For professional services firms, we generally have two things to offer our clients; our time and expertise. Managing these assets correctly requires a unique skill set and management tools. Having worked with many professional services in Dubai to implement Salesforce, the consultants at Tenacre have had the benefit of seeing how many different types of companies manage their resources profitably.
Here are some of the things that we’ve learned.
You must track budget v actual in real time
When your sales team are putting a quote together for a project, you absolutely must build up the quote based on the number of days of named staff members. This proposal should list the resources and the number of days that are available to the project under the quoted price.
Secondly, the consultants or staff members must record their time on the project on a daily basis. Being able to see this ‘budget v actual’ data in real time enables managers to prevent the project from becoming loss making.
Use ‘white space’ analysis to redeploy staff
When using ‘Resource Management’ tools in Salesforce, you will be able to see the projects and days that each consultant are assigned to. You will also be able to see the days where consultants are not assigned (or being billed out) to another project.
This ‘white space’, which indicates the days where your staff aren’t assigned to projects, makes it easier for those resources to be reassigned to other projects as required.
Keep sales & operations in sync
Managing resources effectively in a professional services firm requires the sales team to be in constant touch with the operations managers. This communication is essential so that deals are closed and projects scheduled around the availability of key resources.
Within Salesforce CRM, Tenacre consultants will usually create reports, dashboards and automated alerts to enable sales and operations managers to see the projected demand from the sales pipeline, cross referenced with the availability of the consultants that are required to deliver the project.
Make it easy to identify and bill for specialised talent
In larger organisations it can be difficult to understand who are the key resources. This may be based on seniority, a specific skillset set or certifications. The other issue with specialised consultants is making sure that your salesperson bills them out at the correct rate, normally this is at a premium for consultants with unique skills or capabilities.
Make it easy to collaborate - have one source of truth
Professional services firms try to be as agile possible, particularly with making every effort to ensure that all consultants are assigned to fee-paying projects. To make this effective, you must create a platform where everybody that is working on a project is able to see all the information, communication and progress in one place.
For our clients, this place is Salesforce CRM. In many cases we build out ‘customer communities’ so that in addition to consultants, customers and freelancers are also able to log into Salesforce and have limited access to records, files and communication that relate to that project.
Being professionally organised with Salesforce in this way enables your professional services firm to maximise the revenue per head count by making it easy for people to join projects and immediately get up to speed.
Work on culture
We know that asking consultants to embrace the use of technology to schedule work and log time sheets can be a little difficult. This is particularly in professional services firms that are not very technical in nature. However, for the benefit of the entire organisation it’s really important that the consultants learn how to use the basic functionality of Salesforce as they go about their day to day business.
In most cases this is a case of changing culture from old behaviours to new ones. For instance, use the CRM for all of their administration rather than recording information in spreadsheets, notebooks or on email.