One solution was building a digital ecosystem of SEF Energy’s back end to its customers. “We have sensors that tie into [VistaVu and SEF Energy’s clients’] systems and we use data to drive decisions and analysis,” said White. “We use this every day because the best aspect is faster speed to market.”
Another session, “Accelerating Value on M&A Activity Through Analytics & Planning,” explored the technology needs of businesses both before and after a merger. Often, the newly acquired companies need guidance on back-office operations, setting standards and easily sharing data that can be used to make decisions. In the session, Jonathan Essig, managing partner of SimpleFi Solutions, discussed the challenges that can vex a deal.
One is a lack of flexibility, “which becomes apparent when integrating with another firm, and it has been apparent in the last year as business models changed,” he said. “There is a lack of flexibility, whether in reporting and how you view data or the scenario modeling if we acquire an additional company.”
Inconsistent data governance and ERPs are causing law firms to fall behind the technological curve, but SAP solutions are helping legal services reclaim value.
A big problem law firms fall into is contracting out with small and mid-sized tech companies that can provide personalized ERP software for law firms but without rigorous standards.
“Law firms think their operations are special and unique and they need help from small, specialized providers,” said Craig Courter, COO of Katten Muchin Rosenman.
Poor data management means they have to be replaced every few years, which can be an expensive task, Courter adds. “You don’t want to do it often.”
Money and Resource Management
During the “Intelligent Spend for Private Equity—Simplifying for Rapid Savings” panel, Chad Buchanan, COO and general counsel for midmarket consulting firm Premikati, discussed how technology can help businesses control their spending.
The portfolio company’s procurement methods while under PE ownership can typically be divided into three buckets: Spending analysis, sourcing and purchasing. Using SAP Ariba technology, Buchanan said some private equity firms have been able to manage these three functions. “Ariba has a spend analysis module from various portfolio companies that shows what you are spending across the PE firms and where they might be missing potential savings,” he said.
Professional service firms, or PSFs, in particular, can run into problems when the time comes for them to grow, but putting the right software in place can help them scale, retain their differentiating advantage, and generate substantial returns for investors.
Unlike product-based companies, PSFs—like business and engineering consultants, for example—can only grow when they hire more people. But gains can be eaten up by a growing back-office workload that requires more workers. New hires can also dilute quality for clients without proper management. Overall, these factors can deliver mediocre returns for investors, according to Larry Perlov, president and managing partner of Illumiti, which helps deploy SAP’s software.
But the right ERP software can help avoid those growing pains and maximize value. Perlov says ERP software provided by SAP does this by automating back-office tasks, using advanced analytics to forecast which areas of the business are expected to grow, and helping to identify new talent and track the progress of tasks and projects of individual consultants, ensuring that consistency is maintained throughout the organization.
“Those who are effectively embracing [the services that SAP software provides] are able to become smarter, faster and leaner,” Perlov said.