Full Sail Partners Blog

Open Architecture - Why It's Good for Professional Services Firms.

open architectureAmong many things, today’s professional service firm managers are constantly striving for the most effective and efficient way to operate their business. They are inundated with data and, while reviewing latest financial results, finding the right business indicators for planning, understanding modern marketing trends and, of course, keep up with technology – simply managing the business can fall through the cracks. If your business is thriving, then it is evolving, and you need technology that can keep up with it and keep your business moving ahead. Enter open architecture (OA).

What is Open Architecture?

Open Architecture is when a systems specifications are accessible and allows further system development. Additionally, systems that allow an application programming interface (API), new system features can be developed and integrated with other software.

How Can I Benefit?

  • Flexibility – Your business is unique. Although you may perform similar functions as other professional services firms, how you conduct business is uniquely – you. The reality is there is not one system “out of the box” that completely provides everything for your very individual business needs. Finding a system that gets you most of a specific functionality is one thing. Finding a system with an open architecture allows you to meet the specific functionality and meet the special needs of YOUR business is quite another. A system with open architecture will allow you to customize the design (both in processes and fields for data collection) to meet your specific needs
  • Efficiency – Time is precious (not to mention expensive). Open architecture systems allow you to reduce duplicate entry and incomplete processes – reducing errors and omissions. When your software systems “talk” to each other (for example the information from your opportunity system automatically converts to a project when awarded) the data is automatically transferred between the systems eliminating the needs for staff to duplicate entry and reducing errors. You can also build in validation requirements to ensure YOUR business process is followed.
  • Connectivity – Access is important. You need your data regardless of which system you’re looking at or when you need it. An open architecture system will share your data with other systems and allow you seamless access to it. For example, when you are awarded a project that meets certain requirements that project information can be automatically uploaded to your website – keeping your site relevant to YOUR business.

Don’t take our word for it

Now that we know what open architecture is, let’s talk specifically about how an OA will help your professional services firm. An ERP like Deltek Vision allows even those with limited IT knowledge to customize and build business intelligence processes through the use of workflows

Let’s say during your sales cycle when you change the stage to “Awarded” you typically have a series of other fields and processes you have to go through. A workflow can trigger those processes:

  • Change Status to Sold
  • Change Probability to 100%
  • Change the Date Closed to Today’s Date
  • E-mail Accounting to open a project (or even allow the system open up a project)
  • E-mail Marketing to advise a new project was won

Duplicated or unnecessary efforts equates to lost time. Alternatively business processes that are not followed can spin cycles down the road (that is why the process is there in the first place – right?). Many of these items are easily resolved through workflows where some can take advantage of the flexible software solution already available, while others may need to take it to a higher level to tailor to their unique requirements. The possibilities for innovation are limitless with a system that has an open architecture.

Don’t Go at It Alone

While technology fads come and go, it can be hard to tell which ones you should ignore and which you should embrace. The benefits of open architecture are clear – flexibility, efficiency and connectivity. But don’t go at it alone – you have better things to do with your time then sifting through mounds of technical documents – reach out to your friends at Full Sail Partners to consult on how open architecture can make you shine.


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