To effectively manage work, project managers must be empowered with the right tools and processes. Take a look at the common challenges that could be hindering resource management.
The path to profitability is long-winded for businesses like IT services organizations, accounting and law firms, AEC firms, Advertising and Marketing agencies, and Contract Research Organizations that bill time and resources to projects. Such firms rely on tracking billable utilization and margins to stay a step ahead. One golden factor will decide the growth curve for such organizations – resource management effectiveness. Simply put, how well are people and projects managed? You don’t need to crumble under operational complexities when you can coast through unexpected challenges with an adept strategy. Here, let us explore the struggles project managers are facing with resource management and what firms can do to relieve the pressure with the right solutions.
Cloudy with a chance of havoc
Let’s keep this in mind – project managers could be using outdated tools, following no standardized delivery methodology, and dealing with a lack of insights, leading to several issues and work pressure. This is what we can watch out for in conversations with project managers; common refrains in discussions that indicate poor resource management is eating into profitability and that the talent is approaching frustration and burnout.
- “It’s always a best guess as to which specialist is working at capacity and who has got the right skills for this project. We don’t have any processes in place to keep the skills inventory constantly updated. So, I don’t have clarity on who I can rope in for my projects.” The lack of real-time information on resource utilization has several implications – if a business bids on a project and wins, project managers would need sufficient live data on headcount to make astute staffing decisions, that’s a given. If the skills inventory is outdated, the project managers must then make hurried or inaccurate decisions which could mean that the resources assigned to a project aren’t the right-fit, leading to disgruntled employees and unhappy clients.
- “Needs of our clients are dynamic and scope creep is a massive bottleneck. There is so much pressure to find the right people quickly AND finish the project within the determined budget and timelines.” Now, this is a massive red flag that could truly eat into a business’s profitability. There are several points to consider. Are change orders being issued as the scope of the project expands? Are team members unable to keep up with client expectations and the most critical question to consider, is the business going beyond the budget to deal with these changes? Needless to say, the project managers can accommodate unexpected changes only if the right people for the project can be quickly identified – they would also need real-time visibility or alerts on how such changes to the project are impacting profitability so that timely course-correction is done.
- “There has been friction during this project because some of the updates are conveyed across text, mail, verbally – there were resources who were freed up earlier from some of the projects that I could have used for mine – BUT I never got the update on time.” At times, project managers could be waiting for long periods or hiring consultants at higher prices solely because there are no solutions in place to accurately forecast utilization. But beyond that, a breakdown in collaboration and communication clearly indicates that it’s time to move beyond spreadsheets and improve operational processes. Organizations can enhance digital maturity with the right solutions, providing a single source of truth and enabling a defined process in place to communicate. By doing this, different stakeholders won’t have to engage in back-and-forth over different channels to negotiate over resources for a project and the business can foster a more stable working environment.
- “Without a proper way to prioritize projects and match it with the right resources, many of my team members are at the cusp of burnout and working under ludicrous pressure to meet deadlines.” There’s a risk of employees becoming demotivated if some resources on the team are overused due to improper planning while a few others are underutilized. When that’s paired with unrealistic timelines that don’t account for conflicting priorities, it’s a recipe for discontent (not to mention mistakes that come from the lack of time to do due diligence). Only if project managers have access to reports on how people are spending time, can corrective steps be taken to improve the performance of consultants and optimize workloads.
- “I’m almost always working in a reactive state as I don’t know what sales has in the pipeline, and I don’t always have the information on forecast vs/ actuals.” Yes, the solution seems obvious – businesses must foster stronger collaboration among sales and project management teams. Yet, the continuity from sales to support and beyond can only come through if the sales and project delivery teams are on the same page, access a centralized view of organizational data, and are alerted about changes that could impact plans for the near future. This alone can boost billable utilization, which is critical in the current climate where the supply of qualified consultants is far outweighed by market growth and demand.
Move confidently towards the future with the right information at the right time
It’s clear that a lack of insights, communication, and defined processes can throw a spanner in the works – technology can be a great equalizer, enabling businesses to ensure people gain the visibility needed to manage projects adeptly, relieving the immense pressure on existing talent. To begin with, companies can have the information needed to take the right business decisions and plan projects more efficiently with one significant move – using a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution.
Let’s put the significance of this software into perspective with a simple stat – there’s an astounding jump of 11% in billable utilization among professional services organizations that use PSA as compared to those that don’t as per the SPI Research 2022 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark report. What’s more, the report states that of the companies surveyed, it was clear to see that resource management effectiveness directly improves with the use of PSA solutions.
Go beyond PSA with an integrated solution
Right from taking stock of new opportunities, staffing, to project management, and collaboration, PSA provides support along the entire journey. With insights into expenses and resources down to the task level across projects, estimations and planning can be more accurate. Now, let us go one step further – what if project-based businesses had an end-to-end solution in place that integrates PSA with the HCM, Finance and accounting, and CRM solutions, giving all stakeholders a singular live view of data? It becomes easier to capitalize on the best opportunities. This is what we are offering with our solution, evergreen.
Ultimately, if you are a professional services company looking to scale, what got you here, won’t help you take the next quantum leap – only the right processes backed by the right technology can boost growth. The only question is are you ready to truly invest in your talent, help make their work more strategic, and enhance their career path? If the answer is yes, we invite you to discover more about how solutions like ours can help in the links below.