Professional services organizations face increasing pressures to perform. With a highly skilled and expensive pool of resources, their effective utilization is the key to profitable performance. With a large number of software tools available, what are the key capabilities that need to be in place?
Work requests, project estimates and other demand needs to be easily entered into the system. Innate’s resource planning system, with web based spreadsheets, is appropriate. They capture demand profiles for new work and immediately show the skill capacity to take it on.
Where the bottlenecks are unacceptable, ‘What If…’ scenarios help to evaluate project scheduling options and re-balance the workload. Scenarios are not only useful for new work, but also as priorities and scope changes occur. Re-balancing is a common requirement in busy professional services organizations.
Planning & Scheduling
The appropriate planning tool must be available. With Innate resource management software, you can use Microsoft Project or the Innate web based spreadsheet for detailed planning. For more complex projects, budgets and date constraints can be established initially within Innate and copied to Microsoft Project for top down planning.
A simple way of getting staff assigned to the most important projects is necessary, based on their skills and commitments. As project task dates change any new conflicts need to be highlighted straightaway, and scenarios available to help evaluate alternative courses of action.
Web based Timesheets can be used to track how time is being spent and record estimates of remaining work. Where the plan has been developed in Microsoft Project, this data should be returnable for detailed project tracking.
Standard reports should show staff utilization and project effort, and automatic email alerts be available to drive the timesheet process.
Schedule and cost variances for each project should be updated as timesheets are processed and, as tasks are completed, they need to be compiled as project metrics. Where project templates are used, the estimating metrics can be refined for future projects.
Learning by experience in this way can lead to genuine competitive advantage.
Cost and Rates Management
Activity based costing is needed to ensure that the appropriate rates are used when staff perform different roles in a project. Changes in staff rates and departments must be tracked over time for accurate cost analysis.
Expenses and Billing
For billable work, expenses should be captured alongside timesheet entry. The billing process must apply appropriate rates to the booked hours and capture expenses for approvers to review and prepare invoices. Project profitability reports are required to track each contract’s financial performance
Integration with other systems
An easy to configure integration to manage the transfer of data to and from other systems is useful, particularly to speed up the Invoicing process and feed data to the Finance system.
Innate provides these capabilities and is particularly suited where professional services organizations are struggling with spreadsheets and/or Microsoft Project. Why not check out Innate resource management software?