Professional services firms rely heavily on resource planning to keep their operations running smoothly.
Until now, this process was managed by dedicated planners, sitting in a local office or overseeing a region. This “old school” approach hasn’t changed much through the years, and most planners still pride themselves on their intimate knowledge of local landscapes.
Of course, it’s hard to know everything about the skills, experience and personal objectives of everyone in a team, and harder still to contextualise these within the priorities of the wider business. Factor in unexpected changes that occur every day, and things break down pretty quickly. There is simply too much complexity to handle manually.
And it gets worse.
Firms are becoming more joined up across regions and borders, adding more complexity on a national and international level. We live in a globalised world, and people planning is struggling to keep up.
Expand Your Horizons
Localised planning is no longer a realistic option. Planners need to take a step back and adopt a broader perspective. They need to consider planning variations that are vastly out of range for the traditional, localised approach. Manual planning with existing tools is fast becoming irrelevant. It doesn’t work at scale, and let’s be honest, it was often suboptimal when it came to localised planning, too.
In addition to shifting tools and systems, we need to shift mindsets. Resource planners need to move away from fighting fires, and start thinking strategically about how to stop fires from starting in the first place. What’s exciting is that most planners we speak to are chomping at the bit to make this a reality! They’re bored of playing Gantt chart Tetris and are only really stimulated by solving the most complex scheduling challenges.
Large organisations operating in many countries and continents need to consider how they can tap into economies of scale that were unimaginable only a few years ago. To do this, they should arm themselves with tools that enable them to be more strategic when people planning. This means intelligent automation.
Prepare Your Resource Planners to Win
It’s unfair to expect resource planners and resource managers to achieve the impossible and make miracles happen everyday. It’s far more sensible to enlist the help of software that can take care of the heavy lifting, enabling planners to focus on building deep and sustainable relationships with clients and practitioners. In the long run, this will enable the organisation as a whole to fulfil its strategic goals.
Nationwide and global planning have multiple benefits. They enable planners to consider an entire organisation, rather than just thinking about a localised region. This, in turn, broadens thinking and creates a joined-up enterprise that can efficiently deploy its people in the most optimal way. Planning can be based on real needs, prioritised in real-time across the entire enterprise, rather than answering the call of “whoever shouts loudest”.
Broader planning also allows engagement managers to identify cost savings and profit increases by looking at the business in a more holistic fashion, correctly positioning all the moving parts to meet the commercial objectives. For example, it might actually be more economical for professionals from other regions to complete the work, even after factoring in travel costs. This is particularly true when you consider the disparities in hourly consulting rates across a large firm, and how much those rates can vary across multiple locations in the same country.
Autonomous Planning for Everything Else
The bottom line is that the business should assign the most relevant person to a job at a rate that allows it to make the most profit. This might sound obvious, but it’s incredible how much waste is caused by a lack of global planning and joined-up thinking, or by simply lacking a single source of truth to inform decision-making.
Ultimately, we live in a hyper-competitive world where scale is becoming critical in all aspects of business. Why should people planning be any different? To win here, large, global firms need to manage thousands of employees with different skills, experience levels, independence restrictions, and personal career goals. This all needs to be considered whilst meeting deadlines and answering the urgent (and sometimes changing) demands of clients.
Successful people planning that drives commercial success requires more than just competent planners, sheer willpower, and strong coffee. It requires help from technology, too. Intelligent automation and autonomous planning can help, and in the coming weeks and months we’re going to show you how.