Consulting firms: What are the challenges of resource planning ? (2022)Resource planning
The challenges of resource planning in consultancies
resource planning is at the heart of the partners' concerns. Since we sell grey matter time, it is essential to manage availability and skills to optimise the availability of consultants. Here is a brief overview of the issues and the responses of the firms to these problems.
The resource planning is a particularly critical issue, as it is key to the firm's profitability and can be very complex to get right. Here are all the parameters to be taken into account:
The pipe and the workload to be managed
To know who to staff, you must first know what the needs are. Somehow, you need to have a complete picture of the needs of the current assignments. That is to say: recent proposals won and those that have been presented to prospects and their chances of success. And for each of these projects, the needs must be identified (number of days, seniority, particular expertise, etc.)
Availability of consultants
This is obviously the major point. First of all, you need to have the information: who is available today to work on a "propal"? Which junior will be available for three months from next week to work on the mission we have just sold? We need to collect the most up-to-date and reliable information in order to know the sure and presumed availability (a mission sold at 70%, for example) of each other.
The skills required
For some assignments, special expertise is required. An Excel whiz to do a financial assignment, a rail expert to work for the SNCF, etc. Remembering all the assignments and the skills of everyone in the firm is not always easy, especially if you have many colleagues. But you have to do your best to find the person who will best convince your prospect to choose your firm, and who will carry out the project most effectively.
Some assignments should be allowed to go before others, and for several possible reasons. For example, an assignment may be strategic for the firm, because if it is small or has been poorly sold, it may open the door to a second, much larger and more profitable assignment. Engagements with higher ARRs may also be prioritised, for example.
Consultants' desires and career management
The last two elements to take into account are the desire of the consultants (so-and-so who spent 4 years in Brest at Orange may want to change their ways a little), and the management of their skills. To prepare young people to be managers, they need to have seen a certain number of different types of missions, and to have been able to handle presentations and Excel, short missions and long missions, etc. Tracking each person's history and the gaps that need to be filled in a career path allows resource planning to be adapted in this sense.
The processes generally in place
Consultancies have developed different models of resource planning. They are supported by ongoing processes and highlights of resource planning such as the weekly meeting aptly named "de resource planning ". Here are the practices identified by Stafiz:
In this case, a limited number of people, usually the managing director or the 2 or 3 partners of a firm, make the decision on assignments. These people must therefore know each of the associates well.
All partners and managers of a firm can staff someone on an assignment. If a consultant is available, it is possible to staff them directly without validation. The resource planning is accelerated, but this includes risks: overestimated workloads, unsold proposals, etc. In some firms, the consultants themselves have control over their resource planning. This empowerment does not exclude control, which the partners can do at any time by consulting the data in the ERP.
The need sheets :
In a centralised process, requirements sheets can be written for resource planning. Created at the start of an assignment, or when a redesign is required, they include the basic information of the request. This information includes: seniority, profiles, dates, workload, specific skills. These sheets are then reconciled to coordinate needs and availability and find the best combination
The meetings of resource planning :
Most firms organise meetings (weekly or fortnightly) for face-to-face discussions on resource planning. These meetings usually start with a summary of the pipe and the proposals won and last one to two hours depending on the trade-offs to be made.
The contribution of software :
Most consultancies still use Excel to manage their resource planning. However, new technologies bring undeniable advantages:
- Collaboration: everyone can, depending on the authorisations they have been given, see and modify the information that interests them. For example, a junior may only be able to view his or her own resource planning, while associates may modify everyone's resource planning .
- Reliability of information: data can be modified 24/7, and everyone can modify the data they have access to. This army of contributors makes it possible to have a reliable resource planning on a daily basis. If a resource planning is not up to date, several elements will in some way force the manager to update it: for example, it may be his partner who asks him to do so, because he himself needs to take stock of the activity. The partner can also modify resource planning to bring it up to date. Juniors can also see that their resource planning and ask for an update if necessary. Finally, the manager himself is alerted, if his resource planning forecast is incomplete. His margin rate will be wrong and his management of the mission degraded; he will therefore be encouraged to update the data.
- Real time: no need to call all your colleagues, or to run around the corridors to get the latest information, just log on (on your mobile for example) to get the resource planning live.
Stafiz is a software from resource planning that helps you manage your resources and pilot your projects. Benefit from real-time visibility on your employees' workloads and schedules. Search and assign your resources to your missions with greater ease. Optimize your employees' workload to ensure their retention!
To learn more about the Stafiz platform, visit the dedicated page.
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