The professional services industry is facing its toughest challenge yet. A combination of market factors is forcing down profit margins on projects while customer expectations are spiralling up.

The typical knee-jerk reaction by insurance companies has been to over-service customers and projects, but this cannot continue. The answer is to go back to basics - become more efficient.

Insurance organisations need to overhaul their systems so they can deliver accurate and responsive management information to the right people at the right time, since this is what oils the wheels of commerce.

This sounds simplistic, but the fact is that many of them are incredibly inefficient when it comes to billing, cash flow and getting the most out of their highly skilled staff without over-working them.

Typically, organisations operate disjointed multiple IT systems, and even manual processes, making it impossible to react quickly to the ever-changing needs of projects, or to have real-time accurate information about expenditure on projects and resources.

Greater efficiency can be achieved by consolidating business processes - namely customer relationship management, resource management, project administration and financial management. This allows service organisations to identify, manage and retain the right customers and the right staff throughout the entire lifecycle of projects.

With the service economy currently in a state of great flux, the marketplace for projects has never been tougher. The honeymoon may be over when it comes to enjoying healthy profit margins, but by embracing automation insurance organisations can deliver more bang-for-buck to clients without over-working staff and damaging morale.

Len Palmer
Chief executive
SharpOWL

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