Lorna knew she had a major issue within her firm. The COVID-19 lockdown had escalated a challenge she had been aware of but kept putting off for another day. That day had come and sooner than she expected. With the office closed and everyone working remotely, things were starting to go wrong.
Five years ago, she left her Consulting Director role in a software VAR to establish her firm, LoSoft. Within a few months, she had a small team working for her out of an office close to her home. Fast forward to today and the firm now has forty employees based across three Mid-West offices.
At the start of the pandemic her firm was doing well and poised for further national expansion. The pandemic had initially brought new opportunities and more business, but soon challenges began to surface around resource management. Lorna had received several emails regarding escalations from clients who demanded a specific consultant return to their project. She had just finished a call with Louise, her friend, first employee, and probably best consultant, who no longer felt challenged in the assignments she was given. The undertone of the conversation was that she was looking to leave unless something changed.
Everything had worked so smoothly when the company had just one office. Three project managers sat in the same room and had coordinated efficiently around resourcing their projects. Between them, they knew all the consultants. If a client requested someone specific, the project manager could alert their colleagues and check with the consultant about the upcoming work.
Lorna knew there were problems with how the “system” worked. For example, when Charles, one of her project managers, was unaware that Sally could not take on a new project out of state because of a recent change in her childcare arrangements, Lorna knew something needed to happen.
As usual, when Lorna needed to think, she took her dog, Amber, out into the forest for a long walk. She thought about the problems that were now surfacing in her organization. The project managers seemed disconnected from each other and were building silos using their favorite consultants.
Lorna realized that without the ability to collaborate, they simply focused on meeting their own objectives rather than the corporate ones. In doing so, they concentrated on getting the best people for their projects. They were also working with spreadsheets that Lorna herself had created to track consultant skills in her teams. As each consultant allocated resources, there was no way to share that information across the organization. Furthermore, there was a disconnect between sales and operations. Important information was not always passed across, as highlighted by the client complaints.
Remote working had highlighted flaws in the organizational processes. Part of the problem was that while the organization had grown, the systems had not scaled to meet new demands. The spreadsheets had been enhanced over time with complex formulas and macros, but it was time to rethink the approach. Whatever she decided, information and data needed to flow across the whole organization seamlessly. The pandemic had also highlighted that the culture, one she had been very proud of, needed to evolve as well. Without a strong culture, it became harder to retain and recruit staff.
Finally, Louise realized that while she had good people in LoSoft, she wasn’t sure they were in the right roles. She remembered attending an event where the speaker was talking about a resource management office (RMO). Louise was familiar with the term Project Management Office, but not RMO. Perhaps she should learn more and set one up.
Lorna was sure there was a solution, and she decided to research the topic. She found a few whitepapers about the challenges of resource management. After reading about the subject from sources such as the Resource Management Institute, she made an action plan.
She called Louise and said, “I have a new challenge for you as head of a new Resource Management Office.” Louise already knew the project managers, consultants, sales teams, and HR. She also had the ability to do well in her new role.
Lorna had immediately fixed one small problem, but she knew she needed to do a lot more. Over the next few weeks, she investigated the available professional services technology. Lorna believed that whatever solution she chose needed to have very strong resource management functionality. It would also need to support project management, project accounting, and collaboration, as well as provide her with the business intelligence she would require as LoSoft.
She focused on resource management as it would enable her to increase customer satisfaction by providing successful projects. Louise supported her view and was already relishing her new role and wanted a solution that would optimise resource management dynamically for LoSoft. Lorna selected the one that best suited her requirements and began the implementation process. It was not just a technology change though, as Louise constantly informed her. The LoSoft business processes were also reviewed and updated.
In a few months, Lorna was sitting, drinking a coffee with Louise, her new VP of Resource Management. Louise enthusiastically talked about how much smoother forecasting resources was and that she was working with HR to hire for upcoming projects. Lorna was happy. The clients were happier and her employees were happier. Her KPIs reflected the change, the net promoter score had increased, employee retention was up, and the numbers looked above the best expectations.
People are at the heart of every professional services organization. As Lorna found, it takes more than people to grow a successful professional services organization. Here is what she learned:
- When the time is right, build a resource management function
- Ensure that business processes are suitable for the size of your organization
- Implement the best technology to support your business growth
- Ensure that data is available across the organization for every customer-facing activity
- Develop a culture of trust and transparency
To find out more about these five components, download this white paper (Registration required) that delves deeper into these themes.
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. The format of this piece was inspired by reading a book by Patrick Lencione.
To find out more about applying modern resource management within your organisation. Mavenlink commissioned a whitepaper written by Enterprise Times entitled “5 pillars of great resource management“, download here (registration required).
The Mavenlink Industry Cloud for Professional Services™ delivers transformative value by putting resource optimization at the core. It provides integrated project management, collaboration and accounting, enables complete visibility, and scales across hundreds of teams and thousands of projects enabling professional services organizations to operate with unlimited scale, drive predictable outcomes, and realize full margins.