases reported by another module, to display actual margins.

An ERP for a service company can display key indicators, such as utilization rate staff members, project margins, income statements by activity, sales achieved by each employee, etc...

ERP provides visibility on actual performance, normally with the possibility of filtering information according to criteria (period, activity perimeter, etc.). When the software also includes schedule management and resource planning, it can provide visibility on forecasted performance.


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3 - Setting up ERP software, how does it work?

Deploying an ERP system may seem like a daunting task. But it's actually easier than it sounds. The ERP publisher's teams are always on hand to help customers get started, and to ensure that the changeover goes smoothly.

Timescales vary according to size and complexity, but for ERP systems designed for service companies, implementation projects generally take between 1 and 4 months.


Step 1: Understanding needs and decisions

Step 1 is the scoping phase: we need to understand how the different processes work, and validate whether there are opportunities to improve and simplify them. This involves establishing the various workflows and their stages, then defining how these processes will be carried out in the ERP system.

It is also necessary to establish the custom fields that will be created in the ERP. Most ERP programs are highly customizable. It's important to review this customization layer so that you can import the right level of detail right from the start. For example, each company tracks different information on its customers: the sectors are not the same, and the terms used to classify them may be specific. The fields in the customer files therefore need to be aligned in terms of personalization.

The next step is to define the right data import strategy. Generally speaking, when deploying a new ERP system, historical data is imported to ensure that it is up to date. It is then possible to make comparative analyses with past performance. The data import strategy defines which data is to be imported, and in what order, so that when the go-live comes, everyone will find the data consistent and the changeover as smooth as possible.


Step 2: Settings and data import

Once the data import strategy has been clarified, the existing data must be transferred to the ERP system. Generally, these database imports are carried out directly by Excel, which simplifies processing. All you have to do is match existing fields with new ERP fields. Editors will often help you with this, or even do it for you, as the work is much simpler when you have a good knowledge of how databases work.

In addition to imports, you'll also need to configure the software to meet your specific needs: creating teams and roles, integrating profile skills, updating vacation balances, setting up profile-specific rights and access... there's no shortage of settings to adjust access so that everything runs smoothly at go-live. Once again, you're not left to your own devices. You'll be supported by your ERP publisher's consulting teams.


Stage 3: Go-live and training

Finally, once all the data has been entered and a acceptance test has been carried out, the go-live stage begins.

Access is given to employees, and training is provided to enable each type of profile to become autonomous as quickly as possible.

This stage is key to managing change. You need to ensure that all profiles can easily get to grips with the system. Once again, the support provided by the ERP publisher's teams is key to providing training and answers to users' questions.

Finally, you need to schedule regular check-ups with the support teams, especially in the first few weeks, as this is when most questions arise. You need to make sure you get enough bandwidth from the support teams, so you don't get stuck and make any necessary parameter adjustments.




If you are a consulting firm, find more information specific to your industry:

ERP systems for consulting firms: a tool made for you!


If you are an IT services company, find more information specific to your industry:

 Stafiz is made for you: ERP for IT Services