Responding to ebbs and flows in market demand presents a continuous challenge for professional services firms tasked with creating bespoke solutions for project delivery.
Client extensions, change requests and other project ‘peaks and troughs’ also make managing people resources a complex task. Professional services firms including consultancies, accountancy or legal practices therefore have to be flexible when allocating resources but planning for the future can be a real headache
To achieve this flexibility, organisation-wide visibility is essential. This is difficult to achieve using traditional methods such as spreadsheets to plan project delivery and allocate resources. Basic spreadsheets tend to create ‘silos’ of information specific to individual business units and/or different functions, lack forecasting and reporting functionality. While ERP systems are more sophisticated, they don’t necessarily allow users to marry specific skills sets and business processes to individual project requirements.
Without visibility, organisations struggle to identify where they have excess capacity if the economy shrinks, when a certain skill set is no longer in demand due to technology evolution or a business transformation trend in a specific sector. Although staff utilisation targets must be met, it is important that the most valuable employees can be identified and retained if redundancies become necessary.
Visibility is still crucial when the economy is recovering and organisations gear up for growth. Flagging skill shortages early is vital so that firms can push those with specific skill sets into areas where they are most needed and ensuring they have enough staff when demand peaks. If there is a skill shortage, firms will have to pay more if recruiting at short notice. Companies can also identify employees that might need re-skilling or up-skilling.
Retain Resource Planning System provides professional services firms with the visibility they need to plan their resources effectively. For those organisations that prefer the software-as-a-service approach Retain Web Enterprise is a web based resource planning and skills management solution for small firms to large enterprises.