02 Aug Technology for Consulting Firms
Launching, running and building a consulting business or any kind of professional services firm has its challenges.
People: Your only real asset is the knowledge and skills you (and your team) can offer your clients. So, with so much competition, how do you keep hold of best people?
Market: The market you specialise in is probably quite focused. With such low barriers to entry, how do you protect (and grow) your share of the pie as the competition increases?
Liquidity: Aside from profits, cash flow is the life and blood of your business. But many of your services are probably billed on an arrears basis. So how do you ensure financial sustainability?
Workload: With growing demands, how do you keep on top of your client projects, and be assured everything is running to plan?
Time: How do you create more time, resources and capacity to innovate and differentiate from your competition?
Technology, when implemented properly, lies at the heart of the solution to these challenges. But to deliver the best results, your applications should be connected so that all functions of your business are able to work efficiently, effectively, profitably … and collaboratively.
However, an efficient consulting business depends on a wide range of applications: sales, marketing, customer services, human resource management, recruitment, partner management, project management, document management, accounting, timesheets, expense management … and the list goes on.
That’s a LOT of applications!
So, you have two options:
Option A: You can implement applications – from different vendors – who specialise in each of these different functions. For example, you may choose Salesforce or MS Dynamics for your core CRM; zenDesk for your customer support; mailChimp for email marketing automation; Xero for accounting;, and so forth. This approach gives you a portfolio of so-called ‘best of breed’ applications. But, when it comes to connecting them, you have a big and messy challenge ahead as you need to individually deal with the capabilities and functions of each interface; you have a whole bunch of different experts to work with to build the integrations; and it ends up being a high risk and high cost solution – often more cost than the individual applications themselves! Furthermore, to make matters worse, when one vendor upgrades their application, you may need to review each individual interface point. To solve this you could procure some intelligent middleware to make life easier – but that does not completely solve the solution.
Option B: Alternatively, you can implement a “platform” solution that offers a suite of ‘ready-made’ packages for each business function. This ‘platform’ approach would include multiple, natively integrated applications that present a consistent user experience, would be accessible through a single sign-on function, and you can pay for the solution under one single billing cycle.
Zoho ONE is a powerful example of such a platform. It offers a compelling and powerful suite of business applications that support the complete needs of a consulting firm. To name a few:
- ZOHO CRM, ZOHO Campaigns, ZOHO Social: maximise your sales productivity and marketing ROI
- ZOHO Desk and ZOHO Assist: enable your support representatives to deliver high value support
- ZOHO Projects, ZOHO Sprints, ZOHO Connect: deliver project profitably and collaboratively
- ZOHO People and ZOHO Recruit: recruit and retain the very best consultants for your business
- ZOHO Books, Invoice, Subscriptions, Expense, and Timesheets: for all finance and accounting processes
It also includes a broad range of productivity tools to support your day-to-day business operations – including tools for online audio or video chat to engage with customers and partners, digital document signature for your formal contracts and agreements, business intelligence and reporting to manage your business, and more.
In fact, ZOHO ONE comprises over 40 integrated applications to support the end-to-end needs of your business – and is available for less than the price of a daily cup of coffee: i.e. £1 per user per day for the complete suite.
To help businesses get best value from ZOHO ONE, we have devised ZED OFFICE: a consulting and implementation services programme designed to help you implement the business solutions in a way that is tailored to your specific requirements and processes, and a flexible support service to ensure your applications are always fit for purpose and delivering continuous ROI. Plus, just like ZOHO ONE, our ZED OFFICE service is also payable on an affordable monthly subscription basis.
Interested? To learn more about ZOHO and ZED OFFICE, contact us or complete the enquiry form on our website to schedule a free 30-minute, no obligation, consultation call!