In a professional service firm, effective resource management is the backbone of every project and the overall business success. With the right approach to resource management, you can reduce bench times, complete projects within the time and budget, and achieve your revenue goals.
A resource is an individual or a subject matter expert that your organization has at its disposal to execute projects successfully. Ideally, managers select the best resource based on a combination of skill, expertise, availability, cost, and location. As such, managing global resources across the business can get highly complicated. You need full visibility to effectively deploy and allocate the resources to tasks or projects and schedule their time where they are required.
This is where project resource management solutions come in.
Why Is Effective Resource Management Important for Professional Services?
Resource management software is a tool that enables resource and project managers to plan and schedule resources for projects. It includes all the functionalities you need to manage your resource pool.
We’ve heard from most of our customers in professional services organizations that they spend 60-80 percent of their operating expenses on project resourcing. That doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, people and skills are the primary revenue generators for a project delivery organization. But what is concerning is that using Excel sheets and other non-scalable point solutions to manage resources is highly inefficient and hurts the cash flow.
The Top 5 Reasons Your Professional Services Organization Needs a Resource Management Solution
1. Gain Visibility into Resources
Resource conflicts can push projects from success to failure. For instance, you could be without a crucial resource for a project that is fast approaching a deadline. Even when you manage to get a few hours, seemingly small delays could snowball to derail your project completion date.
Resource management software helps you avoid such inefficiencies. It gives you full visibility into both resource availability and incoming workload. With this information, you can easily optimize workload distribution by allocating tasks to underutilized resources or hiring new ones. When you have visibility of the demand that is coming down the pipeline by skills, you can train available resources to meet the project requirements.
Project resource management solutions like Polaris are designed to give you this visibility and more. When you use our solution, project managers will have the ability to create requests with resource managers while meeting the criteria of skills, availability, location, and more. What’s more valuable is our solution’s ability to recommend ideal resources for the job. This way, you don’t have to spend hours together skimming through multiple excel sheets matching availability with incoming projects.
2. Maximize Resource Utilization
Resource management is all about optimization. Resource managers need full visibility into the current resource pool and workload to avoid under allocation and dependencies. When resources are working on multiple projects simultaneously, project managers need to understand how the time is split between the projects or between projects and administrative work to avoid over-allocation.
Managing resource allocations through emails and spreadsheets won’t cut through. Emails can quickly get buried, and excel sheets are susceptible to accidental edits, both of which can cause loss of information critical to resource and task allocation.
A resource management software like Polaris does the heavy lifting for you by analyzing real-time data to give you insights for maximum resource utilization, even when you manage a globally distributed resource pool. Resource management software gives managers the visibility they need to determine their current and future allocation levels. For global teams, Polaris provides a graphical calendar to spot underutilized or overutilized resources easily. Since all the data is updated in real-time, resource managers can generate instant reports on utilization by various criteria, visually represented through dynamic charts and graphs. This level of granular information enables early conversations between stakeholders for setting up projects for success.
3. Balance Bench Time
Bench time is non-billable hours resources spend on non-revenue generating tasks. Getting a sense of bench time trends helps resource managers to plan resource allocation more effectively. Too many non-billable hours could directly translate into cash flow problems for a professional services organization. And too little bench time could mean that your resources don’t have enough time to spend on essential tasks such as upskilling.
Resource management software helps managers allocate qualified resources on the right projects, thus reducing bench time. This directly translates into increased revenue through on-time project delivery. With a solution like Polaris, you don’t have to worry about manually matching resources with skill sets. SmartMatch gives you intelligent resource recommendations based on the skills and parameters you’ve set. This way, resource managers don’t have to spend more time on manual selection.
4. Achieve Accurate Billing
One of the most common reasons for revenue leakage at a professional service organization is inaccurate billing. Since time tracking data for each billable resource is scattered across different systems, the data can be incomplete or inaccurate at the time of billing. Furthermore, spreadsheets can considerably slow down your process. For instance, when multiple resources are working on a specific project, the billing team will have a hard time collating all timesheets in time before sending over an invoice.
A project resource management solution overcomes this challenge by accounting for every piece of work done by each resource associated with a project. With clear visibility into the projects by status — in progress, available-to-bill, billed, or outstanding — you can get the pulse of cash flow for the month or quarter. To ensure you’re not missing out on any billable opportunities, get contract terms modeled into rates and bill plans.
5. Manage Costs
Estimating cost is a predictive process of quantifying and pricing the resources as per the project’s scope. A few projects might need high-skilled resources, which come at a high cost. A few others might need junior members who come at a relatively lesser cost. Role rate and skill rate might vary depending on the demand and availability.
With resource management software, you can ensure that rates are modeled based on skills, demand, and other factors. When you are planning project bids and setting rates, you need to consider 100 percent of project costs and not just the resource’s salary. Resource management software will give you insights into metrics such as resource utilization, margin, and profits to optimize revenue plans.
While planning and managing resources is at the core of all resource management software, it needs to seamlessly integrate with other tools your enterprise business uses to get things done. The software you choose must bring business-wide data across departments, countries, and entities in real-time to create a single source of truth. This includes tools you use to manage project workload, revenue, budgets, and sales pipeline.
Polaris: The Self-Driving PSA Platform for Better Resource Management
Polaris is the first self-driving PSA platform that enables you to manage all of your project and resource-related data in one place. It lets you pool resources data, resource requisitions, and resource allocations to get instant visibility into current and future allocation levels. It also analyzes real-time data — skills, certifications, location, availability, and more — to recommend the best resources for your project’s needs.