Why That ERP-based PSA Can’t Solve Your Problem
The professional services industry continues to debate the merits of best in breed vs. all-in-one solutions.
In a previous role at a digital consultancy, we opted to discard many individual tools and replace them with a large, monolithic ERP system. This led to training horror stories, over-promised features, and worst of all: overall business and revenue disruption. What we really needed was Parallax.
Can one tool really do it all?
I don’t think so. Although this is a great selling point for ERPs, most offer poor visibility (at best) into critical metrics. Why? Many ERP systems are needlessly complex; their analytics tools can also be difficult to use for anyone unfamiliar with data and report building. Many times, companies have a hard time determining which questions make sense to ask at their stage, let alone how best to answer them, which makes it difficult to pinpoint areas of concern and develop roadmaps for improvement.
Don’t overwhelm your teams!
I speak from experience when I say that implementing a new time tracking system or project management software can be a nightmare. Training and adoption always takes longer than anticipated, and individual employees can feel overwhelmed by new systems that collect information from every team including sales, human resources, project management, and finance. The sheer scope of data integration can be too much for some people to navigate and digest. This leads to difficulty using the platform making routine tasks more difficult, often leading teams to change their processes to fit the tool instead of using the tool to complement their processes.
Your people then become overwhelmed and eventually, detached – the net result of overloaded employees is disengagement. When people are swamped, they become discouraged, which leads them to start questioning their value and ability to do their job well.
Are your individual teams already doing great work in the tools they love? Do you want your project managers spending the next year learning brand-new tools, or continuing to adopt best practices and become super project managers? Parallax enables the latter. Moral of the story: let your PMs use Asana. Keep on using Harvest for time tracking. Training an entire company on new tools takes time–often six months to an entire year–which diverts efforts from what really matters: creating great work and serving your clients.
Garbage in = garbage out
Additionally, many businesses learn the hard way that ripping and replacing tools won’t improve their data. Good habits are essential – and because we know how overwhelming it can be to completely shift processes, with Parallax, our customer success team works with you on an ongoing and quarterly basis to form those good habits.
Almost every digital services company we engage with is looking for the same thing: they want to predict, with confidence, how the demand for their resources is changing, if they have the capacity to meet that demand, and the ability to invest appropriately. For operations and finance teams, inconsistent data makes forecasting financials across the organization – let alone by account, team, or project – all but impossible. Manual approaches to get this data means it’ll be out of date by the time you’re done.
This “holy grail” of forecasts is possible as long as you have reliable data inputs. In order to ensure good data governance, the tools generating the data need to be used consistently and well. Forcing your people to use tools that they are uncomfortable with or actively reject will likely result in the dreaded “garbage in, garbage out” phenomenon.
Reports and insights at the project level allow finance teams to help adjust project plans or reset expectations before overages or other issues significantly impact financial performance.
With financial forecasting based on sales pipeline and projected financials for work in the backlog, finance teams get real-time insights and can make realistic and timely business decisions.
Disconnected tools that don’t talk to one another keep data and decisions in silos, but pulling actionable financial forecasts with reliable data is a pain. Monolithic ERPs are a massive expense and create disruptive change throughout the organization. Parallax creates a shared perspective across the business by integrating with the tools your team loves while empowering you with accurate data to enable strategic growth. No rip-and-replace, just better and more consistent operations and a shared perspective on how to meet your goals.