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Solving the resource management riddle

The Technology & Services Industry Association (TSIA) recently analyzed its interactions with professional services organizations and noticed a startling trend:

Effective resource management was the number one business challenge those organizations reported experiencing regularly.

Depending on what your business is experiencing, this feedback may not come as a surprise. Certainly, we are seeing unexpected ripple effects of the pandemic in the professional services industry. Voluntary attrition rates, for example, hit 8.5% in 2021 according to a TSIA benchmark survey.

And there are other persisting industry trends challenging the hiring and retention of professional services employees:

  • Remote work: The shift from on-site and in-person work to virtual environments has created a shift in employee mindset; they are less likely to be as invested or loyal to their company or customers, resulting in higher attrition rates.

  • A greater focus on customer value and product adoption: In its 2022 Alignment Workshop Survey, TSIA saw a dramatic increase in the percentage of professional services organizations shifting their focus from improving margins and profitability to increasing customer value and product adoption. With more than one-third of companies surveyed citing this new charter, the right combination of employee skills and automated solutions is necessary to realize this goal.

  • The work expectations of the younger generations: In its 2022 Employee Engagement Survey, TSIA found drastic differences among generations relative to how long they intend to remain at their professional services company; for example, more than a quarter of Gen Z respondents said they would remain at their current company for only 1-2 years, compared to just 10% of Baby Boomers. While perhaps not surprising, the findings point to a need for professional services organizations to better understand employee expectations and make adjustments to appeal to those.

There are many industry forces that require professional services organizations to rethink their approach to resource management. We do notice a common thread among these industry forces – they require both people and automation.

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Excellent resource management balances humans and automation

The technology is essential, that is clear. Professional Services Automation (PSA) from FinancialForce is supremely good at running the algorithms that ensure the right people are matched with the right projects, resources are appropriately scheduled, utilization targets are met, and revenue predictions are within forecasted ranges.

What PSA delivers is impressive, but automation alone can’t run the whole show.

In professional services, nothing is ever exactly the same all of the time without fail. Within resource management, there need to be accommodations for human involvement.

Perhaps your resource manager isn’t aware that one of your customer success managers has a background in healthcare and would be a perfect match for a new client in the healthcare industry. Maybe a client has a problematic tendency to derail timelines and needs special attention to keep things on track.

The technology can manage the data and report it, but there are always special cases like these in which people need to extrapolate it and apply more emotionally-driven tactics and strategies that further support successful resource management. This winning combination of automation and people ensures success for your business and your customers.

How can your company begin to rethink resource management?

Whether you have identified resource management as a top challenge or have just begun giving it some thought, it’s smart to consider the ways in which your company can approach professional services resource management differently.

Each of the following approaches reflects a combination of automation and people in which the PSA software is used for exactly what it’s good at – performing in support of resource management – so the humans can make informed decisions and execute those decisions effectively.

Streamline resource forecasting

As projects become more detailed and complex and produce richer data and greater insights, the skills required to execute those projects also need to evolve. With resource forecasting capabilities as part of your PSA’s resource management solution, it becomes easier to anticipate demand. TSIA found that it currently takes companies an average of 18 business days to source a new professional services engagement. If you don’t have the right employee skill sets matched to those incoming projects, that time can increase fast, creating customer backlogs and damaging customer success and employee satisfaction.

Adapt to the increasing complexity of technology

While technology makes it easier for businesses to execute projects and manage organizational functions, it has grown more complex in order to do so. In fact, 73% of TSIA’s members reported that their technology products are “highly complex” in 2022, as opposed to just 42% in 2003. With increased product sophistication comes a need for deeper skill sets and expertise among employee teams. Professional services organizations will need to focus efforts on recruiting individuals who can effectively manage these technological complexities for their customers.

Drive focus on product adoption and delivering customer value

As we noted, the charter for businesses is shifting away from margins and profitability and toward greater product adoption and increasing customer value. To achieve these goals effectively, two activities need to happen: professional services teams need to anticipate the types of projects they’ll be tackling down the road, and then begin recruitment efforts for people with the right sets of skills who can take on those projects and positively impact customer success. There is some important internal work to do as well to empower your teams and your technology. The more information you have about your target markets and customers, the more impactful your charter for driving success will be.

Meet changing employee expectations

Technology and employee satisfaction are inextricably linked. In 2021, TSIA reported that only 37% of XaaS companies have a dedicated resource management function, and one of the contributing factors to that low number is a lack of an operational system of record. Single platform technology solutions that connect operations and increase visibility make everything easier for employees – it’s only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to hiring and retention, but it’s a big one, and a cornerstone expectation for today’s workforce.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how Professional Services Automation from FinancialForce can help you perfect resource management, creating success for your customers and your employees. Our single-platform solution runs on the Salesforce cloud and helps you put your customers at the center of everything you do.

 

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