4 Ways to Break down Silos & Optimize Resource Utilization

4 Ways to Break Down Silos & Optimize Resource Utilization

Posted by  Alberto Chiang

As discussed in a study done by Tata Consultancy Services, getting business units to share information across organizational silos has been an issue for decades. Silos used to be part of the corporate culture: employees would keep their information within the department or project team to protect confidentiality. Today, business departments are protective of their data because they don’t have any incentive or the right tools to share information.

This is not a foreign issue for professional services organizations (PSOs) and, in many cases, is one of the reasons for dysfunction and inefficiency. “Silos… exist in all companies…. They usually occur in the choppy waters between groups or functions where responsibility and accountability are blurry. A classic example… who is responsible for driving new service revenues – is it sales or delivery?” asks SPI Research in the 2015 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark Report.

The lines between sales, delivery and finance are unclear in PSOs, making it difficult to operate if departments are siloed. Everyone from the CFO to the Project Manager needs real-time visibility and intelligence. Silos can contribute to lack of efficiency in the overall project and may have a negative impact in the PSO productivity culture. Allocating resources can be dramatically improved when Project and Resource Managers have full visibility to the bigger picture.

Here are four ways resource utilization can be optimized by breaking down silos:

1. Get your services team involved early

According to SPI Research, achieving client satisfaction and profit in PSOs requires tight coordination between demand and supply. Here is what you should consider:

  • Get your services and project team involved before the deal closes to help manage expectations.
  • Provide sales a view of what is and isn’t possible so they can be confident you’ll deliver what you have promised to the clients.
  • With visibility to what is coming down the pipeline, you can start forecasting and planning resources.
  • Integrate your project management system with your CRM. This is key to ensure the system offers you real time visibility.
  • Break down silos between sales and services for a better picture of your resource utilization.

2. Gain real-time visibility across your entire organization

Coordination between supply and demand, multiple ongoing projects and resources with different skills make resource utilization very complex without real time visibility.

  • In order to monitor, measure and manage metrics, you need a single information center where you can access real time data synchronized from timesheets, resources availability and utilization.
  • Collaborate between departments through a fully integrated system to increase visibility across finance, sales and services teams. Keeping the conversation in the same system limits miscommunication.

3. Keep up with changes as they happen

During the project lifecycle, multiple unexpected changes can arise so having flexibility to operate is key. You need to know right away if a deal didn’t close, or if your deployment and allocation of resources are affecting financial forecast and budgets.

  • Make sure there are no silos between services and finance so you have a full picture of how resource utilization affects the bottom line.
  • Use predictive analysis to see how changes you make affect cost and profitability.

4. Allocate resources and look after your people

Silos across regions or departments make it hard to share the strengths and experiences people bring to each project.

  • By breaking down silos between services and HR, you gain visibility to employee skills, information already approved by HR, consultants’ career aspirations and utilization actual vs targets.
  • When allocating resources to a project, increase utilization and help valuable resources achieve their career goals. A perfect example is shown in Become a Utilization Hero video (7:27 min).

There is no room for silos when net profit and billable utilization are under pressure in professional services. You need to have real time visibility, take action right away and have the flexibility to make changes as you go. The only way you can accomplish this is by having the right system, a fully integrated project-based ERP solution. “Integration provides visibility to all parts of the organization and helps break down organizational silos.” – SPI Research, 2015 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark Report

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Alberto Chiang

Alberto is a Marketing Coordinator at Unit4. He's interested in people and project management, technology and professional services.

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