As one of the highest performing, under-pressure sectors, the professional services industry increasingly faces a number of unique challenges. Threatened by commoditization, increased global competition and even automation, the ability to maximize billable utilization, exhibit expertise and deliver a great client experience has become paramount.

And yet findings from our 2016 survey of 200 U.S. and UK accounting, advisory and management consulting firms, launched today, revealed that inefficient information-sharing, poor document management and constant duplication of effort have impaired the ability of firms to win, service and retain business. To put it into context, globally monthly employees spend nearly $5,000 of billable time searching for documents.  

While many have made hefty investments in technology in an effort to improve collaboration efforts, the research suggests that many firms are failing to find the balance between security and usability. This has created new, and often unforeseen problems. In fact, 12 percent of respondents mentioned data breaches as a specific or direct cause of client losses.

It's becoming clear that simply throw technology at the problem is not the solution to this growing problem. Client portals and file-sharing systems of various types are widespread, and yet inefficiencies persist, preventing employees from sharing information effectively – whether internally with teams or externally with clients – and introducing risk of regulatory non-compliance.  

In an industry where individual firms rely on the expertise of their employees, the satisfaction of their clients and the efficiency of their teams for success, better collaboration is of strategic importance and must be at the heart of the business. Yet, it's imperative that it be tackled in the right way or the inefficiencies will only compound.

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