5 Stumbling Blocks That Hold Services Businesses Back From Growth

The world is changing and services organisations are having to navigate and adapt to the unique and ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic.

It has caused a massive global economic shock that economists describe as three times worse than 2008’s financial crisis. Additionally, workforces are learning how to deliver services from outside their usual working environment. Andy Campbell, global solution evangelist at FinancialForce, shares his insight on the effect this is having and how firms can overcome their new difficulties.

Pre-pandemic, businesses were already facing external pressures to adapt. The transition to a services economy, and an increased expectation for high-quality customer experience moved the goal posts for many firms. This combination of external factors has necessitated companies to make changes on a scale and a rate never seen before. Those that fail to make the necessary changes run the risk of being left behind.

Many companies have started to adopt cloud-based systems to enhance specific business functions and processes, most notably in the front office. However, thus far they have been unable to combine all their activities in the cloud. While it is a step in the right direction to see this increased focus on process optimisation, organisations will keep suffering from inefficiencies until they unite around one overarching cloud strategy.

Broadly speaking, there are five key pain points that businesses must address in order to thrive in the future.

Antiquated and unreliable processes

There are many difficulties when it comes to operating a global enterprise. For instance, regional teams may have their own unique local capabilities and requirements. This results in individualised local tactical solutions being developed that run side-by-side with the systems that the company uses on a global scale.

Tensions often arise between the delivery level, where quick fixes take place, and the global level, where greater consistency is required. This disjointed approach to applications development results in inefficient business processes and centralised solutions that are antiquated, difficult to maintain and inflexible.

There are many difficulties when it comes to operating a global enterprise.

The speed of business change continues to increase and out-of-sync processes slow down a firm’s ability to respond. For example, a fragmented systems architecture usually compromises the quality and timeliness of data, causing decisions to be delayed as well as ill-informed. A united strategy is required to oversee the entire opportunity-through-delivery process.

Fragmented customer service

With businesses in all sectors becoming increasingly customer-focused, elevating customer experience should be central to decision making. Using spreadsheets and bolt-on custom-built software to oversee the delivery process is an inadequate approach. Such short-term solutions are limited in their effectiveness, and they also restrict an organisation’s ability to pivot when faced with changes to the needs of both the market and customers.

Nowadays, employees from across the business come together when working on projects, while instantaneous interactions with customers are required for success. By deploying a single system to oversee the whole opportunity-through-delivery process, an organisation can deliver cohesion and unity throughout the whole customer journey.

Separate data for front and back office

For many companies, the front and back office have not always seen eye-to-eye and when conflicts arise, it is often because of the different systems and processes they use. In an ideal world, the front and back office would combine their datasets, providing everyone with a consistent 360-degree view of the enterprise that includes customer, operational and financial data. However, the reality of the situation is that the front and back office are often siloed, meaning datasets are often nothing alike in terms of accuracy and detail. This has the potential to compromise decision making, hinder the growth of the business and limit the development of fresh new offerings.

By opening up the pathway for information to be shared between the front and back office, companies can align the data between the two and ensure that they are working in tandem, thus eliminating any obstacles to growth.

In an ideal world, the front and back office would combine their datasets, providing everyone with a consistent 360-degree view of the enterprise that includes customer, operational and financial data.

Lack of clarity in ongoing projects

Many organisations need to manage complex projects, with dispersed teams, and project managers who often have their own idiosyncratic means of monitoring progress. This results in employees completing their tasks ‘side systems’, which are invariably poorly integrated across the enterprise.

There are many problems associated with not having an organisation-wide view of ongoing activities, such as poor visibility of project progress, lack of clarity over resource availability and limited understanding of the true cost of project delivery.

Optimising the delivery of service projects, both internal and external, requires a robust platform for management and automation. The impact in terms of both resource utilisation and the effectiveness of project delivery are considerable and for any services business this can translate into significant competitive advantage.

Revenue leakage

Revenue leakage is a constant thorn in the side of many organisations and one of the major issues is that it can appear at so many points in the customer lifecycle. Additionally, if you’re not actively looking for revenue leakage it can go overlooked until it’s too late. Hence why it’s often referred to as a silent killer of businesses.

COVID-19 has exposed gaps in both existing systems and processes. Whilst individually these gaps may appear small, the combined effect in terms of lost revenue and reduced customer service can be considerable.

Issues with data entry and disconnected systems are just two of the many causes of revenue leakage and they typically result in process errors, duplications, reworks and delays. For those organisations that do not deploy a single integrated system to oversee business functions such as planning, producing, and selling, they run the risk of leaking revenue.

However, by utilising the right cloud solution, companies can seamlessly tie the front and back office together, balance real-time resource demand against resource capacity, forecast more effectively into the future, and deliver more predictable business growth. The pace of change is quickening, and in this services economy even the largest firms need to start becoming more flexible and agile.

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