Equip yourself with an ERP to manage your consulting activity in 2023

August 25, 2023

Why adpot an ERP system?

  • Do you use Excel templates to manage your resource planning and your projects? Although these tools are helpful, they are beginning to become limited in a growth context.
  • The different tools you use don't communicate well with each other: one tool to track your contracts and invoicing, another for your expenses, one tool for your holiday schedules, and one for your resource planning.
  • Do you lack visibility on the resource planning or the scheduling of your employees and teams? Do your collaborators have only a limited view of the schedules? Identifying, in real-time, the right person to staff a project according to their availability, vacations, skills, and previous experience is becoming more and more complicated, especially in times of crisis and remote.
  • Do you ever struggle to know the updated profitability standings and forecastings of your projects? Do you ever miss warnings of projects deviating from the budget in terms of time and costs? Or, do you ever have to wait until the end of the period to gain visibility?
  • Does your firm's support team spend at least one whole day a month invoicing clients? Are your tools not able to bill all of your projects in bulk?
  • Managing outsourcing is not easy. Do you need to do double counting to track the time spent by your subcontractors, as well as their costs?

Don't put aside these common industry problems any longer.

How can these issues be addressed to save time?

Today, the most successful consulting companies are those with more mature, more automated processes. A 2019 SPI Research study shows that consulting companies with the most mature processes experience stronger growth. They have utilization rate higher rates, better on-time delivery of projects and higher turnover per employee.

Source: SPI Research – February 2019

Consulting firms are constantly faced with the challenge of getting teams on the same page while delivering projects on time AND cost-effectively.

ERP systems for consulting firms can solve this issue. After all, what wastes time are administrative tasks and pre-sales phase tasks.

  • Resource management
  • Non-billable administrative tasks
  • Billing
  • Business planning

Although important, these tasks are often the cause of income or time loss. ERP systems can automate these tasks and minimize the time spent. At the same time, these systems provide valuable information on project profitability, customer satisfaction, and how to improve completion rates.

ERPs are constantly upgrading and improving their integrated IT solutions; most of large consulting firms differ in the solutions they use.

01. What does an ERP allow you to HAVE?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. This software allows you to manage all processes of a company. ERPs, like Stafiz, have developed a strong presence in project management these last few years and are suitable for professional services firms, such as consulting firms, IT services firms, marketing agencies, etc.

The interfaces are:

  • More customizable
  • Easier to handle
  • Scalable
  • Intuitive and mobile
  • These interfaces are simple and can be used by anyone: managers, project managers, HR, accountants, employees

One advantage of choosing an ERP tool is the ability of the software to understand businesses and adapt to them. The software understands customer problems and focuses on providing the right answers to teams.

a. The main advantages:

  • Simple set up
  • Gets started quickly
  • Adjusts as needed (incorporate more modules, add collaborators, save invoice and quote templates)
  • Full control of the parameters
  • Customizing the tool

b. Process automation:

Because each employee has access to the platform, data will be updated in real-time, and inter-department connection and collaboration improve. 

  • Data linked to proposals allows management to know the turnover forecast.
  • Leave reduces availability which is used for resource planning decisions .
  • Employees who update their time logs and schedules will spark a real-time recalculation of the margins and performance of a project.
  • All billing data is available, and when a project milestone is completed, the invoice is prepared automatically.

c. A tool on the Cloud

A cloud-based ERP for consulting firms will give you a scalable tool that improves month after month. And, there are no price changes.

  • Regularly improved interface
  • Best UX guaranteed
  • New modules installed, etc.

New solutions allow you to:

  • Control your management as easily from your smartphone or tablet as from your in-office PC.
  • Manage your expense reports as you go, even remotely, on the train or in your Uber!

In conclusion, a good ERP provides:

  • More visibility for each employee
  • Significant amount of time saved
  • Process simplification and automation

Stafiz offers you an ERP created specifically for professional services and service companies. More than 10,000 users in 10 countries manage their projects in Stafiz.

Discover Stafiz's ERP

02. What does an ERP system allow you to DO?

An ERP system can help you improve and simplify all your operations, from the pre-sales phase all the way to invoicing and reporting.

a. Pre-sale :

In the ERP CRM feature, you can easily share your database of contacts and organizations. If your ERP is intergraded with your mailbox, you can keep the last exchanges with each contact in each of the contact files; this allows you to pick up discussions where you left off and create a deeper impact on your prospects.

A good ERP also allows you to visualise your sales pipeline: what stage the proposals prepared by your consultancy are at. You can centralize information. Each of your proposals contains the work plan, goals, follow-ups of the time spent by your sales staff, and the subcontracting costs + expenses related to this pre-sales phase.

Discover pre-sales with Stafiz

b. Anticipate needs thanks to better visibility

Thanks to good visualization, your ERP allows you to anticipate the needs of your team and distribute suitable work efficiently.

This tool from resource planning allows you to see the availability of your consultants. You can select the right employees to assign according to a period, a project category, and skill requirement. It becomes easier to assign people at the beginning or during a project.

Discover the resource planning with Stafiz

c. After starting a project:

An ERP tool allows you to clearly display the progress of your projects. With time tracking, or Activity Reports (AR), your employees can report the time spent on each internal assignment or project. If your ERP is interfaced with Google or Microsoft calendars, you can automate this time tracking. The information is retrieved from the calendar, and the employee only has to check it before submitting it. A real time saver!

During a project, an ERP tool, like Stafiz, allows you to manage expenses, from the submission of expense reports to invoicing and calculating project margin impacts. The ERP tool allows you to monitor the progress and margin of your projects very precisely.  It also informs you of project risks or forecasted deviations from the budget.

Discover project management with Stafiz

d. Automated invoicing

Whether you are working on a project with fixed-price invoicing, or a project without fixed-price invoicing, the ERP enables your support teams to fully automate this process. If it has a mass invoicing tool, it will allow for overall planned invoice tracking, adjusting, and sending in just a few clicks.

Finally, a good ERP system should enable your consulting firm to identify immediately and in real-time the opportunities for growth and improved billing. Reports on projected turnover, margins, utilization rate, and resource planning rates allow you to improve your company's profitability, and to know where the problems are coming from. Alerts on unpaid invoices allow you to chase up your customers quickly. An ERP gives you more confidence in management, and the maturity of the processes leads to increased profitability of operations.

Discover invoicing with Stafiz

03. What ROI is attainable with an ERP that helps manage your business?

Implementing an ERP tool must bring you a satisfactory ROI, therefore, it is important to weigh up the costs of these tools against all their benefits before adopting them to your business practices.

Here are some of the pros to be taken into account when calculating the ROI:

Time saved with a CRM (sales and management):

  • No longer fetching proposals but having them centralized in a daily management tool
  • Quotation creation directly in the platform. No double entry when the proposal goes to the project stage. Data and workload plans are automated.
  • Easy sharing of contact databases and organisations

Time saved on expense management (all employees):

  • Track your expenses from your smartphone as they happen 
  • Validations from your smartphone
  • Centralized expense reports that can be used directly by support teams
  • Decentralization of expense claims (follow-up with probative value)
  • Calculation of the real-time decision impacts on the project
  • Automated tracking and invoicing of billable expenses
  • Ability to automate accounting data extraction

Time saved on resource planning (all employees):

  • Have visibility on your resource planning or that of his team at a glance
  • View your project schedule directly from your usual calendars (Microsoft)
  • Monitor and plan in real time with the resource planning teams
  • Simple identification and assignment of the right employees

Time saved on project monitoring and management (from the project manager to the management and support teams):

  • Real-time cost tracking
  • Turnover monitoring on a percentage of completion basis
  • Management of cut-offs and closing reports
  • Automated time tracking
  • Automatic updates of ARCs
  • Automated leave requests

Improved profitability (management):

  • Identification of financial risks and decision support that contribute to an overall improvement in profitability
  • Help optimize workload to improve overall business profitability
  • Access to all consolidated reports or by division

We hope we have convinced you to opt for this solution! In 2023, everyone is reinventing themselves, adapting, being creative and innovating. With an ERP you will be able to do all these things and take the time to do what really matters for your firm and your employees. Don't waste another minute!

We designed Stafiz to provide the benefits and functionalities presented specifically for professional services and service companies. Find out more in detail via the link below.

Discover Stafiz's ERP