Professional services: Maximize your resource utilization this holiday season

Guest Post: By Lakshmi Raj, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO, Replicon

 

Chestnuts are roasting, and halls are decked – with the holidays around the corner, professional services organizations should already be anticipating potential dips in productivity as sick days, vacations, and PTO ramp up for the season. Employees taking regular time off is important – it ’s been proven to reduce stress and avoid burnout. However, without careful supervision, it can snowball into serious organizational and project liabilities. The trick to maintaining a well-oiled machine, without hampering the holiday spirit, lies with effective project resource management initiatives.

Resource utilization: Why is it important?

Tracking billable hours alone may be the most prevalent method today for defining total time in a global organization, but it’s hardly the most accurate. Without a centralized approach built-in to their processes, every services company department and team has their own methodology for measuring utilization. This can get messy. Resources can move from project to project, making schedules quickly unmanageable when businesses don’t have 100% visibility of their resource time. Additionally, for global companies, holidays differ across countries year-round, ultimately impacting availability and productivity.  All of this can negatively impact project allocations and utilization – and by extension, profitability.

Have a holly, jolly business

In order to keep the holidays merry and bright, a few considerations should be made in advance of the season:  

Be proactive

No need to go very far – some of the best answers are right under your nose. By analyzing historical data, businesses can anticipate seasonal downtrends in productivity and take charge ahead of time. Reviewing and collating project resources data from previous years helps pinpoint where the company has historically seen dips in performance. This is a good indicator of whether extra temporary staff should be hired, or additional assignments should be scheduled – and ensures that the holiday season doesn’t adversely affect the bottom line.

Go beyond the billable hour

If it isn’t being tracked, it isn’t being billed. A sound observation, to be sure – but you wouldn’t know it judging by the way many professional service organizations define their metrics for total time. Billable time and total time are often treated as synonymous, despite the very real discrepancies that exist between them. Without 100% visibility into an organization’s project resource time and work, determining the actual number of billable hours is next to impossible. In reality, every minute employees perform should be accounted for, and used when creating project allocations for managing resource utilization. This way, holidays won’t introduce another level of confusion in the mix.

Simply having a wonderful business time

No less valuable than money, people, or intellectual property, time itself should be recognized as an organization’s most important strategic asset. When all projects and time can be tracked and tied to outcomes produced, you can get the whole picture on productivity and profitability. A solution with the ability to account for imbalances in time between region, department, and resources with one clear consensus on the metrics is how services businesses can optimize time for the holidays, and all year round.

 

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