Professional Services Success Requires Accurate Resource Planning

Proactive resource planning is crucial to the success of any professional services organization. We share our top tips to getting it right.

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    Proactive resource planning is crucial to the success of any project-based organization.

    There’s a lot on the line. Get it wrong, the business loses money, credibility, and potentially, even fails.

    Poor resource planning triggers destructive ripples across the entire organization — dealing multiple blows to the bottom line.

    For example, if you underestimate the resources needed for a project, you’re looking at bottlenecks, missed deadlines, and eventually, margin erosion. Overestimate and you’ll not only waste money on resources you don’t need, you’re also messing with utilization, which then impacts your ability to take on new work without driving your team to burnout.

    Essential Guide for the Modern Professional Services FirmEssential Guide for the Modern Professional Services Firm

    There’s a lot at play, but resource planning problems typically link back to disconnected systems and inaccurate, incomplete, or disorganized data.

    Whatever the cause, it’s the human resources left trying to fill the gaps – often with intuition and an eye toward the past. Sometimes this approach works out, but in most cases, it hurts both the client and the firm.

    Below, we’ll examine a few solutions firms can use to deal with these issues and reliably deliver more profitable projects.

    How Technology Helps Service-Based Firms Win Profits Through Resource Planning

    Fixing resource planning issues requires organizations to focus on cleaning up their data and unifying all data sources in a single ERP system. ​​Incomplete or inaccurate data sets mean decisions aren’t based in reality. In order to get an accurate picture of what resources are available, firms must have complete visibility into all data, people, processes, and relationships across the entire portfolio.

    They also need both real-time and long-term visibility into employee workloads, skills requirements, what’s in the backlog, as well as forecasts, budgets, and real-time financials for the business as a whole.

    Effective resource planning is also about ditching analog processes that can lead to a similar set of problems. Managing projects with analog methods like spreadsheets and email is still fairly common in the professional services space —despite the fact that this approach actively undermines the accuracy and visibility that firms need in order to effectively manage their resources.

    You’ll also need end-to-end visibility and a unified system to enable automation – which is central to unlocking the productivity gains and predictive insights firms need for effective, reliable resource planning.

    Initially, you’ll need that complete picture to identify — then eliminate, replace, or automate inefficient processes. Then, as your strategy matures, you might use predictive insights to build automated workflows to carry out specific tasks or respond to incoming queries.

    For example, SOLEVO Group initially implemented Dynamics 365 Finance, along with the Power Platform to help them achieve the agility, flexibility, and scalability they needed to take the business into the future.

    One of the first customers to try Finance Insights, SOLEVO wanted deeper insights into customer payments and financial performance to enable more accurate cash flow forecasting, streamlined budgeting, and automated actions based on historical data.

    While Velosio client, Global Strategy Group (GSG) knew they had a solid track record with their clients, they needed more information about which variables contributed to that success – as well as how the business was performing in general.

    After moving from Salesforce to D365 for Project Service Automation (PSA), the firm was able to determine what it costs to win deals, how long it takes, and what activities deliver the best results. They can also determine which services to pitch to different customer segments – helping them more reliably win deals faster and as a result, better predict future workloads.

    Project leaders can now see which employees are available and match them with projects that align with their experience, skills, and any interests they share with a particular client. So, not only are they able to effectively allocate resources, they’re facilitating connections that contribute to better retention. Finally, the cost savings they were able to achieve allowed GSG to invest in IT projects that power innovation.

    Final Thoughts

    Accurate planning is one of the most effective ways to ensure projects are profitable at the earliest stages – it paves the way for more accurate resource utilization, forecasting, estimation, scheduling, all of it.

    Then from there, you can start automating tasks like skills matching. Or — use predictive modeling to prepare for every possible “what-if” scenario. Maybe leverage sales data to drive more predictable wins – and by extension, ensure more predictable workloads, cash flow, and more.

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    Velosio helps professional services firms with industry-specific solutions built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 to support resource planning, project accounting, budgeting, time-tracking, and more. Contact an expert to learn about our solutions for project-based firms, what it’s like to work with us, and how we can support resource planning and utilization, project accounting, and more.

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