Today 10% of gross margin runs the business, down from 30% to 40%
After using Xero, Salesforce, and Mavenlink to run its growing, global operations, consulting firm Bryant Park asked itself a serious question: Should we continue to shell out annual enterprise contract fees to run various disconnected software platforms, or is it time to make the move to NetSuite?
As a NetSuite Alliance Partner, Bryant Park has helped many other firms make a successful switch and knew the benefits.
“We were at a point where our one-year term with Mavenlink was up, and we were also paying about $80 per user per month for Salesforce,” said Alec Epstein, Bryant Park managing partner. “Economically speaking, NetSuite was a much better deal for us.”
So, in mid-2022, Bryant Park made the decision to replace its disparate software platforms with NetSuite financials, customer relationship management (CRM) and SuiteProjects. The move coincided with the consultancy’s decision to bring its finance functions in-house. It has since hired a controller, formed an accounts receivables (AR) team, and begun the process of bringing payroll in-house.
“As we continued to grow, we knew that we had to bring some functions in-house to bring more discipline into the organization and execute at a higher level in our own financial operations,” said Epstein.
Excessive Dual Data Entry, Manual Work
Like many startups, Bryant Park launched without an internal finance team. Its outsourced accounting provider was using Xero, so Bryant Park followed suit. It then implemented Mavenlink for project management, project accounting, invoice generation, and time tracking.
Next, Bryant Park added Salesforce CRM to organize its sales activities. This trio of platforms served as the company’s IT foundation.
“Each of those applications individually is pretty capable; you can probably grow and scale further than we did on them,” said Epstein. “However, we did start to experience challenges with them on a few different fronts.”
For starters, anytime the company closed a new project, associates would have to manually transfer the customer information and statement of work from Salesforce to Xero. Then, they would go into Mavenlink to set up the project.
“There was a lot of manual work that took place between the closing of the deal and getting the project all set up,” said Epstein. On the client billing side, Bryant Park was tracking time and projects in Mavenlink but generating invoices in Xero. With no integration between Xero, Mavenlink, and Salesforce, the circle of manual work was virtually endless.
“We were doing a lot of dual data entry, which isn’t a big deal when you have fewer than 30 customers,” Epstein said. “Once we hit 80 customers and began adding five to 10 new ones a month — plus updating existing client information — keeping everything in sync across those systems was nearly impossible.”
The Cherry on Top
Ready to bring its operations onto a single platform that could be personalized to its needs, Bryant Park did its own NetSuite implementation in October 2022. And while NetSuite’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) may have been the obvious choice, Epstein said the final decision came down to the product itself — and not just the fact that Bryant Park is a NetSuite implementation partner.
“It's a nice cherry on top to be able to say we implemented NetSuite ourselves, but from our point of view, it is the best solution for our business,” said Epstein.
While Bryant Park did consider keeping Mavenlink and integrating it with Xero and Salesforce, in the end, the cost benefit of consolidating onto a single platform versus integrating the three platforms was significant enough to drive the consulting firm’s decision.
Using a phased implementation strategy, Bryant Park first installed professional services automation (PSA) and project billing. It then added CRM, general ledger (GL), support case management, and an integration with Celigo's CloudExtend GSuite SuiteApp, which provides seamless navigation between Google and NetSuite.
The company began seeing benefits almost instantly. Rather than scouring for data across three disparate systems, it now has the analytics, data, searches, and dashboards that it needs all in one place.
“Our data visibility is 10 times what it was before,” said Epstein, who especially likes NetSuite’s ability to automatically create projects from opportunities that have a 70% or better probability of closing. This allows the company to begin allocating consulting resources to new projects sooner, plan out its staffing needs, and better serve its customers.
Bryant Park also uses saved searches to remind the team when opportunities reach a 59% or better probability of closing, meaning that they’re currently in the proposal, negotiation, or pending closing stage and need to account for project resources.
“We get reminded when a proposal hits that stage and we haven't set up a project and soft allocated resources for it yet,” said Epstein. “I think that single reminder on our dashboard is going to improve our gross profit by 1%. It's that powerful.”
Getting Invoices Out on Time
As a professional services company, Bryant Park sends out client invoices on the 15th and the 30th of every month. To make sure those invoices were being distributed, Epstein would use Slack to remind the company’s consultants to submit their billable hours. Now, NetSuite sends out automatic email reminders to everyone who hasn’t submitted hours yet.
“The fact that people are being reminded to do their time entry more frequently means that, on average, they're booking more time,” said Epstein. “Otherwise, if they waited a few days and maybe forgot what they did, they’d wind up billing less time because they may struggle to justify it. Those little reminders improved execution around time entry, which in turn increased revenue.”
With NetSuite, Bryant Park also has a fully automated billing process with billing templates that it can customize to its clients’ requirements and a way to send invoices directly from the ERP platform.
“We were previously downloading invoices from Mavenlink and sending an email out for every single invoice,” said Epstein. “Now we’re generating and sending 80 invoices with the click of a button.”
Winning the Deals
Next, Epstein plans to implement NetSuite’s configure, price, and quote (CPQ) functionality and use it to automatically generate statements of work, proposals, and change orders. Through an integration with DocuSign, it will be able to send those documents directly from NetSuite to its clients to review and sign.
“When we get there, this will be a huge win for us,” said Epstein. “Writing proposals is a huge time suck.”
By replacing its disparate software platforms with NetSuite, Bryant Park has also positioned itself for success in a competitive marketplace amid uncertainty. With skilled labor becoming increasingly difficult to find and retain, for example, it now has an ERP that automates and reduces the consulting firm’s reliance on back-office processes. As a result, the company has been able to reallocate those resources to other parts of its business.
“Because our back office is so highly automated, we only need about 10% of our gross margin to actually run the business, versus the 30% to 40% that we needed before,” said Epstein. “Our profitability is the same because we now have better consultants, but we can pass the savings on to our clients and be even more competitive when winning deals.”
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