What Professional Service Firms Can Learn from Baseball About Improving Utilization

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This winter season, in the Southeast, we received a touch of spring after the polar vortex swept through. It was in the mid-70s, and I was filled with excitement about spring, and baseball, of course. With spring training around the corner, I started thinking, how can professional services firms become like a winning baseball team?

If you’ve read the book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis, or seen the movie based on the same, you know that top performers keep an eye on the numbers that matter. In Moneyball, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane turns his recruiting focus on analytical, evidence-based, sabermetrics instead of statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting averages. Despite having a very limited budget, Billy compiles a winning team.

What does baseball have to do with Professional Services?

You have a winning team with the right employees in place, but you need to ensure that you have the right people on the bench when the work comes in. An integrated CRM system provides visibility into the sales pipeline so that you are ready with the right people in place to execute on projects when the deals close. This information will also allow you to cross-train resources to support the types of projects you are selling the most of. When Freddy Freeman on the Atlanta Braves comes up to bat, the opposing team has practiced the infield and outfield shift because they know he never hits the ball in left field. Likewise, your employees need to have the necessary skillset to launch as soon as the project hits the queue.

Improving Utilization

With improved insight and forecasting ability, your project and resource managers will be more effective in scheduling resources when and where they will be best utilized. Improved utilization enables you to drive better quality, increase customer satisfaction and do less unbillable rework. Better yet, an automated professional services automation (PSA) system allows your employees to proactively schedule their time instead of waiting on the scheduling manager to contact them. If they have bench time, they can pick up more billable work from the automated system and book their time several weeks in advance. PSA also allows you to find the correct person within your organization to fulfill project requirements or help with recruiting and training if you need to hire new employees. After all, you wouldn’t use a pitcher for the job of a short stop…it requires an entirely different skillset.

The Importance of Cloud

Running a professional services organization (PSO) is complex. It’s been said that it’s a game that must be won with singles and doubles, not home runs. Project based business live and die based on resource utilization, change orders and write-offs. Sound familiar? You need an integrated system that gives you more visibility into projects and helps to manage inherent risk within your complex projects. Companies that need more visibility into their existing and future projects find cloud-based infrastructure and applications easier and less costly to scale than on-premise systems.

A recent blog article from Microsoft identifies 5 top advantages of sourcing IT services in the cloud:

  1. Lower capital expenditure
  2. Easier maintenance and upgrades
  3. Greater flexibility and mobility – anytime, anywhere access
  4. Continuity of business – lower risk
  5. Improved IT security

According to a Microsoft small and medium sized business (SMB) study, 78 percent of small businesses will adopt cloud computing by 2020. There are many technologies designed to help project-based businesses operate more efficiently and profitably including AXIO Professional Services for Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, and Progressus for Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Another solution from Microsoft, Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation (PSA), is available to project-oriented companies who wish to dive into the Dynamics 365 platform. Instead of an ERP-based project management solution, Dynamics 365 PSA is based upon Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM).

For more information about these three solutions, check out our recent blog where we break them down for you.

To learn more about Velosio’s solutions for project-based companies, download our whitepaper, Improve Utilization by Connecting People, Processes and Technology.

By Velosio, www.velosio.com

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