Written By Guest Author: Mark Sloan, Managing Director, Asaph Advisors
The Need for Effective Resource Management Techniques
“Sloan’s Professional Services Team is going to be 400 people short if all these deals hit,” said the VP of Sales.
On one hand that sounds great, right? Growth is good!
The issue was, I had only started at the company two weeks earlier and we were just forming the Professional Services (PS) group, as the company was transitioning from being an outsourced / managed services company to providing licensed software.
The job spec I was hired on said, “Lead a team of eight wireless industry consultants.”
So, I was pretty confident that no one was going to let me go open 400 job recs.
Also, I am pretty sure the VP of Sales may have been setting me up for a scenario where I was one person short and we didn’t get a project done, didn’t make revenue, and it would be all my fault and his team should still get their commission and bonus checks. I mean, he told me to hire 400 people. Right?
So, I had to get ahead of the curve and figure out what the real resource need was. I knew the importance of effective resource management techniques and even prior to showing up for work on the first day, I had plans to build a resource management function to assist with staffing.
Bonus: Download a FREE guide that dives into resource management techniques to maximize employee retention. Includes strategies for managing the causes of churn in service organizations.
2 Resource Management Concepts and Techniques to Understand
#1: Focus on Staffing
To me, staffing is the focus on “what roles do we need to staff yesterday through the next few weeks.” I call it the “-5 to +15-day window.” It’s like Air Traffic Control. Just as Air Traffic Control facilitates the flow of planes, the resource manager would help move available resources to the area of need. So in effect, staffing is just another way to think about resource allocation in project management.
#2: Focus on Forecasting
That wasn’t really my challenge, though. My challenge was about “scenario planning”– I needed to forecast the next few months of resource needs. I now call this the “+1 to +6-month window.”
To me, effective resource management strategies and tactics must focus on both forecasting AND staffing.
In fact, with a strong focus on forecasting, staffing actually becomes a lot easier. When you have a plan for the volume and type of work that is going to come, you have more time to plan for it.
Think of it this way: sales (and finance!) are constantly looking at the sales pipeline to understand what is likely to close, and then finance can develop financial projections for the quarter, year, etc.
Using Resource Management Techniques to Create the Resource Pipeline
Professional Services teams need their own forecast built by translating the sales pipeline to a resource pipeline (i.e., forecast). When you lay this forecast against your current data, you can begin to see whether you have: 1) a surplus of resources; 2) a shortage of resources; or 3) the right quantity of resources but a skills mismatch between supply and demand.
This resource management concept of forecasting allows you to proactively: 1) verify demand with sales (reducing friction between the PS and sales team; 2) demonstrate to finance when/where/how/why you need to hire or contract (reducing the natural friction that occurs when you want to open recs); 3) build a pipeline of candidates to hire when demand materializes (reducing friction with clients and sales relating to starting work on time); and 4) enable cross-training and career development for your team (which helps the PS team for sure).
If this sounds complicated, it’s not. It just takes discipline. It’s like an exercise program—the hardest part is getting started. Once you start applying these resource management techniques, it is easier each day to get up and exercise.
In today’s environment, resource management is harder than it’s ever been. There’s high potential employee turnover due to burnout, longer hiring cycles, and lack of skilled talent—all coming against growing demand for consulting and professional services. Establishing and executing effective resource management techniques and strategies will move you from a reactive to a proactive position, positively impacting every aspect of your business.
Mark Sloan is Managing Director at Asaph Advisors. Sloan has been in the Consulting and Technology Professional Services Industry for nearly 30 years–starting his career at Accenture; leading and growing Convergys’ Professional Services group to $400M; and advising numerous technology professional services organization.
During his tenure at Convergys, Professional Services achieved revenue CAGR of 22% (vs. an industry average of 6%) and his team of 1,600 resources met or exceeded its utilization target for 40 straight months.
Sloan’s clients credit his consulting recommendations with helping drive $MM of bottom-line improvement. Clients range from small and VC-backed organizations to PE-backed roll-ups to Fortune 500 organizations.
Sloan earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
He can be reached at [email protected]
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Frequently Asked Questions About Resource Management Techniques
What are resource management techniques?
Two effective resource management techniques and concepts to understand are:
1. Focus on staffing
2. Focus on forecasting
Why are resource management techniques important?
Resource management techniques are effective for professional services organizations in that they allow resource managers to see:
1. When there’s a surplus of resources
2. When there’s a shortage of resources
3. When you have the right quantity of resources but a skills mismatch between supply and demand
What are the objectives of using resource management techniques?
Resource management techniques such as forecasting allow professional services organizations to proactively:
1. Verify demand with sales
2. Demonstrate to finance when/where/how/why you need to hire or contract
3. Build a pipeline of candidates to hire when demand materializes