To remain competitive as a professional services provider for rapidly growing and evolving companies, consultants have to deal with an ever-more-complex business environment. Very often, today’s projects have a broad and large scope, involving global locations, multiple stakeholders, and of course, high client expectations.
These days, meeting those expectations often requires beating the odds. For instance, we reported in our eBook about future-proofing a consulting practice that less than three percent of businesses said they successfully completed all their projects.
2 Keys to Improving Consulting Firm Performance
Typically, projects that didn’t meet their goals either failed to hit some targets or exceeded budgets or time schedules. Certainly, professional consultants work with project management to anticipate and plan for obstacles; however, nobody can make good decisions without timely access to the right information flow. The right people need access to required information at the right time. In turn, they need to have a way to share, collaborate, and even alert others to required actions. That brings you to the two essential features your toolkit has to bring to the table: visibility and information flow.
Projects generate a lot of documents. Some obvious examples include contracts, memos, letters, specs, spreadsheets, and receipts. With most companies, and particularly with projects involving multiple stakeholders, you might find these documents stored in such places as PC hard drives, databases, or cloud servers.
In order to make good, rapid decisions, it’s increasingly important to ensure employees have access to a diverse set of documents that could be stored in multiple places. Since consulting firms rely heavily upon their intellectual property as an asset, it’s particularly important for these professionals to demonstrate that they know how to access and control all their information, no matter how scattered it might be.
As a consultant, you may also have struggled with information accessibility in another way. You may sometimes work at your client site, in your local office, or more commonly these days, at home. Not only do you need a system that gives you visibility at your desk but one that allows access from different devices and from just about anywhere. No matter where you are, the right system and an internet connection will give you the same productivity you would enjoy inside the headquarters building.
It’s not enough to just have information accessible and available to improve business processes. Typically, documents need to get approved or edited before moving on to the next step. Delays or confusion because activity is managed out of Outlook and an attachment got missed in an email folder can cost valuable time. This, in turn, will impact costs and budgets. As a solution to this common problem, good information management systems can deploy automatic alerts, so the responsible person knows that it’s time to attend to their task.
It’s not enough to simply keep information moving through the system. You also need audit trails and version control, so you can track down the history of any documents in question. That way you won’t just have a static view but a 360-degree view of a document’s history. If something changes, you can figure out exactly when and how much it changed.
This also helps prevent the sort of versioning errors that occur so commonly with dozens of emailed attachments getting sent to and reviewed by multiple people. For instance, if you email a document to six people to ask for edits, and then you get back six edited versions, how much time will it take you to review, consolidate, and compile all of those changes back into something coherent? Wouldn’t it save time and make it easier to avoid errors if you had the ability to view one source document with all comments and changes logged?
How M-Files Will Transform Your Professional Consulting Firm into a Digital Pro
Just some features of an intelligent information management system like M-Files include:
- Distribution of documents to responsible people to keep them moving through their lifecycle process
- Audit trails, version controls, and certified security with sophisticated role setting
- Intelligent search features that can find documents anywhere
- The ability to set editing rules to minimize errors
Very often, the most difficult part of a project consists of figuring out the status of current tasks and who needs to step up next. Not only can M-Files answer these questions, but it can also keep information flowing from one person to the next and help teams adhere to efficient business processes. Version controls and editing features help minimize errors and if they do happen, track them down. Nobody needs to waste time searching for documents in multiple systems when M-Files allows for rapid and complex federated searches of all information from one interface. Add in remote access with certified security, and you have a system that can transform your consulting business.
Not only will you have a better handle on the most complex projects, but you’re also bound to impress your clients with your digital-savvy. To see M-Files in action, contact us today for a demo or free trial.