A professional services firm’s ability to manage its resources smartly is more critical today than ever before. And even if you have yet to board the train of technological progress that will ensure this improved situation, other professional services firms have—and they’re leaving you at the station.
It’s a subject about which Hugo Dorph, executive vice-president and general manager at Deltek Inc., lamented recently in a paper urging corporate professional services brass to consider the subject of resource planning more seriously than they have been.
In today’s highly competitive business world, he explains, it’s critical that individual businesses are aligned with the conditions that define the market in which they play. In other words, efficient resource management is the key to ensuring success in a climate that values the smart application of critical company assets, small and large.
Dorph points particularly to a glaring omission he’s noted in creative agencies, consulting firms, accounting firms and law firms, among others: namely, their failure to properly exploit their human resource talents. “By far the most valuable asset,” says Dorph, these folks should have their time and energies assiduously accounted for, for at least six months in advance. In reality, says the Aberdeen Group, an astonishing 75 percent of surveyed PR and communications agencies maintain no overview of their resource situation for more than one month.
If you’re not sure you’re among the offenders, Dorph offers a list of SEVEN signs that a company is neglecting its resource planning. To wit:
1. People appear busy, but utilization rates remain low.
2. Some people are always overloaded while others often have available capacity.
3. Project planning is based on guesswork.
4. You often over-service clients because you have no baseline budget overview.
5. You are not getting the most out of your people’s talents because you haven’t mapped their skills.
6. You can’t compare your long-term project pipeline to your planned capacity.
7. Resource planning is based on local spreadsheets because you don’t have an enterprise-wide solution to manage your people.
“By implementing a full-blown resource planning solution”, Dorph says, “companies suffering at least one of these sins can turn the train around.”
To this end, Dorph offers a detailed route map.
– Make it easy for your employees to register time and other relevant data into your business solution, possibly by facilitating these exercises with familiar applications, such as e-mail and Intranet.
– Employ Maconomy People Planner in implementing best practices for resource planning across your organization. This resource planning solution makes it easy for professional services organizations to enable users’ viewing and updating of work assignments.
– Adopt a solution that gives you full control of your resource planning on multiple levels. A solution that only lets you plan on a project-by-project basis is no solution at all.
– Remember the financial value associated with intelligent resource planning. The ironic reality that many professional services companies don’t operate within the structure of enterprise-wide resource planning solutions, in spite of the fact that the very product they sell is their employees’ time, cannot be understated.
“Tomorrow’s professional services success stories,” Dorph sums up, “will be those companies who have most cleverly been able to utilize their resources with improved resource planning. Doing so gives a manager unprecedented access to the most fruitful application of his most precious resource.”