Selecting an ERP for Your Professional Services Company

The dynamic nature of professional services companies is a double-edged sword. Their strength lies in talented individuals serving a diverse clientele, but this very fluidity can make managing a growing firm quite tricky. As a professional services company scales beyond its initial founders, keeping track of ever-evolving client needs and projects can quickly become overwhelming.

Enter Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Imagine a central nervous system for your business, unifying all data and functionalities into one platform. This user-friendly software empowers your team with powerful features like data analysis, automation, and standardized processes.

Implementing an ERP can unlock significant advantages for your professional services company. Think of maximizing billable hours by accurately tracking projects and time, minimizing revenue leaks through streamlined billing and invoicing, reducing errors with automated tasks, and boosting overall productivity by freeing up your team to focus on client service.

When considering making an ERP system selection, keep these 5 criterias for professional services firms in mind.

Don't Be Fooled by the "Small Business" Label

The term "Small Business ERP" might seem like it wouldn't apply to your professional services firm. However, the good news is that the definition of an SMB ERP is broader than you might think.

While ERP solutions are certainly valuable for businesses with just a handful of employees and over $1 million in revenue, they're also used by massive corporations and even Fortune 500 companies.

Focus on SMB Offerings for Optimal Fit

In the world of ERP, "Small Business" solutions cater to companies typically generating revenue between $1 million and $300 million annually. If your professional services firm surpasses that mark, you may need a different approach. However, for the majority of growing professional services companies, SMB ERP offerings will provide the best fit for their needs.

 

Choosing a Reliable Vendor is Key

The ERP software landscape can be daunting. While numerous companies offer ERP solutions, a select few dominate the market. This dominance stems from the inherent complexity of ERP systems. Switching providers can be a significant undertaking compared to other software solutions.

Therefore, selecting the right vendor is crucial. Look for a company with a long and proven history of supporting its products. Their expertise and experience will ensure your ERP system continues to function seamlessly and evolve alongside your growing business. While smaller niche players exist, prioritizing a well-established vendor with a strong track record can provide peace of mind and long-term stability for your professional services company.

 

The Power of a Thriving Community

Beyond the vendor's own support offerings, consider the strength of the independent community surrounding the ERP system. Implementation partners, consultants, and other users form a valuable ecosystem that can provide crucial assistance during your ERP journey.

This community plays a vital role in your success. They offer expert advice, help configure the system for your specific needs, and provide ongoing maintenance and support. As your business grows and evolves, the community can offer guidance on adapting the system to new processes and even developing custom functionalities to address unique challenges.

Think of it like this: While the ERP vendor is the core product, the community acts as the supporting framework. For ERP solutions, a robust and active community is far more critical than for most other software types. This emphasis on community support is a key reason why some platforms, like WordPress, have gained such widespread popularity.

 

Prioritize Configurability Over Customization

ERP software boasts vast capabilities, catering to a diverse range of business needs. This versatility has historically led to extensive customization for specific functionalities. However, resist the urge for excessive customization. It can inflate costs, introduce complexity, and potentially deviate from industry best practices.

Instead, prioritize ERP systems that excel in configuration. Configuration allows you to tailor the system to your specific needs using built-in options rather than custom code. This approach offers several advantages for professional services firms. It streamlines implementation, minimizes ongoing maintenance needs, and allows for effortless integration of additional features as your business grows and adapts. By focusing on configurability, you ensure a smooth and efficient ERP experience.

 

Leverage Industry-Specific Solutions

While fully customized ERP solutions for professional services might not be readily available from major vendors, there's a better option. Look for pre-configured industry-specific solutions built upon robust ERP platforms.

These pre-packaged solutions take a proven ERP system and tailor it to the specific needs and best practices of professional services firms. This pre-configuration translates to several advantages:

  • Reduced Costs: Pre-built solutions eliminate the need for extensive customization, resulting in lower upfront costs.
  • Faster Implementation: Streamlined configuration allows for a quicker implementation process, getting your ERP system up and running sooner.
  • Industry Alignment: The pre-configured settings ensure the system is optimized for the workflows and challenges typical of professional services companies. This minimizes the need for adjustments and ensures the ERP is ready to meet your core business needs from the outset.

 

Are There Prepackaged Industry Solutions for Professional Services Companies?

Yes there are, and we’ve developed one of them.

Navigator’s prepackaged industry solution for professional services companies takes ERP for small and fast-growing companies and makes it a turnkey solution tailored for professional services firms. With SAP ERP Solutions delivered by Navigator, professional services businesses get a ready-to-use ERP that’s made by a major ERP vendor, has a vibrant support community, is highly configurable, and is already tailored to the needs of professional services businesses.

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