Despite being global developers and providers of ERP software solutions for 6 industry sectors - Process, Consumer, Discrete, Financial, Public and Service - SAP is mainly utilised in the UK by large companies in the Process and Consumer sectors. Many UK SMEs, especially those within the Service sector are unaware of the possibilities of ERP software. With a range of specially developed software packages, SAP is set to shape Professional Services in the UK into efficient and profitable businesses.
There are a number of advantages to using ERP software which can be felt across all industry sectors:
SAP has recognised however that businesses operating in the Service sector are faced with unique challenges and demands, due in no small part to being providers of "intangible" services. Service sector businesses also have a different organisational structure to manufacturing companies; typically organisations such as Management Consultants, Accountants and IT providers operate with project based teams made up of a variety of individuals and consultants. This reliance on Matrix-based teams to fulfil company operations also brings with it a new set of challenges: communication channels from consultants to business owners can become blocked, and many team members will work to their own agendas only meeting their own responsibilities.
The key aim underpinning SAP's solutions for professional services is to provide them with the potential to improve overall service and project delivery. Implementing an ERP model into a business provides owners and managers with the capacity to plan, execute, manage and analyse each project from conception to final delivery. This methodical process is crucial to ensuring the success of current and future projects, without such efficiency and insight valuable human and financial resources can become consumed by unprofitable activities.
Managers of consulting firms can use the flexible applications of SAP to see specifically what their consultants are working on, and who the most responsive and profitable clients are. SAP's professional services software also has Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) capabilities, improving sourcing and procurement activities to ensure that the benefits are felt where it matters - on the bottom line.
As with all IT solutions, SAP is only advantageous to a business when implemented and integrated properly. SAP software needs to be viewed by businesses as a best practice method, maximising operational capabilities to ensure business success. Businesses in the Service sector can no longer be afraid of innovative ERP software, instead business managers and owners need to embrace the potential offered by innovation and encourage its integration into their organisations.
All SAP users within a professional services company should be exposed to the correct level of training and development, even consultants and staff members who aren't typically office based. Different levels of training can be found with reputable training providers and SAP consultants, and this training should be seen as an integral part of the SAP implementation process. SAP has never claimed to be a quick fix revenue booster, it is a long term investment into the future success and profitability of a company and if maintained correctly can have transformative results.
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