Written by: Elliott Ichimura
For professional services firms doing business today, there is a new normal: expanding into new arenas in response to increasingly demanding clients. This means employing an increasingly diverse talent pool scattered across multiple regulatory jurisdictions and deploying the right talent in a targeted manner across client engagements in multiple markets. And the support systems within a firm—from the CFO’s office to HR to IT—have to find ways to keep pace with these changing needs of the business.
Beyond compliance and reporting, how can the CFO’s office (and CIO and HR) respond to the demands of stakeholders within the firm? People, process, and technology assets of the firm need to evolve at the pace of the business—to respond quickly to the changing needs of the P&L owners who are driving the business. To date, this has been a challenge.
For instance, if your firm needs to acquire a business in order to achieve growth (to follow a client, say, or enter a new market)—can you quickly integrate the data and information from a different system and make it part of the fabric of the firm? How fast could you rearrange a business unit, in order to meet new priorities? What would it take to reorganize people and the systems that they have access to, retrain people accordingly, and so on? How quickly can HR and IT respond to such a need? If the answer to either of these examples is a year and a half of consulting time, that’s not good enough—by then, the needs will be different and the opportunity lost.
From its headquarters in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and offices across the United States, and in Europe, Australia, and the Philippines, Computer Aid understands these issues first hand. As the firm expanded into new markets, the task of aggregating operational and financial data became increasingly difficult because the homegrown ERP system they used was based on 15 individual systems and more than 200 spreadsheets.
Explains Andy McIntyre, CFO at Computer Aid, “We ended up with a system that required the equivalent of six full-time people to manage and support.” But finding a solution to that acquisition sprawl was perplexing. “I came from organizations that used SAP and Oracle. These alternatives are costly; would have given us, essentially, a ‘process-in-a-box’; and lacked the option to tailor them affordably, if at all, to match our way of doing business.”
With an explicit commitment to simplicity and agility, Microsoft designs software and cloud-based services that can help businesses be truly dynamic and inspire people to a higher level of commitment, innovation, and leadership and, in turn, help businesses and people realize their full potential.
Since deploying a Microsoft Dynamics solution, Computer Aid has cut its billing cycle in half and reduced ERP support costs by 60 percent. Computer Aid consolidated financial and business management of all its operating units in the solution, which means they can deliver highly responsive client service and manage operations confidently and profitably, and be ready for the next change.
Post originally written for Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/microsoftdynamics/2013/02/22/agile-adaptation-firm-administration-for-professional-services/