How information management can advance consulting firm operations

18 July 2022 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read
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Over the past decade, newer and more affordable technologies have entered the consulting market that help firms operate more effectively and efficiently.

From state-of-the-art ERP packages for consultants to professional services automation solutions, integrated project management tools, knowledge management platforms and PowerPoint add-ons – technology can act as a saviour for many challenges of consulting leaders / staff who manage operations and consultants.

One area where technology can yield marked returns is knowledge and document management. Chris Smith, ANZ Alliance and Partner Manager at M-Files, outlines how improved information processes can help overcome five key challenges that consulting firms face on a daily basis.

Chris Smith, ANZ Alliance and Partner Manager, M-Files

1. Higher customer expectations
Consulting firms now have access to massive volumes of data; however, so do their customers. In business consulting, specialised knowledge has become somewhat jeopardised by virtue of knowledge being spread everywhere, and customer expectations are changing as a result. Customers now want access to information in real time, and consultancies must be able to adapt if they expect to succeed.

Firms can address this challenge with smarter content management solutions that provide contextual search capabilities based on metadata, making it easy for consultants to find the information they need instantly.

An effective information management system that eliminates friction points and avoids the duplication of documents and requests can help consultancies to deliver on customer expectations, even with fewer resources and higher expectations than they had before.

2. Increasingly difficult top- and bottom-line growth
Customers can more easily shop around and compare pricing, forcing consultancies to optimise their processes and procedures in an effort to lower the cost of their products and services to win business. However, this can also create challenges for firms as they will need to deliver more for less to continue to compete. This could put profit margins at risk.

Improving efficiencies through automated processes and better content management can help firms maintain strong margins even as they do more with less.

3. Projects increasing in complexity
Business transformation has led to more complex projects for many consulting firms, especially as customers often have multiple stakeholders involved both internally and with third parties. This can create more challenging timelines and complicate the delivery of documentation, especially when tasks and documents need to pass through so many different hands.

Managing these processes with streamlined and automated workflows can save hours of time, keep all stakeholders in the loop, and ensure no steps are missed.

4. A workforce that no longer tolerates manual processes
In today’s connected society, workers are less tolerant of time-consuming, paper-based, manual tasks. They’re also less willing to settle for roles that lack flexibility or creativity. Organisations that fail to facilitate employees’ ability to work on documents and collaborate from anywhere on any device will struggle to attract and retain talent.

Firms can overcome this challenge with a smart information management system that lets workers be productive from anywhere without compromising data security.

5. Increased risk of data loss
As more information is digitised, companies face increased risk of data being compromised through a cyberattack or breach. Failing to address security concerns can also increase the risk of reputational damage. However, security goes beyond investing in firewalls and network monitoring solutions, though these are important.

Consultancies should also build strong security measures into the firm’s information management level and put strong controls in place around access management. This is made easier with purpose-built information management tools that include security from the ground up.

In summary

Smart information management processes that are underpinned by the latest technologies can help to streamline document management by leveraging automation, artificial intelligence, and access management to help achieve greater efficiencies across the board. This can help consulting firms compete more effectively and deliver excellent services for their clients.

About the author and M-Files. Chris Smith has been with M-Files since early 2021, where he oversees the firm’s partner network. M-Files provides intelligent information management solutions to clients in multiple sectors, including the consulting industry.