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Enterprise Resource Planning integrates all facets of an organisation to improve efficiency, and provides detailed insight that will allow important business decisions to be based on facts rather than guesswork.

This article was sponsored by Deltek

How often do you find the time to step back and assess how effective your internal business systems and processes are? Probably never. We all know the drill: everyday priorities take up all our time when running a prospering business. However, the consequence of not putting time aside to assess these processes is that you risk the good health of your business. 

Without such robust processes in place, you are likely to spend too much time on inefficient, profit-sucking administrative tasks, instead of spending time on what you are best at as a business – namely servicing your clients. The added bonus of this increased client time is that you’re adding billable time to your business.

Successful firms often experience this challenge. In the past, ad hoc processes worked well, but with a constantly growing client base more control is needed to keep the entire business running efficiently. Technology is the answer, but not just any piece of technology.

There is a lot of guidance available about various new pieces of technology and how they might help businesses, but the key question is: which one will really make a difference and contribute towards the organisation’s success? Well, when it comes to increasing efficiency and achieving a new level of profitability that will improve growth, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an essential tool. ERP is business management software that enables an organisation to integrate a number of applications across the business into one easy-to-manage system. It integrates all facets of an organisation to improve efficiency and provides detailed insight that will allow important business decisions to be based on facts rather than guesswork. 

Here are five steps to achieving profitability and growth with ERP:

1. Get a clear picture of what a profitable client looks like

For project-based businesses, it is absolutely crucial to have a clear picture of what types of work are most profitable for your bottom-line growth. An ERP solution can improve this understanding as it provides real-time insight into the revenue and costs of each project. This allows Project Managers(PMs) to closely monitor budget vs actual while the work is being carried out so that adjustments can be made immediately to steer the project back on time and budget. 

2. Maximise your most valuable asset

The most valuable asset of any project-based company is their staff. ERP solutions are designed to optimise their productivity and in turn, profitability. Resource Planning tools help increase the efficiency of staff by giving company executives and PMs the ability to make informed decisions about how they can be best utilised. Key employee attributes can be monitored in real-time such as: current workload, skills and previous project experience. This information enables PMs to assemble the most productive teams to deliver client projects.

3. Eliminate spreadsheet turmoil

As a growing business, you don’t want to waste time with tens (if not hundreds) of spreadsheets holding important client and project data. Recent research by financial firm F1F9 found that 88 percent of spreadsheets contain errors which means that your company could be making business-critical decisions based on potentially inaccurate and untimely information. If this data is stored within a number of different siloed legacy data capture and management tools, the right insight to make business-critical decisions can be hard to find. 

This can frustrate staff as a great deal of their time can be wasted searching through disparate systems and inaccurate data. At its heart, project-based ERP does away with spreadsheets and provides an easy to use interface with far more detail through consolidated real-time data and insights. Don’t try and build your business with Excel, accelerate it with ERP.

4. Get real-time insight into your business performance

Having a place to store all your business information is useful, but the true value of an ERP system comes into play when using the data to create actionable reports and tasks to help your firm achieve its goals. Having access to real-time insight into key areas of performance such as revenue, profit or proposal win rates is crucial if you want to improve results. Potential pitfalls can be avoided by using this insight to plan ahead and empower the business. 

5. Robust resource planning leads to successful project delivery

After you have won new client business, you need to decide how to turn the ideas discussed in the pitch into reality through successful project delivery. ERP systems will track key attributes of each employee such as current workload, skills and previous experience, so you can put together a team that will deliver the work on time and within budget – a key part of maintaining profitability. 

Here at Deltek we regularly see SMBs like yours come to us after a growth spurt. In such instances, your existing business processes might have started to get out of control, resulting in systems that don’t give a consistent overview of your overall business operations. In such cases, creating a single, unified system that manages time, projects and finances together can give you back the clarity and transparency you need – insight which will allow you to continue growing.

It is vital that you find the time to assess how efficient your current business processes are, as the benefits are significant if not to say crucial.

Once you have the capability to view critical information in real-time across each area of the business it will be hard to understand how you ever managed without it. Profitability and growth are often the most likely things to keep business owners awake at night, so ensure you have a system in place to make informed business decisions that will continuously handle these challenges head on.

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