Thrive in government contracting with the right technology tools

Mar 16, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Many professional services companies perform government contracting exclusively or in addition to supporting their private-sector clients. That brings more challenges to their already complex business, where clients expect the sort of responsiveness they know from the best consumer companies, where regulations and compliance become more involved, and where increasing competition threatens project margins and client relationships. Highly usable, easy-to-learn, fully integrated technology tools that fit your professional services business model and processes can help you operate more efficiently and become more competitive even when large providers appear to dominate the industry.

The professional services category includes a wide variety of companies. From strategic consulting, to finance management, business administration, software engineering, construction, and logistics, and on to landscaping, janitorial, and security-related services, the breadth of the professional services industry is enormous. Some of these companies do nothing but provide the expertise and skills of the professionals who perform work, but many of them also source and consume materials and products within their service delivery. In all professional services organizations, the recruiting, hiring, training, management, and retention of people is a fundamental, strategic effort.

Higher client expectations and more intense competition

In recent years, regulatory requirements, especially in regard to financial management, as well as industry quality standards have brought greater complexity to many professional services companies, especially those that engage in government contracting. At the same time, given a wave of consolidations and mergers in the industry, fewer companies compete more intensely, and many of these offer a larger portfolio of diverse professional services than in the past. A great number of professional services companies support for-profit, private-business as well as public-sector clients.

Clients expect professional services companies to be responsive anytime, anywhere, and to provide excellent visibility into service milestones, project progress, and compliance. Often, they also look for innovation in form of new, valuable service offerings or tangible evidence of continuous improvement of a vendor’s service quality or cost-efficiency. Such technologies as mobility, business analytics, and the cloud become very important as professional services companies look to become more valuable and competitive.

But it is also true that, even in large professional services organizations engaged in serving both the public sector and private business, technology tools are sometimes inadequate. It is not unusual that complex service contracts, including their invoicing and subcontractor billing, are managed by means of a spreadsheet or a combination of spreadsheets and other documents. Unless these companies have excellent practices for information-sharing, it is easy for errors, miscommunications, and inefficiencies to occur. If those are not addressed, sooner or later they will throw a shadow on client relationships and compliance efforts.

ERP designed for professional services companies in the public and private sector

Resistance to change often complicates companies’ initiatives to update their infrastructures and processes with modern technology, and negative expectations can be very high when a business implements a software tool that touches as many people and activities as an ERP system. When the software can be implemented smoothly and employees find it easy to learn and use—a common experience, for example, with Microsoft Dynamics AX—adoption is generally fast and widespread. And, when it comes to implementing ERP for a professional services company engaging in the public and private sectors, it also helps when the system and any additional software tools to adjust it for the service business model already address most of a company’s business requirements with only minimal customization. With its industry, business integration, and Government Contracting solutions for Dynamics AX, To-Increase typically delivers 80 percent and sometimes far more of what companies need. In addition, you can implement our solutions flexibly, deploying exactly the functionality you need, when you need it, instead of overwhelming users with distracting complexity.

As a government contractor providing professional services, you already find in Microsoft Dynamics AX a range of important capabilities to manage and simplify your business, including work breakdown structures, contract-specific pricing, a vendor self-service portal, and powerful reporting. Blanket orders make it easier to track and control spending, enabling you to avoid financial losses caused by overspending. To-Increase GovCon enhances Dynamics AX for government contracting, so you can, for instance, more easily manage indirect cost allocations, budgets, and project billing; control your overhead and G&A costs; or manage compliance.

If you want to take a more holistic approach to compliance and also make people and processes more productive, you can take advantage of the best practice-based government contracting processes we created in RapidValue, our business process management solution. RapidValue also provides a centralized knowledge management resource for your ERP deployment, workflows, and business roles, and you can use the solution to produce process and ERP guidance for employees with great efficiency. Like all of our solutions for Dynamics AX, RapidValue and GovCon integrate completely with the ERP system and appear to users as one unified software environment with a consistent, modern interface.

Transforming service delivery and business management activities

Other To-Increase solutions address the concerns of professional services companies in a more circumscribed manner, and they are equally effective no matter whether you are in government contracting, serve business clients, or both. I don’t want to take up your day with our product catalog, but here are a few interesting examples:

  • When your service delivery employees spend their time in the field and you want them to be more effective in serving clients, they can use their preferred devices and our mobile solutions to access ERP data and capabilities, manage their assignments, and report their time and expenses.
  • To remain fully informed and be able to respond to client inquiries on the spot, your project managers can also rely on a mobile program management dashboard that offers updates regarding invoicing, budgets, and project milestones for your government contracting projects.
  • If you want to make sure that the company maintains a good Paydex Score and simplify an important part of business management, Vendor Invoice Manager provides a way to automatically approve and to manage, reject, or forward invoices more efficiently and without dropping one inadvertently.
  • To help you run complex service projects effectively, control all their moving parts, and still bring them in on time and with the results you commit to, Visual Project Planning enables the right action by making all activities, resources, materials, milestones, and digressions from planning clearly visible.
  • If you provide services on equipment installed by your own or another organization, Enterprise Asset Management and Asset Service Management assist you in keeping the value of machines, facilities, and resources at an optimal level throughout their lifecycle.

I would love to hear from you. With any comments and questions, please send me a note at mchapman [at] to-increase.com or contact To-Increase.

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About Author
Michele Chapman

Michele Chapman

Product Manager Finance Michele brings her 15+ of experience in government contracting and materials management to To-Increase as a product manager. During her career, she has held positions in supply chain for a government contracting company and for one of the largest providers of supply chain transportation solutions in the U.S. More recently, she was a principal consultant at a recognized software vendor for the government contracting market.
Michele holds a B.A. in French and International Studies from West Virginia University, an M.A. in French from George Mason University, and an M.B.A. and a Certificate in Supply Chain Management from the College of Business at East Carolina University.

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