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Transform your professional services business with a cloud ecosystem

March 25, 2021

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Implementing a digital ecosystem is pivotal to the effective operations and growth of your business.

As advancements in technology continue to hurtle us further into a digitised world, it’s officially time to say goodbye to the old Excel spreadsheet and join the dots between systems to make it easier (and less stressful!) to manage your business performance.

Most business owners know this, but many fear that jumping into a systems integration or implementation is an expensive and complex process. And sometimes it is. But it’s an important undertaking, and our experience tells us that with proper planning, risks are minimised, staff are more likely to get on board, and the implementation process runs more smoothly as a whole.

But what exactly does an effective systems ecosystem look like for professional services businesses? We take you through the process using some of our favourite tools as an example: Xero, WorkflowMax, HubSpot and PowerBI.

But first… remember that it’s all about your people

Some professional services businesses may be reluctant to adopt new technology. After all, it's an industry that has traditionally relied on its people. But it’s important to note that technology needs to work with your people, not against them. Technology should enhance how your people work, enabling them to run their projects more efficiently, collaborate more closely, deliver more engaging client experiences, and make better and more informed decisions.

That’s why it’s critical that you get your staff on board and that they feel confident using the software on a daily basis. Ensuring that your systems, people and processes are working in harmony will help you get the most out of your people, and give them more time to focus on other higher value activities.

Get to the heart of your financials with WorkflowMax and Xero

WorkflowMax is just one of many tools used to streamline business operations, but when it comes to job management, it’s one of the best. We’ve implemented the software for many businesses wanting to better track employee productivity and efficiency, project scope, and profitability. WorkflowMax helps to simplify tasks that would otherwise eat away at valuable time, and provide you with great insights into what’s working and what isn’t.

While WorkflowMax enables businesses to record and report on the profitability of individual projects at the gross margin level, it doesn’t provide insight into the net profitability and financial performance of the business as a whole. That’s where Xero comes in. A powerful solution that gives users access to full-function accounting through a simple interface, Xero enables businesses to budget, manage accounts receivable and accounts payable, staff payroll, overhead costs and of course, business cash flow.

And the best thing about Xero? The seamless integration with WorkflowMax makes analysing all angles of your business easier than ever. Together, the two systems give you a comprehensive view on the financial core of your business. Connecting the two systems means you get real-time data on the profitability of your jobs, and your business financials as a whole.

WorkflowMax users are easily able to generate invoices based on hours worked, costs accrued or prices quoted on any given project. Invoices are then synced to Xero, approved and sent. Similarly, customer payments and costs are synced automatically between the two systems, so job and business profitability is always based on the most up-to-date and accurate data, and billing is that much easier. It also means less double handling, fewer errors, and a whole lot of saved time.

Get your business seen with HubSpot and feed WorkflowMax with new jobs

HubSpot is another great tool for your business digital ecosystem. It grants you access to a full CRM system, wrapped up in Marketing, Sales, and Service hubs that provide an end-to-end customer service platform.

While at its heart, HubSpot helps you to effectively manage your client database, communications and sales opportunities, its native integration with software like Gmail and Outlook makes things like scheduling appointments and meetings a bonus. Marketing and sales insights enable you to see what content your clients are engaging with and drills into campaign performance so you can assess what might have missed the mark or not performed as expected. HubSpot gives businesses access to valuable marketing tools, including email, social media, ads and website management, enabling you to closely monitor how your business delivers customer service and maintains client relationships.

With HubSpot, you’re in full control of any leads and deals your business generates. Users can closely monitor opportunities that flow through the pipeline, track the experiences your clients have as they interact with your business, and nurture your leads through marketing to attract new clients and strengthen and build upon your relationships with existing clients.

HubSpot integrates with WorkflowMax, so once a deal is finalised in HubSpot, it can be immediately converted to a project in WorkflowMax, meaning your staff can get to work right away. From here, you can begin tracking your team’s productivity and progress, and the profitability of the project. With all data syncing between the two platforms, you don’t have to waste time entering data into two systems, and can instead spend more time on tasks that matter.

A bird’s eye view with Microsoft Power BI

With fit-for-purpose systems collecting data from the different functions of your business, whether that be customer and sales data from HubSpot, project profitability data from WorkflowMax or financial data from Xero, it can be a challenge for the business owner and the leadership team to bring this all together.

Integrating data is one part of the puzzle - it’s important to ensure that systems are speaking to each other and that data is flowing in the right directions for the most accurate insights. But even with all this data available, the information is meaningless if we can’t interpret it. Once you have a clear understanding of the metrics that matter most to your business, along with the sources of truth for their data, you can leverage a tool like Microsoft Power BI to turn data into consolidated visual insights.  

Reports that were once repeated each week and month are now automated in Power BI, with interactive dashboards and visual aids based on your design preference, goals and KPIs. Power BI is a powerful analytics system that aggregates and analyses your performance to gain a deeper, data-based perspective on your business performance.

Integrating WorkflowMax, HubSpot, Xero and Power BI enables your team to visualise, interpret and analyse data all in one place. Whether it’s the executive team needing an easy-to-understand snapshot for a board meeting, or a practice manager needing to dive in deep, Power BI makes it easy to identify opportunities or discover risks in each and every part of your business.  

Like all of the systems we use, PowerBI is cloud-based. No matter where you are, you’ll always have access to the latest information, and the ability to collaborate on projects with your team from your phone, tablet and computer. With your Power BI subscription, you’re empowered to connect multiple data sources, including cloud software such as WorkflowMax, Hubspot and Xero. The result? You can dive deeper into the data and gain insights that help you to make more effective business decisions.

How to get started on your systems implementation

By this stage, you’re well aware that a great business outcome is so much easier to achieve with a seamless suite of tools, trustworthy advice, and successful implementation. But what next?

Remember that taking the time to plan matters. Start by mapping out your internal (operations) and external (customer experience) processes and systems, and identify any overlap, gaps, blind spots or bottlenecks in the data inputs, outputs and reports. Then, we recommend getting in touch with a digital consultant who can help you to assess the best configuration for your specific business needs and support you with a stress-free implementation.

Bringing together reliable software like Xero, WorkflowMax, HubSpot and Power BI into one digital ecosystem can equip your business with the efficiencies and data you need to be productive in your operations and confident in your business processes, while offering your customers a positive experience that also supports your growth goals.

New to WorkflowMax? We have a range of options to help you get set up – from self-paced learning to guided implementations with our expert partners (such as BlueRock Digital). Learn which approach is right for you with our implementation options guide.

Why leave it there?

To try WorkflowMax today with a 14 day free trial

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