Most likely, your professional services organization ultimately sells one thing and one thing only – the expertise of your consultants in billable hours. With time being the ultimate commodity, you must have robust systems in place to track how your resources are being utilized and billed.
The Two Basic Resource Management Approaches
Typically, your professional services organization already favors a particular resource management approach. If this is not clear, then it should be clarified, especially for growing companies that might be transitioning from one office to multiple locations.
1. Centralized Resource Management
Centralized resource management involves a focused team or resource that is responsible for scheduling all resources across an organization. For larger companies, you may need multiple resources in those locations.
The centralized resource method allows for more detailed tracking of data related to resource usage, providing a bigger picture to management about resource allocation. It will require more formal processes to be in place for resource requests and fulfillment.
2. Decentralized Resource Management
Decentralized resource management tends to favor smaller businesses where a more flexible approach is utilized. Here, managers and project managers are locally empowered to obtain and schedule resources for projects. The downside is that scheduling conflicts may be more likely, but the administrative overhead is lower.
Whichever scheduling method is undertaken, clarity should be provided to managers and staff about how to formally request resources for projects.
Three Important Considerations in Resource Management
For both centralized and decentralized scheduling, resource management can be improved by leveraging the powerful capabilities of PSA software. When taking a big picture look at improving resource management strategy, consider the following:
1. Skills vs. Roles
With a decentralized resource management approach, grabbing a resource based on who is doing what might be the go-to method of scheduling. However, this approach has its limits. First, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the different skill sets a resource has, especially for those who can wear multiple hats.
PSA software can be utilized to tag resources with various skills so they can be fully utilized instead of sitting on the bench.
2. Capacity vs. Demand
Capacity reflects the resources you have on staff, whereas demand relates to the services that are currently being requested for projects. Through proper tracking in the PSA system, managers can determine whether demand is outstripping capacity and more hires are needed, or if too many resources are not being utilized.
While the primary role should always be the capacity driver, in some cases, skill sets might need to be clarified so that resource “A” can jump in and help resource “B” when needed. By tracking capacity vs. demand, resources can be guided into new career directions that support their growth as well as the company’s growth.
3. Forecasts vs. Actuals
Determining key metrics is critical to having a profitable professional services business. This is where managers must be reminded to always use the PSA software for up-to-date tracking. Only with the latest data can the actual numbers be analyzed. The biggest challenge is often just making sure the information is put into the system consistently.
By setting up dashboards for tracking, you can review billable vs. non-billable hours to see how resources are being used (or not). You can see whether the hours forecast is accurate or off-base. Are some resources consistently going over their hours? Were hours over-projected? Having this information will make all the difference in growing a successful organization.
PSA Solutions Improve Resource Management Planning
PSA software vendors are continue to evolve and improve giving professional services organizations powerful tools to schedule, track, and manage resources. By getting clear on strategies and fully utilizing PSA tools, companies can improve their profits while delivering a higher quality of service.
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