We recently released the findings of our 2016 survey of 200 U.S. and UK accounting, advisory and management consulting firms, and what we discovered was that despite heavy investment in technology and training, many are struggling to strike a balance between security and usability. Often, this struggle manifests itself in unintended issues, such as data breaches which can have major implications to the success of the business.

There is no denying it; the professional services sector is a tough market. Increased competition, both domestic and global, means that it is more challenging than ever to win and retain new business.

Winning new business doesn’t come easily, or cheaply, for professional service firms. Today, a typical bid consumes nearly $25,000 of billable time – that’s an average of seven people involved, with senior members of the team dedicating an average 12 hours each. Unsurprisingly, finding efficiencies in the bid process has become essential as time and resource become more precious. Therefore, the more efficient you can make the process, the more bids a firm can pursue and the more clients it can service.

Our research showed that the single fastest way to improve efficiency in the bid process is to make it easier to collect information from across the business, closely followed by clearer document workflows and better version control. Improved document management and information sharing are therefore vital. Without these, firms will continue to lose billable time to inefficient processes and install a self-imposed ceiling to new business opportunity. 

Fortunately, the right collaboration technology can help professional service firms get back on track. However, this requires technology that actively supports the end-user and overall business – one cannot come at the cost of the other. The technology must also be easily accessible on every device, while also being secure and transparent.

To win and deliver on new business, professional service firms need to showcase expertise and demonstrate the breadth of their services. To do this well, the bid process needs to be efficient, effective and as cost effective as possible. Simply throwing technology at the problem won’t solve the underlying issues. If anything, it will just create more issues.

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