Efficiently managing resources is one of the key challenges for service organizations. Not only are you trying to manage a range of projects of varying sizes and complexity, you’re trying to manage the pipeline of incoming work as well. Resource management is only one element of managing a successful service organization, but as resources are one of the largest expenses for companies operating in this space, resource management is crucial.
Business Intelligence (BI) is a method for surfacing the data from your enterprise software to give you insights into business operations.
Business intelligence is typically a combination of:
- Built-in reports and dashboards
- Trend analysis
- Data visualization
- Custom reporting
- Data integration with other systems
BI uses the data being entered by your consultants and project teams to calculate information on fees, margins, staff utilization, time and expenses, and more.
The great thing is that all the data is already in your system. Your teams are already using applications to schedule resources, book time, record planned vacation days, allocate work, and manage their tasks. Adding a BI layer allows your Operational System of Record, which has integrated these many different components, to see all the data required to drive business performance, including how to better carry out resource management for optimum results.
There are particular gains to be had in resource management because things never seem to go exactly as planned wherever humans are involved! Robust BI lets you quickly answer important questions about how a project or team is performing, and take early action to ensure the work stays on track. Here are five benefits of using BI alongside your resource management software solutions.
Benefit #1: Match Availability to Work More Quickly
Are you really sure who is available to take on that next client engagement? Spreadsheets are never 100% up to date. Timesheets are helpful for calculating billable hours but not for forecasting availability into the future.
When your project teams are using an Operational System of Record with Business Intelligence components, it’s possible for your team members to forecast their availability more accurately. However, while that’s helpful for them on an individual engagement level, resource managers also need access to this information to plan who is assigned to new work flowing into the pipeline.
A BI layer makes all this information discoverable. Standard reports can easily show who has availability in the time period required. You can save a lot of time crunching spreadsheets or contacting departmental managers trying to source someone with enough slack in their calendar to take on an urgent piece of work. Instead, let the reports surface the information you need to take decisions and book more work.
Benefit #2: Match Skills to Work More Efficiently
Resource availability is certainly a factor when it comes to scheduling new client projects, but businesses also need to make sure the people booked for tasks have the right skills. Business Intelligence can help with this, as well. A people-centric solution will capture the skill profiles of your resources so you can match consultants to projects.
This is helpful at the start of a new project, but also helps if you uncover a need for a particular resource type or if the client requests a change that can only be met by someone with certain skills in the middle of a project. Your BI software can quickly uncover everything you need to know in real-time to incorporate that change and find the right person without losing time on the project overall.
Benefit #3: Improve Profitability and Increase Margins
The final piece of resource allocation for many professional service businesses is finding the most profitable use of resources. You don’t want your most skilled consultants being allocated to projects where they can only be billed at a lower rate. Resource management systems provide the most profitable outcomes when the billable rates of consultants are taken into account too.
Once again, BI makes this possible. You can cut the data in any way you like to provide bespoke information about your resource pool. This has an immediate impact on financial performance. When the right consultants are being booked to the most appropriate jobs, you can take on higher-margin work and optimize utilization easily.
Benefit #4: Eliminate Time-Consuming Repetitive Work
An element of professional services and project management is administrative. You need to document your findings, account for your time, and provide clients with the information they need in the form of regular reports. You can’t get away from that, but you can make completing routine and repetitive work easier.
Your BI system can pull information together for you to save time on these tasks. For example, you can schedule tailored reports to run at various points within a project, and have them sent to clients or managers within your business.
When you have a Business Intelligence solution doing the heavy lifting, people doing value-added, client-facing work can be more efficient and get more done.
Benefit #5: Increase Customer Satisfaction
Many of the most profitable projects are repeat business because acquiring a customer for the second time costs much less than making that initial bid. That’s why it’s so important to ensure customer satisfaction is front of mind during a project.
Using BI along with your resource management system is an easy way to make small changes that support your goal of customer satisfaction. For example, you can:
- Ensure the right people are working on the right tasks, leading to better outcomes, a higher likelihood of on-time delivery and more reliable estimating
- Secure the client’s ‘favorite’ resources based on their feedback
- Switch in equally skilled staff during vacation time
- Provide the client with detailed reporting about what individuals did and when, improving transparency and building trust.
Ensuring the people who work directly with clients have the right skills to do the job is made easier when you can interrogate your data through a BI layer.
There are many advantages of having real-time, hands-on access to the data you need to make resourcing decisions in your business – these are just some of the common benefits we see time and time again. A BI layer can have a huge impact on business profitability and project outcomes. How much difference could it make to your teams?