Professional services firms: Deliver more projects on-time & on-budget

While those vocations that fall under the professional services umbrella vary widely depending on industry, their underlying organizational similarities are obvious when looking at their common goal: delivering projects on-time and on-budget.

For lawyers, IT professionals, consultants, architects, financial advisors, software engineers and more, the ability to meet customer demands without incurring additional costs or requiring extra time is critical to an organization’s profitability. And yet, this is often easier said than done in the professional services space. According to an IBM study, only 41 percent of change projects meet their schedule, budget, and quality goals, and service-based organizations frequently run into operational issues that risk client relationships and can lose profits.

Below we discuss a few ways that improved visibility, access to historical data, and automated processes can help your firm eliminate common causes of project delays and overruns.

Elimination of manual processes

Despite the influx of disruptive technologies, professional services tend to rely on old school methods. If your company still uses spreadsheets and Excel to track everything from billables, hours, project scheduling, and project management, then the administrative overhead you incur from doing so likely introduces artificial delays in projects, communication, and billing.

When information needs to be collated manually from multiple systems just to get a unified view, then you risk losing billable hours, and don’t have access to real-time project information. This can substantially damage communication efforts with your client, as you limit your ability to effectively anticipate, recognize, and communicate delays or additional costs in a timely manner. With automated project management and time tracking processes, you can access real-time project data and identify potential red flags ahead of time. This way, you can either deploy additional resources to help diminish any anticipated delays (or take other preventative action), or keep your client well-informed of potential changes to the project cost or schedule.

Visibility (into projects, resources, & historical data)

Simply put, improved project delivery can’t happen if you don’t have thorough and accessible data to help with resource allocation and forecasting accuracy. As fixed bid projects and shared risk models become increasingly popular with clients, the need for professional services firms to increase visibility into both resource management and historical project delivery data is more critical than ever. Without visibility into future resourcing, go-live estimates often miss the mark, without visibility into historical data about project task level efforts, work estimates often miss the mark, and without a skill set catalog, execution resources often miss the mark.

Resource allocation

Resource allocation should be based on objective data — not guesswork or team politics. Employees vary in both skill set and workload, so capturing and tracking both the skills and experience of your workforce, as well as their current and upcoming projects, allows you to assign projects to the most viable, equipped, and available resource every time. Just 35 percent of professional services firms claim the ability to model individual resources across multiple projects for precise time ranges, which means the majority of firms are losing money and efficiency through lack of clarity and oversight around their resources and projects.

This kind of proactive and thoughtful scheduling also goes far in the way of reducing employee attrition. By paying closer attention to who is over- or under-worked, and making a concerted effort to ensure that specific skill sets match specific projects, employees are likely to experience less burnout on the job.

Forecasting accuracy

Uneven demand in the professional services space can also quickly derail project delivery if you don’t adequately accommodate boom cycles with additional hiring. Access to granular and historical data enables your company to discern various patterns and trends in your pipeline, and hire accordingly. You want to know if your company typically sees a spike in demand in Q2, and historically how many additional hires are needed to compensate. This way, you can switch from fire-fighting and stretched-thin resources to proactive hiring and project planning.

Informed project estimates

Similar to forecasting accuracy, insight into historical behavior can help your firm create estimates for future projects that are based on real data. Past realities are the best predictor for future performance — and the more data you gather, the better those estimates will be. It goes without saying that more accurate, informed project estimates enable you to craft and accept realistic proposals, and pave the way for on-time project delivery and satisfied customers.

 

Regina Mullen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Regina Mullen
Regina is the Workforce Management Expert & Content Marketing Associate for Replicon. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.
Get started today.
Set up a free trial based on your business needs. Start Free Trial

Want Real Solutions That Help You Manage Expense Tracking in Real-Time? We’ve Got Them.

A comprehensive expense tracker can provide your organization with clear insights into how corporate time and dollars are being spent and help you identify unnecessary costs, strains, time-wasting activities, and…Read More

Project Leaders: Here Are 3 Signs Your Remote Project Managers Are Overwhelmed with Technology

Overwhelmed project managers. They are not hard to find. And if you look closely, you’ll probably find a few right within your organization. As it is, project management is stressful…Read More

5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating and Purchasing New Time Tracking Software for Your Enterprise

Time. Regardless of how well your organization performs year over year, time is one thing that you can’t order more of. There are no do-overs, no second chances, and no…Read More

Will AI replace consultants?

The onset of AI and smart machines automating formerly-human jobs has been discussed at length as of late -- often in relation to manufacturing and manual labor jobs. And yet,…Read More

6 steps for fast-tracking profitability in your consulting practice

Advice aimed at entrepreneurs and small businesses tends to be heavily product-oriented, but in reality the majority of US small businesses fall under the “Professional, Scientific, Technical, and Other Services”…Read More

Consulting firms: 4 ways to improve billing & get paid on time

At the end of the day, your consulting firm relies on the assumption that a good percentage of clients will honor their payments promptly and accurately. In the professional services…Read More
  • Polaris
  • Time & Project Insights
  • Time & Projects Solutions
  • Replicon Products
  • Replicon Users
  • Cloud
  • Corporate
  • Professional Services Management
  • Shared Services Management
  • Time and Attendance Management
  • Customer Feature
  • Time Intelligence
  • Industry News
  • Global Compliance Updates