Business Systems Survey Results

14 October 2017

Do you know where to start when choosing a new business management system for your practice? The choices can seem overwhelming. To find out more the ACA paired with Management for Design to survey the use and effectiveness of business systems in practice. Rob Peake of Management for Design reflects on the results.

There are myriad practice management systems available to businesses and the industry to manage finances, projects, clients and documents. Yet there has been minimal information describing the effectiveness of these systems and minimal expert assistance about making the right choice for you and your business.

The survey looked at which systems are the most popular within the architecture, engineering and consultant industries, and which have proven to be the most effective. The results reveal the following:

  • Only two accounting systems are considered effective or very effective – Xero and one other.
  • The level of effectiveness of project control systems is very low.
  • Union Square is considered the most effective project control system (although it is not used extensively).
  • 44% of our respondents did not have a resource management system. Of those that do, the level of effectiveness is very low.
  • Less than one in five businesses have a system specifically designed to manage resources.
  • 60% of businesses do not have a system for managing customer relationships.
  • More than 40% of businesses do not have a formal document management system.
  • The most common platform for managing contract administration is still MS Office, Word, Excel.
  • There are no systems across project control, resource management, CRM and document management that are consistently rated ‘very effective’ by our respondents.

What does this mean?

Overall, the results aren’t great! Business systems are one of the key foundations of business and it is only from having effective systems that you can control and build your business. Your systems should run your business and your people should follow your systems. A key responsibility for every business owner is to systematise your business. Having said that, the effectiveness of any system is typically not solely related to the software functionality.

The effectiveness of the systems in your business is a combination of numerous factors including:

  • Leadership commitment and support
  • Effective implementation
  • Using the right system for your business
  • Ease of use
  • System functionality
  • Complexity of system
  • In house “champion” in the business
  • Ongoing investment in the systems, e.g. upgrades
  • The extent of integration across the system modules
  • Date integrity
  • Partner/vendor support, expertise and availability
  • Time using the system
  • Training

We all need to do more as an industry!

It’s only through having strong business systems in place that will allow you to take time away from your business, knowing that everything is under control, knowing that your team of great people that you trust are following the approved systems in your business and knowing that your team has everything in place to drive the success of the business.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey. 

Download the full Business Systems Survey Results 2017 here.