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The secret to effective resource management for PSOs

from  November 29, 2022 | 4 min read

The global professional services sector is broad and covers a variety of industries, from management consulting, IT consulting, engineering, and construction to law and accounting. Despite the varied nature of these professions, each needs project managers, resource managers, and team leaders to take a strategic approach to capacity and demand planning. Resources, the people responsible for delivering a task or project, have a finite availability. They must be used tactically to ensure high customer satisfaction and to maximize the profitability of the project. That’s where resource management comes in.

Resource management is all about the practice of planning, scheduling, and allocating people to a project or engagement. In short, it is the process of allocating resources to achieve the greatest organizational value. This value is realized in customer satisfaction and revenue generation. For professional services organizations (PSOs), resource management deals with patterns of availability, utilization targets, and resourcing approval workflows. It filters consultants' skills and experiences into quantitative assessments, certification levels, and skills databases.

Finding the right people for the job

Top talent is in demand, and resource management has become an increasingly complex issue. Organizations are now taking advantage of a diverse blend of resources, complementing existing teams with contractors, freelancers, and partners. Within any organization, there are people with experience and skills that can deliver value for their customers. It is important to have a system that finds the person that is right for each project. The right enterprise resource planning (ERP) system will track skills and experience within the organization so that the right talent can be found for each assignment.

Strategic resource management for PSOs

With market growth and an increasing talent shortage, effective resource management has become critical as the supply of qualified consultants is outstripped by the demand for services. Improving and maintaining high levels of billable utilization is a constant challenge requiring a delicate balance between demand (sales) and capacity (delivery).

Service Performance Insight (SPI) is a global research, consulting, and training organization dedicated to helping PSOs make quantum improvements in productivity and profit. Their Professional Services Maturity™ Benchmark Report has become the gold standard for industry benchmarking. This year’s study dives deep into the most critical factors, including successes, challenges, business adjustments, and opportunities.

One of the most important success factors discussed in the report is service execution, and one of the essential elements of this is resource management and scheduling. SPI Research has developed this ‘Resource Management Maturity Model™’ to help PSOs succeed:

  • Sales pipeline: integration of the sales project pipeline with resource requirements and availability.
  • Resource Management: the process of scheduling and deploying resources. Resource management can be centralized or decentralized.
  • Functional interlock: alignment between the sales project pipeline, the resource management process, the recruiting process, the human resource onboarding and skill development processes, and the resources themselves.
  • Human Resource Processes: recruiting, onboarding, ramping, and resource skill development.
  • Resources: the consultants and contractors available to deliver projects and engagements.

Although there isn’t a single magic bullet for resource management strategy, whichever approach you take, here are SPI’s top essentials for successful resource management:

  • Integrating your management solutions: total project visibility is impossible without a single source of truth.
  • Break down silos between the sales process, HR process, and project delivery process: all three of these areas hold data that can inform the decisions made by others as to how projects are pitched, won, staffed, and billed.
  • Automate and virtualize workflows to improve flexibility, simplify business processes, and boost project forecasting accuracy.

Resource management is key to service execution and client relationships. The better your resource management, the higher your utilization, the more easily you’ll handle bigger projects with less overrun, the more likely your clients will offer references, and the higher your revenue-per-head will be.

Technology and effective resource management

Many firms polled for the SPI report lacked the necessary visibility and information to make real-time decisions. Leveraging cloud technology (like ERP and professional services automation (PSA) solutions) helps ensure this level of visibility while breaking down internal silos and providing support for customer relationship management and service execution through new capabilities like AI, machine learning, and smart automation.

Unit4 People Planning is a tool that provides intuitive and efficient operational planning and more effective resource utilization both in projects and within individual departments. When combined with Unit4 FP&A, capacity and demand dashboards give an overview of available capacity and staffing in projects and individual departments for each employee and the entire company. Each employee can plan tasks and record requests for holidays and absences for any other reason in a personal calendar. Business leaders can compare the remaining available time, budget, and the remaining amount of work, allowing them to monitor the progress in the implementation of projects.

But technology can’t do the job alone

The most successful professional services resource management processes use a combination of technology and first-rate project managers to ensure the organization’s needs are met. Purely algorithm-driven processes will miss the human touch needed to create the right balance. And purely manual processes will lack the speed technology allows. Sharp PSOs will use both smart technology and astute people to develop their resource management processes.

The most successful organizations will work out the best way to use professional services automation (PSA) software to standardize their resource management processes, provide the information schedulers need to make the right decisions, and supply the tools necessary to allow them to execute those decisions efficiently.

How can Unit4 help PSOs with effective resource management?

We have deep knowledge of PSOs and their processes. With the right technology supporting you, you can focus on the People Experience to help free your professionals to do more of what matters: attracting, supporting, and retaining clients.

Our people-centric, project-focused solutions are purpose-built. Firms can better manage their businesses with industry-leading software for ERP, FP&A, and Human Capital Management (HCM).

Our PSA software is a single application to manage and optimize your end-to-end business from funnel to cash. Purposeful automation enables you to Pivot, Strengthen, and Accelerate your business. Our practice management solution helps you stay at the forefront of the changing business environment and focus on People Experience for your customers and employees.

Check out Unit4's People Experience suite. Our solutions support all types of PSOs worldwide, offering unbeatable functionality.

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Bryce Wolf

Bryce Wolf

Senior Manager, Industry Solutions

Bryce Wolf is a Senior Manager of Industry Solutions at Unit4 and is responsible for the delivery of Unit4’s product strategy for our strategic verticals. He is responsible for the delivery of Unit4’s PSO Industry Models and MESH, and works closely with Product Directors to ensure a complete end to end solution for Professional Services Organizations. Bryce has experience in consulting and product strategy at Oracle+NetSuite, JDA Software, FinancialForce, and management consulting firms prior to joining Unit4 in 2021.