Professional Services Firms and Technology

I have been working for professional service firms since 1997 (nearly 9 years!), and I recall sitting in a meeting with the national board of a former employer – a national accounting firm – in 1997 when the topic of email came up.  Most didn’t understand it, most thought it could be an expensive exercise and ‘anyway, clients pick up the phones to talk to me, they don’t email me’.  A reasonably rational response in 1997, but in 2006, particularly as Generation X and Y take over from the baby boomers, email is becoming a preferred medium of communication.

Email is still a particularly dangerous form of communication when communicating with clients – confusion can reign supreme and ambiguity can become the order of the day if you are not careful, and I now have a policy of making a phone call before sending an email for that reason (however, policies were made to be broken, I have found!).  However, clients do expect email communications fairly instantaneously, which is why I found Ross Dawson’s Blog‘s entry on ‘The Seven Mega-Trends of Professional Services‘ particularly interesting.  I can only concur with most of the comments made regarding professional services firms in terms of client sophistication, transparency, governance, commoditisation, and so on.

What is also interesting to me is that this is a white paper that Ross Dawson wrote for Epicor, which is business software we recently recommended to a client as a management system for a professional services firm.  Much to my surprise, in many respects, given that it wasn’t a dedicated practice management system (like, say, Solution6/MYOB, APS, CMS Open, or Keystone), it met all our criteria (proven capability, functionality, low-risk) for the client in that circumstance.

Serendipity drives the world.

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