Professionals often need tools to help automate tasks. Source: Shutterstock

Professionals often need tools to help automate tasks. Source: Shutterstock

Do we really need professional services automation tools?

PROFESSIONALS such as doctors, accountants, and lawyers tend to support a number of clients simultaneously.

Usually, such professionals often spend two-thirds of their time serving clients, and a third of their time with administrative tasks such as budgeting, scheduling, and billing.

In the digital age, however, such professionals can look forward to delegating administrative tasks to digital solutions such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Aptly categorized as “professional services automation” tools, these are software — either on-premise or cloud-based, that make it possible for users to free their time so they can focus on doing what brings the most value to their clients and their firms.

While every professional services automation tool is different, here are some core features that make them a great investment in the digital age:

# 1 | Budgeting and billing

One of the biggest challenges for professional services firms is charging clients for the time that their staff has spent on a project or case.

Professionals usually have pre-set daily or hourly rates, but they need to manually track how much time they’re spending on a particular client’s tasks, on a regular basis.

Using professional services automation, however, companies can quickly track how much time their staff spends on a client’s job, simplifying the billing process.

The tool also provides greater visibility into “how much time is standard” for a task, allowing firms to better budget their resources when taking on new clients.

# 2 | Sales and service integration

One of the interesting features of professional services automation tools is that they usually also serve as a CRM that helps better manage customer relations.

Through the tool, firms are able to smoothly move clients from the sales team to account managers and finally to the professionals who’re to carry out the task.

Not only does this improve the overall customer experience but the automation means that there’s less paperwork for the professional to manage, especially when moving the client back to account managers to close or renew the contract.

# 3 | Reporting and analysis

One of the most important things for professionals is to understand which of their clients take up the most time and which provide the most value in terms of margins.

With traditional paper-based or spreadsheet-based records, this seems impossible to do because of the amount of time such a task would take.

However, with professional services automation tools, getting access to valuable insights about staff’s time and client revenues is easy, and often only takes a few clicks.