Over the years, the consulting industry has grown substantially. As per Business Wire,
“The global management consulting services market is expected to expand from $819.79 billion in 2020 to $1201.06 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 8%.”
With the growth of the sector, the value of its resources/consultants has also increased multifold. As a result, they are one of the most valuable assets in the consulting industry and contribute significantly to organizational success.
As most of the consultants work on an hourly basis, their overall billable time becomes very expensive for the clients. So firms must use them efficiently. However, most firms fall short when it comes to effective resource scheduling. They rely on spreadsheets or homegrown solutions and tools for scheduling resources. These solutions cannot prevent the idle time of these external resources and unnecessarily increase the cost.
This blog discusses how consultancy firms can benefit from a robust resource scheduling solution.
But before digging deep into it, let’s understand everything about consulting firms and what they do.
What are consultancy firms?
Consulting firms are business entities that offer professional advice, ideas, and solutions to companies undergoing crises that their in-house resources cannot solve. Consultancy firms offer specialized knowledge and expertise to help clients solve complex problems, achieve specific goals, and make informed decisions.
In simple words, when a company requires expert advice and guidance to address an immediate problem, it contacts a relevant consulting firm to provide a quick solution. These firms play a crucial role in providing strategic direction to businesses across various departments, such as manufacturing, sales, marketing, or human resources.
Consulting firms provide industry-specific personnel or subject-matter experts, known as consultants, to analyze a specific problem at hand and find multiple options to provide a solution. The following are some of the ways how consultants can help a business:
- Construct business models.
- Assist with problem-solving.
- Provide cost-effective solutions.
- Predict risk and innovate products
- Strengthen talent management processes.
Types of consultancy firms and what they do
Consulting firms are present in more or less every industry. Here are a few examples:
IT consultancy firms
IT Consulting companies help clients’ businesses design and implement information technology (IT) systems and infrastructure. The objective of seeking IT consulting services is to provide guidance in simplifying various business and technology functions by introducing robust software and solutions.
Audit and accounting consultancy firms
Audit and accounting consultancy firms help organize and manage the company’s cash flow to avoid issuing money into unfavorable ventures. They also conduct annual audits to investigate all financial aspects of a company’s business. Also, these firms advise on tax obligations, the implications of new tax legislation, and tax mitigation strategies.
Engineering consultancy firms
Engineering consultancy firms provide engineering services and expertise to companies in need of a specialized skill set. Generally, they have experienced engineers to provide short-term technical advice for a fee. These firms have expertise across many sectors, including civil engineering, rail, telecommunications, energy, automotive, space, and defense.
Read More: What Is Engineering Resource Planning?
Construction consultancy firms
Construction firms help companies construct a wide variety of buildings, developments, housing, path, pavement, roads, motorways, and other types of construction projects. They offer extensive analysis of the environmental factors to ensure that the structure is durable, sustainable, and functional.
A few experienced lawyers come together and form a law firm to engage in law practice. Law firm consultants advise clients about their legal rights and responsibilities. These consultants even represent clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other matters in which legal advice is sought.
Now that we know the different consultancy types and functions let’s understand how resource scheduling is necessary for consultancy firms.
How is resource scheduling different for consultancy firms?
Resource scheduling for consultancy firms is different from other industries because of their unique business model. Most consultancy projects are of short duration, and clients are billed on an hourly basis. Thus, managers need to keep track of every resource and where they are spending their time. Otherwise, it will result in poor resource utilization.
For example, let’s assume a client hired a lawyer for a specific purpose. As per the agreement, the lawyer would work for 3 hours on the project. Now another client booked the same lawyer for a much larger project with a demand of 6 hours per day.
Now, the lawyer hired for the two projects spends much of his/her time on the larger project and does not provide attention to the smaller project.
Subsequently, it results in low productivity, poor quality of deliverables, and client dissatisfaction, leading to revenue loss and reputation. Therefore, resource managers need to consider consultants’ availability and capacity before booking them for assignments.
A resource scheduling software enables you to track resource utilization and optimize resource schedules as per requirement. It helps to ensure that resources are scheduled to be billable to maximize revenue. It also lets you see all the consultants with clear visibility of their skills, location, availability, cost, and other relevant information for competent resource allocation.
Significance of resource scheduling for consultancy firms
Consulting firms cater to multiple clients at once. Therefore, they need to have transparency on their resource profiles, project demands, and more. This is why resource scheduling is critical.
A resource scheduling tool provides data-driven foresight into various resource metrics like resource availability, capacity vs. demand gap, utilization, and more. Based on this, managers can implement the proper resourcing measures and eliminate potential project challenges. It ensures that the right resources are available at the right time and for the right projects, enabling firms to deliver high-quality services while maximizing profitability.
Besides, it shaves off large amounts of time wasted collecting, analyzing, and presenting the data. It reduces the stress that managers experience in dealing with large amounts of information that can often become confusing. It also improves the overall communication of the company’s consulting staff by presenting resource plans and data in a way that is simple yet powerful to understand.
Benefits of resource scheduling software for consultancy firms
Here is a rundown of the top benefits of a resource scheduling tool for a consultancy firm:
Gain complete visibility across the organization
As mentioned before, a consultancy firm may have competencies spanning numerous countries. Based on that, resources can have multiple reporting lines. For multidimensional scheduling capabilities, firms need overall visibility across the enterprise.
Resource scheduling tool integrates all resource-related information on a centralized system. It keeps one informed of all allocations and availabilities and manages the whole process effortlessly. Also, it captures the updates when employees take a vacation, family leaves, or public holidays.
Moreover, 360-degree visibility helps to identify and leverage cost-effective global resources across boundaries. You can access every data, be it project-related or non-project-related.
Deploy the right resources to the right tasks
As every resource data is available on a single platform, one can assign competent resources to practical tasks. You can find the right resource using advanced filters such as skills, qualifications, experience, location, availability, cost rate, and so on.
Moreover, it maintains real-time competency information to match skill set proficiency with the right task. Employees can even update their competencies themselves, and supervisors can validate the authenticity of the same.
You can distribute resources based on the requirement of the projects. Resource scheduling and allocation software enables you to replace high-cost local resources with low-cost global resources. That way, you can facilitate the best resource allocation for maximum profitability.
Maximize billable and strategic utilization
Consultants charge their rates on an hourly basis. Thus, billable utilization is a critical KPI for a consultancy firm to ensure profitability and sustainability.
A resource scheduler can help track resource utilization. Managers can get a comprehensive view of the actual number of hours logged in by the employees against the planned ones. If there is an anomaly, they can take remedial measures to control the situation.
Furthermore, it can forecast billable and strategic utilization of the workforce ahead of time. You can also compare the actual utilization rates against forecasted ones and take remedial actions, such as mobilizing resources from non-billable to billable work.
Moreover, resources can view their utilization and increase their productivity accordingly. The resource heatmaps provide them with a glimpse of their usage. Also, stakeholders can view utilization rates and make data-driven decisions to improve the organization’s health index.
Deliver projects within the deadline
Assigning the right person with the right skills is crucial for a project to finish within the budgeted time without disrupting the quality. A resource scheduler lets you foresee the project demand. So, with enterprise-wide visibility, you have the chance to allocate a competent resource at the right time, ensuring timely delivery.
A resource booking software negates the chances of allocating under or overqualified resources on tasks. Underqualified resources feel frustrated and often delay delivery timelines. On the other hand, overqualified resources experience boredom and feel deprived. In both cases, employee engagement and, subsequently, productivity are adversely affected, resulting in project overruns.
The centralized solution enables managers to consider the employee’s skills and interests before task allocation. Consequently, it maximizes the chances of successful delivery within the duration.
Optimize resources through leveling and smoothing
In a consultancy firm, you are unlikely to have resources all the time. But it would help if you made adjustments to cater to the numerous client demands. The client requirements also can change suddenly.
A resource allocation software can help you optimize resource schedules based on your needs. For instance, when a project has a specific deadline, you can exercise resource smoothing. By assessing the resources’ workload, you will be able to know if they are overutilized. This way, you can redistribute their workload or pull in additional resources to balance it out.
Otherwise, if the project deadlines are flexible, you have the liberty to move around the timeline to match the resource schedule. That way, you can level the work as per the resources’ schedules and guarantee optimal utilization.
Minimize project costs with real-time reports
A dynamic resource scheduling software can track critical financial indicators for a project, like resourcing cost, revenue, profit margins, and overheads. You can take control of project costs ahead of time with forecasted cost reports, forecast vs. actual utilization reports, and so on. Also, you can assess current financial conditions and take corrective actions.
By implementing a resource scheduling solution, managers can drastically reduce project costs. Here’s how:
- Eliminate under/over-skilled resources on projects and reduce excess cost.
- Utilize cost-effective global resources without compromising quality.
- Reduce unplanned attrition with corrective schedules.
- Improve productivity by multi-skill building through a job rotation strategy
- Minimize last-minute hiring costs with visibility into pipeline project demands
Frequent hiring/firing creates a negative image for the organization. It takes up a lot of money and also affects the existing employees’ morale. Forecasting enables proactive smoothening of project workload and reskilling employees. That way, you are saved from making last-minute hiring/firing decisions.
Best practices for effective resource scheduling in consultancy firms
The advantages of proper resource scheduling are too many to be overlooked by competitive consultancy firms. To reap these benefits, companies should strive to follow and implement the proven best practices mentioned below. Let’s take a look:
Conducting a thorough analysis of current resource management strategies
Before implementing a resource scheduling solution, it is crucial for consultancy firms to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their current resource management practices. This will help them identify existing inefficiencies, gaps, and pain points in their resource allocation process. By analyzing the current workflow, firms can better understand their specific needs and requirements, enabling them to select the most suitable resource scheduling solution.
For example, a consultancy firm may discover that they lack visibility into resource availability, resulting in frequent scheduling conflicts such as double bookings. Therefore, the firm can prioritize finding a resource scheduler that provides real-time visibility into resource calendars, allowing them to make informed scheduling decisions. It will also enable managers to make changes to resource schedules in real-time to align with the changing project requirements and organizational priorities.
Define roles and standardize processes
Successful implementation of a resource scheduling solution requires clear and well-defined roles and processes within the consultancy firm. This involves establishing a clear hierarchy of decision-making authority and assigning specific roles related to resource management. Moreover, it also involves standardizing internal procedures such as resource requesting, conflict resolution, schedule changes, etc.
For instance, the consultancy firm designates a resource manager who is responsible for overseeing the scheduling and allocation process of a specific department. Besides that, the organization also clearly defines the responsibilities of individual consultants within the same department. By doing so, the firm can streamline the scheduling procedure, ensure accountability, and prevent internal conflicts.
Provide training for quick adoption
Providing comprehensive training and ongoing support to the staff is crucial to ensure the successful adoption of resource scheduling software. Training sessions should be conducted to familiarize employees with the new system, including how to input data, navigate the interface, and make scheduling decisions based on the system’s capabilities.
Consultancy firms can conduct workshops, webinars, and hands-on demonstrations to train employees and help them understand the full functionalities and benefits of the resource scheduling solution. Furthermore, regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help address any challenges or questions that arise during the adoption phase. This ongoing support ensures that employees feel supported and confident in utilizing the resource scheduling software.
Regularly monitor and improve resource scheduling strategies
Consultancy firms must foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement to enhance their resource scheduling strategies. They should monitor and track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to critical attributes such as resource utilization, project completion rates, client satisfaction, etc.
Moreover, by tracking these metrics, consultancy organizations can gain insights into the effectiveness of the scheduling solution and identify areas for improvemens. This will enable them to proactively identify and mitigate resource bottlenecks, facilitate competent allocation, and enhance resource efficiency.
By following these best practices, consultancy firms can maximize the benefits of resource scheduling solutions and achieve efficient resource management.
Resource scheduling software can enhance the productivity of the consultancy firm’s resources through effective allocation. It helps improve billable and effective resource utilization for the profitability and sustainability of these firms. Moreover, it helps in the successful delivery of projects, thereby enhancing client satisfaction and market reputation.
SAVIOM has over 20 years of experience helping multinational clients manage their resources efficiently and effectively. With over 20 years of experience, this Australian-based MNC has a global presence across 50 countries and has helped 100+ clients meet their specific business goals. Saviom also provides tools for project portfolio management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software. So, SAVIOM can help your business to establish an efficient system geared towards your specific business challenges.