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Where to start with digitalisation in professional services


Hitachi Solutions > Blogs > 2019 > 06 > Where to start with digitalisation in professional services

Customer expectations and businesses ambitions are ever-growing in the digital era. This is especially apparent in the professional services industry. Organisations face increasing pressure to digitise for fear of falling behind competitors and losing customers.

Concerns are compounded by a question that looms over the industry: where do you actually start when it comes to digitalisation in professional services? This blog explores the important first steps organisations can take to get started in their journey to digitalisation in professional services.

Barriers to digitalisation in professional services

The good news for professional services firms is that they have great experience in planning an effective approach to change. It is the same for your people, processes, and technology as it is for clients – the first step is in the planning. Broadly speaking, this involves identifying the scope for change: the expected benefits, the requirements, the resources, and any potential drawbacks.

So, one of the first things you must do is acknowledge the barriers to digital transformation, so you can avoid or overcome them.

Digital professional services organisations utilise talent from across the globe to create a network of knowledge workers. They optimise resources, designating work to those that are the most skilled to complete it. The challenge here is controlling the cost of labour – ensuring billable hours are tracked to prevent revenue leakage. Doing so requires connectivity at every level, particularly as your business scales. Otherwise, you will run into the following problems:

  • Disconnected processes: departments are entrenched in their current processes, which they are reluctant to get rid of. Workers may be productive within their team, but there are severe bottlenecks at the inter-departmental level.
  • Disconnected systems: IT that does not integrate with other systems takes far more time and effort to maintain and run. This is true for simple things like recruitment and for complex actions like global financial processing.
  • Disconnected people: training and adoption are crucial to ensure people are on the same page and working to the best of their ability.

Each of these barriers can be overcome through digitalisation in professional services, so long as you do the proper planning and execution.

Your initial steps to digitalisation in professional services

When it comes to such a project, it’s best to start small and in the areas you know change can make an immediate impact. Here are three steps any organisation can take to initiate digitalisation:

  1. Define change: A Change Impact Assessment will let you map out a realistic understanding of how digitalisation efforts will affect your organisation, department and key stakeholder groups.
  2. Assess readiness: A Change Readiness Assessment will outline the scope of the change (workgroup, department, division, enterprise) and the type of change (process, technology, organisation, job roles, merger, strategy).
  3. Communicate change: A Communication Plan defines who should be given specific information, when that information should be delivered and what communication channels will be used to deliver the information.

Digitalisation in professional services, in practice

Hitachi Solutions understand first-hand the challenges facing professional services companies. We took our own requirements as a professional services organisation and created a unique solution for the industry – a tested way to upgrade or replace your finance and operational systems. The solution combines:

  • Industry best-practice processes
  • Advanced project accounting
  • Advanced resourcing and scheduling
  • Insightful dashboards
  • KPIs
  • Power BI reports

Reporting has improved – moving from batch processing to instant reporting – so workers can immediately view individual transactions and reduce month-end reporting times. Read the Kaizen case study to find out more.

From company to client to customer

Digital transformation isn’t a one-time project, but a continuous journey. As such, digitalisation in professional services isn’t a case of deploying shiny new software and waiting for productivity to skyrocket and costs to tumble. Businesses must constantly plan and re-plan, as the people, processes and technology in the company evolve.

Organisations able to succeed in their own digitalisation strategy can pass that knowledge and experience on to their clients. There is no industry where such experience is more valuable than in professional services.

To find out more about digitalisation in professional services, get in touch with us today.

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Michelle Maden

Michelle is a Vice President at Hitachi Solutions and a highly successful architect, having qualified as an accountant and attained an MBA in her early career. She has extensive experience in digital transformation, solution architecture and international project management across multiple technologies such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and SAS.

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