Professional Services Firms Need Smarter Scheduling Solutions

Discover how professional services firms are improving scheduling to cut costs, boost revenue, and deliver consistently great work on time.

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    Professional services leaders know that (human) resources are literally the driving force behind their entire business model. They’re simultaneously a firm’s key differentiator, biggest operating expense, and most valuable asset.

    As such, effectively managing experts’ time and workloads is critically important to their survival.

    Yet, scheduling resources is a complex, time-consuming process, rife with unexpected hiccups and impossible calculations. You need to make sure the right people with the right skills are assigned to each project and that workloads are manageable and evenly distributed. You’ll also need to factor in a whole host of variables – fuel costs, distance, urgent requests, and so on.

    And on top of those challenges, you’re dealing with humans. Even your very best people can become sick, sad, or angry without notice, burn out if pushed too hard, and make small mistakes here or there.

    The point is, human resources are harder to control than production equipment, inventory, or the company fleet, and as such, can’t be managed with spreadsheets and calendars alone.

    Firms need intelligent scheduling solutions that leverage critical data to assign and prioritize tasks — and maximize the value of their very human experts.

    Here, we look at some of the ways technology is already helping firms cut costs, boost revenue, and deliver consistently great work on time.

    Microsoft Dynamics 365 Buyer's Guide for Professional Services

    This guide will provide an overview of the entire platform and answer questions about features, selection, purchasing, implementation and support of the Dynamics 365 suite of solutions.

    Scheduling Solutions for Professional Services Firms

    Large, enterprise-level firms, D365 Project Operations, Sales, Field Service, and Customer Service all include Universal Resource Scheduling, a suite of tools that support resource management, capacity planning, and other critical decisions.

    The built-in scheduling capabilities make it easier to staff projects, assign jobs, book meetings, and manage support tickets, while D365’s reporting tools give users real-time visibility into resource availability.

    Following a growth spurt driven by a series of strategic acquisitions, software firm Linx struggled to scale manual processes, engage with clients, and develop new features and solutions.
    The firm implemented D365 Field Service and Project Service Automation (PSA) modules in an effort to improve its project management process and profitability as they expanded into new markets and built a client roster with more than 50k accounts.

    Within a year, Linx was able to transform support and operations roles (which, initially, did not contribute to the revenue engine) into positions that actively create value. All steps of client installations are managed in one place – issuing POs, scheduling site visits, and coordinating implementations.

    D365’s built-in scheduling tools allowed the Linx team to reduce the amount of time spent on manual processes and optimize available resources. Analysts can use D365 on their smartphones during site visits. Project managers can see how things are going and get in touch with analysts to answer questions or keep them in the loop when plans change.

    Integration with Power BI provides even more visibility to the platform – allowing project leaders and execs to identify which data points influence project outcomes. They might then use those findings to inform scheduling decisions to achieve specific goals like reducing fuel costs, service delays, or increasing the number of site visits per day.

    Resource Scheduling Optimization, or RSO, is an add-on capability for D365 Field Services that builds on the out-of-the-box features in the Universal Resource Scheduling module. RSO is used to automatically schedule jobs, optimize multi-stop routes, and maximize available resources using pre-defined goals and constraints.

    For example, your goal might be something like “minimizing travel time,” and your constraints might include distance, skills, and available work hours. From there, the built-in AI uses those parameters to deliver the desired outcome. That said, RSO isn’t for beginners. You’ll need to master the out-of-the-box scheduling capabilities and ensure that you’ve got a mature data practice in place before setting the algorithm loose in your system.

    On the SMB side, Velosio’s Advanced Projects for D365 Business Central brings advanced financial, project, and resource management tools to Dynamics BC.

    Users can manage resource pools and make changes based on availability, changing conditions, and high-level growth objectives. They can define resources and skills, track utilization and capacity at both the individual and group level, and make budgeting and staffing decisions using real-time data.

    Additionally, project leaders can monitor projects throughout the entire lifecycle, allowing them to update the schedule to optimize utilization and take advantage of opportunities to improve profit margins.

    Final Thoughts

    Intelligent resource scheduling enables professional service firms to manage their human resources in a smarter, more effective way — making it easy to assign tasks and staff projects based on individuals’ availability, skill sets, and current workloads.

    But — achieving these gains hinges on factors like your firm’s data maturity, where you’re at in your digital transformation journey, and whether your team is prepared to use advanced AI/ML tools to drive specific outcomes.

    Finally, improving resource scheduling is a continuous process that happens in stages – meaning, you can’t jump from spreadsheets to full-on RSO overnight.

    Velosio experts understand the nuances of how project-based and professional services orgs operate — as well as the opportunities, challenges, and complexities that define this space. We’ll help you improve resource scheduling, planning, utilization, get your financials in order, and implement high-impact solutions – regardless of where your firm is today.