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Author: Mahendra Gupta

Mahendra Gupta is a PMP-certified professional with over 18 years of experience in smart workforce planning and resource management domain. He leads Saviom Software’s technical research and development wing. His expertise has helped multinational businesses around the globe diversify their project portfolio.

7 Effective Strategies to Reduce Attrition in Professional Services Organizations

“According to LinkedIn, the professional services sector has the highest attrition rate among all industries.”

In recent years, the professional services industry has seen a significant rise in employee attrition rates. This is due to several factors, such as sub-optimal utilization, high levels of stress and burnout, lack of proper compensation, poor career growth opportunities, and more.

Failure to address these issues can hinder the PSO’s ability to deliver projects on time and meet client expectations, thereby negatively impacting the firm’s top and bottom lines.

Therefore, it is the need of the hour for professional services firms to create a well-defined retention strategy that will help them maintain a robust talent pool.

This article elucidates the best techniques to reduce PSO attrition and how an efficient ERM tool like SAVIOM can help combat it.

Let’s begin!

 

Consequences of attrition in professional services firms

Employee attrition refers to the exit of resources from the organization for various reasons, such as resignations, retirements, transfers, etc. Frequent resource exits from a PSO can deplete the internal talent pool and have severe consequences on operational workflow.

When experienced consultants leave the PSO suddenly, it results in a loss of institutional knowledge. This also leads to increased training costs and project delays as new substitutes need time to gain proficiency in their roles.

In addition, unplanned attrition leads to last-minute firefighting of resources. It usually results in high-cost recruitments or the selection of inadequately skilled personnel, leading to budget/schedule overruns and substandard quality of deliverables.

Moreover, it adversely affects the team dynamics. The sudden departure of consultants can increase the workload of existing resources, hampering their productivity and leading to high burnout.

Knowing the repercussions of attrition, let’s learn the best methods to overcome them.

 

7 effective strategies to manage attrition in professional service firms

Professional services organizations need to take the following measures to minimize unplanned attrition:

1. Create a robust onboarding strategy for new hires

According to Glassdoor, organizations with effective employee onboarding can increase retention by 82%.

Robust onboarding processes can help new joiners in PSOs acclimatize to team dynamics, roles & responsibilities, and company culture. Therefore, managers must take them through the organizational structure and introduce them to team members. Moreover, the firms can assign mentors who can offer continuous support and guidance to the new hires throughout their journey.

In addition, PSOS can provide induction training to familiarize them with standard operating procedures and performance metrics. Besides, they can offer on-the-job learning opportunities where new employees can shadow their seniors to understand their roles better. This will help them build the necessary skills and knowledge, boost engagement, and lower the churn rate.

 

2. Assign professionals to suitable projects based on skills & interest

It is important to align the resources’ skills with suitable work as it increases productivity and engagement. Therefore, before assigning consultants to projects, managers must gain comprehensive visibility of their attributes, such as skills, qualifications, availability, experience, etc.

Moreover, managers must also consider the consultants’ interests when assigning them to projects. It improves their motivation and overall job satisfaction, making them less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Thus, competent allocation can minimize the risk of disengagement, burnout, and turnover significantly.

 

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3. Offer compensation packages as per market standards

“According to a Qualtrics survey, employees who are satisfied with their pay and benefits are 13% more likely to continue working for their current employer.”

Compensation is one of the most influential factors that shape the consultants’ decision to remain with the existing firm or seek new opportunities. Moreover, adequate compensation establishes a compelling proposition for consultants to be more productive and efficient.

Consequently, PSOs must offer competitive remuneration packages aligned with market standards to retain top-tier talent. In addition, they must consider providing performance-based variable pay and benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, incentives, etc. Incentivizing employees signals the company’s appreciation for their contributions, fostering prolonged tenure.

 

4. Provide stretch assignments to junior consultants periodically

Stretch assignments are a common practice in the professional services industry. These assignments are designed to test and upskill the capabilities of the consultants. Therefore, allocating junior and intermediate associates to such exercises helps them prepare for new challenges and grow professionally.

For example, a financial firm can assign junior auditors to specialized assignments focused on data analytics. This initiative enhances the auditors’ proficiency in this field and helps them streamline financial analysis processes. Thus, stretch assignments accelerate employees’ career trajectories, keep them engaged, and curb attrition.

 

5. Leverage senior consultants for strategic and leadership roles

Senior consultants often experience job monotony over time, which can lead to disengagement and, eventually, unplanned attrition. Therefore, managers must deploy them to strategic or leadership roles beyond their day-to-day activities that help them showcase their learnings and contribute to bigger organizational goals. For instance, an IT firm focuses on upskilling its team with emerging technologies like Generative AI and Datafication.

For this, the firm can assign senior consultants to conduct training sessions, mentoring programs, and workshops. Moreover, they can identify senior consultants who can utilize their skills and expertise to drive strategic initiatives such as building a robust talent pipeline. As a result, it improves their engagement and curbs attrition.

 

6. Formulate individual development plans for each employee

One of the primary reasons for high attrition rates in PSOs is the lack of career development opportunities. Therefore, to retain top talent, managers can create IDPs (Individual development plans) to help consultants pursue their career aspirations and enhance their professional attributes.

For example, in an IT consultancy firm, a software developer wants to improve proficiency in Django. So, managers can enroll them in an online course or facilitate in-house training sessions by experienced developers. This personalized training module increases engagement and lowers their likelihood of leaving the organization.

 

7. Develop a 360-degree holistic feedback system

Implementing an efficient feedback mechanism helps PSOs analyze each consultant’s performance and identify areas of improvement. It also allows resources to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it serves as an opportunity for managers to show appreciation for consultants’ hard work.

A holistic system provides a two-way communication channel that helps PSOs eliminate workplace bias and quickly resolve internal conflicts based on employee feedback. This enhances transparency and fosters mutual trust between employers and employees. As a result, it enhances consultants’ work performance and job satisfaction, reducing the chances of unplanned attrition.

Next, let’s explore how resource management software can help.

 

How does advanced ERM help professional services firms reduce attrition?

Adopting futuristic resource management software like Saviom can empower service firms to devise a well-structured retention strategy to retain top talent.

  • The 360-degree visibility into consultants’ attributes enables competent allocation. When employees leverage their skills, it enhances their performance and motivation, thereby reducing attrition.
  • Forecasting and capacity planning features enable managers to forward plan future resource requirements and prevent excesses/shortages of consultants.
  • The competency matrix allows supervisors to identify professionals to be considered for stretch assignments and helps facilitate training programs.
  • Real-time BI reports like utilization, forecast vs. actual, etc., enable identifying and rectifying over/underutilization, lowering burnout and unplanned attrition.
  • The open seat feature helps consultants to apply for project vacancies. When they work on projects of their interest, it improves their engagement and minimizes turnover.

 

Wrapping up

Skilled consultants are the backbone of every PSO. Consequently, it is imperative for firms to cultivate a positive work environment that enhances job satisfaction and contributes to the retention of skilled professionals. By integrating the aforementioned best practices with ERM software, PSOs can effectively manage unplanned attrition and ensure sustained profitability.

7 Best Practices to Implement Resource Planning in the Audit and Accounting Industry

A Statista survey reveals that the estimated revenue of the accounting industry will grow to $145 billion.

The growth in the audit and accounting industry can be attributed to various factors, including increased demand for advisory services, the growing complexity of tax regulations, a rise in financial fraud, and ongoing technological advancements. As a result, there’s an increasing necessity for audit and accounting services as companies worldwide aim to safeguard their profit margins and retain a competitive edge.

Nevertheless, these firms encounter several workforce-related challenges, such as a scarcity of skilled consultants, suboptimal resource utilization, burnout, etc. Hence, it becomes crucial for the audit and accounting industry to adopt an efficient resource planning process to optimize their workforce and increase profitability.

 

This blog encompasses the key resource planning strategies for audit and accounting firms and how SAVIOM can help.

Let’s begin.

 

Benefits of resource planning in the audit & accounting industry

Resources are the backbone of audit and accounting firms as they generate revenue by billing their clients for the consultant’s time and expertise. Thus, these firms need effective resource planning to maximize the billable utilization of their employees and increase ROI.

Since this industry experiences seasonal fluctuations, resource planning enables firms to meet the capacity vs. demand gap and fulfill all the project requirements. This approach also bridges the skill gaps, ensuring consultants are available before project onset, thus reducing last-minute firefighting.

Further, it helps these firms identify and assign the right consultants to the right tasks at the right time and cost and deliver top-notch projects. In addition, it also enables firms to remain competitive in a swiftly evolving market and adapt to new challenges.

Now that you understand the importance of resource planning, let’s dive into the essential techniques to implement it.

Here are the seven best ways to create an efficient resource plan in audit and accounting firms:

 

1. Foresee and bridge demand gaps of auditors & accountants

One of the crucial steps of resource planning is where managers forecast the capacity vs. demand gap of consultants for pipeline audit/accounting projects. It will help them analyze the resource requirements ahead of time and take proactive measures to bridge the gaps. For instance, a pipeline project needs four auditors to complete the work successfully.

If the organization has two auditors, it indicates a shortage of two resources. To bridge this gap, managers can implement training programs for junior auditors, utilize out rotation and backfill strategy, or go for planned hiring. Conversely, if they had six auditors, managers could bring forward the project timelines or sell the extra capacity. This will help eliminate the last-minute hiring of resources.

 

2. Allocate competent accounting personnel to projects

The audit firms often utilize niche-skilled employees like forensic accountants, IT consultants, budget analysts, etc., to deliver projects. Since these resources are expensive to procure, managers must ensure they are judiciously allocated to projects based on their skills, availability, etc., to enhance their billable utilization.

Moreover, managers can assign skilled global accounting personnel from low-cost locations per the project requirements. For example, managers can allocate a skilled junior counterpart instead of assigning a senior auditor to audit financial reports. This will help minimize resourcing costs significantly and successfully deliver projects.

 

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3. Build the right mix of contingent and permanent consultants

In the audit and accounting industry, the demand for consultants witnesses a surge during the financial year-end. Therefore, it is imperative to have a blend of on-demand and permanent workforce to fulfill the project demands.

For instance, an audit firm requires a senior tax analyst to prepare and submit the tax filings for a short-term project. Since the existing resources are engaged with tasks, the firm can assign a contingent employee to complete the project on time. Conversely, they can deploy a permanent tax analyst for a long-term project. This will prevent last-minute firefighting for resources, and firms can effectively meet the deadlines.

 

4. Establish & monitor utilization targets of professionals

Most audit and accounting firms leverage internal and external professionals to meet client requirements. Therefore, establishing and monitoring the targets will ensure the blended workforce is utilized to the maximum potential. This will help them prevent operational inefficiencies and increase billable utilization.

For instance, on-demand auditors are hired hourly for short-term projects. Therefore, their billable utilization target can be set to 100%. Meanwhile, the target for permanent auditors can be set between 80-85% to balance their time spent on billable and non-billable tasks. This way, audit firms can optimize the productive utilization of their workforce and ensure seamless project execution.

5. Allow audit & accounting staff to choose projects of their interest

As the audit and accounting personnel spend most of their time working on similar projects, they experience monotony, which leads to disengagement and lowered productivity. To avoid this, managers must allow employees to choose projects of their interest by publishing open positions.

This will enable interested professionals to apply for suitable vacancies, and accordingly, managers can choose the best-fit consultants for the projects. When consultants work on assignments of their interest, it will increase their motivation and performance and improve their career trajectory.

 

6. Create training and development programs as appropriate

According to a survey, 80% of finance and accounting workers say it’s vital for a company to offer training programs to keep them upskilled for the future. 

Training and development programs are crucial in the audit and accounting industry as they help consultants build in-demand skills. For this, managers can formulate various upskilling programs, individual development plans (IDPs), etc.

Further, they can facilitate development initiatives like blended learning, shadowing opportunities, on-the-job training, etc. This will enable the professionals to take up multi-faceted projects, bridge existing skill gaps, and diversify their career portfolios.

 

7. Implement succession planning for critical roles

When consultants in critical positions retire or suddenly exit the firm, it can derail the projects, leading to client dissatisfaction. To avoid this situation, firms can implement succession planning.

For this, managers must regularly monitor professionals’ performance and determine who is eligible for the critical positions. Then, they must provide appropriate training to these resources so that they can take up strategic and leadership roles. This will enhance the consultants’ engagement and ensure project continuity.

Now that we know the steps, let’s understand how ERM software can help.

 

How does advanced ERM software help in effective resource planning?

Implementing Saviom’s ERM tool can enable audit and accounting firms to plan their consultants efficiently. The tool offers:

  • 360-degree visibility and advanced filters enable managers to identify and assign consultants based on their skills, competencies, location, etc.
  • Forecasting and capacity planning enable managers to foresee pipeline project demand and identify the shortage/excess of resources. Then, managers can take corrective measures like training, hiring, etc., to bridge the gaps.
  • BI reports like forecast vs. actual, and utilization helps implement remedial measures to eliminate under/over utilization. Besides, it helps mobilize accountants from non-billable to billable or strategic tasks.
  • What-if-analysis enables managers to create and compare various project scenarios and determine the best-fit resource plan.
  • With the open seat feature, managers can publish open positions, and professionals can choose projects of their interest, thus improving engagement.

 

Final thoughts

Resource planning is essential for audit and accounting firms to maximize workforce efficiency and improve project quality. By implementing the above strategies and a futuristic resource management solution, these firms can optimally utilize the professionals and maintain profitability.

5 Powerful Benefits of Capacity Planning in Professional Services Organizations

Finding it difficult to mitigate skill shortages in your professional service firms?

Are you constantly struggling with frequent hiring/firing cycles?

Is a pertinent mismatch of skills affecting most of your projects?

 

If yes, then it’s high time for your organization to create an efficient resource capacity planning framework. It is key to bridging these skill gaps proactively and ensuring the availability of best-fit consultants for the right projects at the right time. This also enables managers to utilize the professionals effectively and ensure successful project delivery.

This informative article explains how SAVIOM’s ERM tool helps in effective capacity planning in professional service organizations.

But first, let’s understand the consequences of poor capacity planning.

 

Consequences of poor capacity planning in Professional Service Firms

When professional service firms lack visibility into skill requirements for pipeline projects, they find it difficult to initiate proper resource procurement measures to meet the demands. As a result, it leads to last-minute firefighting and costly recruitment practices, impacting the firm’s financial performance.

Moreover, ineffective capacity planning can lead to the under/over-allocation of consultants to projects. This can result in poor deliverable quality, cause cost/schedule overruns, and affect customer retention.

Furthermore, when managers lack foresight into future skill needs and are unable to estimate the number of resources needed, it leads to unnecessary hiring. However, once the assignment is complete, these excess resources are no longer required, forcing PSOs to terminate them. It gives rise to frequent hiring/firing cycles, hampering the company’s reputation.

The lack of real-time visibility into the workforce’s schedules prevents managers from anticipating the release of resources from ongoing projects, leading to an increase in the bench size. Consequently, when these benched employees cannot be efficiently engaged, it triggers disengagement and unplanned attrition.

Given the adverse consequences of inadequate planning, the following section delineates effective strategies to proactively address these challenges.

 

How does effective capacity planning benefit professional services firms?

A proper capacity planning process is significant for service-based firms in multiple ways.

 

Let’s see how:

1. Provides foresight into pipeline consultancy projects

When consulting managers are unable to assess skill demands in advance, they resort to reactive resourcing measures. This results in an excess or shortage of consultants in the PSO. An effective capacity planning process helps managers gain foresight into the pipeline project demands and determine the skill gaps ahead of time.

They can then take appropriate decisions to bridge the gap. If there is a consultant shortage, managers can implement an out rotation and backfill strategy or initiate training programs. Further, they can go for planned hiring and create the right blend of permanent/contingent workforce. Contrarily, to address resource excess, they can bring forward project timelines, redistribute the extra capacity among other projects, or sell them at discounted charge-out rates.

 

2. Enhances billable utilization of consultants

PSOs frequently struggle to achieve optimal utilization rates for every professional, decreasing overall efficiency. When consultants are underutilized, it negatively impacts their motivation and commitment, consequently affecting their productivity. Conversely, overutilization leads to burnout and stress, compromising the service quality.

Efficient capacity planning enables managers to anticipate and manage consultants’ utilization. This allows them to implement various strategies, such as resource smoothing and leveling to ensure uniform workload distribution. Moreover, managers can mobilize the consultants from non-billable to revenue-generating work, enhancing their billability. It helps improve the overall productivity of consultants, resulting in increased profitability.

 

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3. Facilitates diversification of consultants’ skills

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, PSOs heavily rely on their workforce’s expertise for continued success and expansion. Thus, maintaining a proficient and skilled pool of consultants is crucial. Moreover, fostering new skill sets becomes imperative when a company aims to explore new business domains to drive revenue growth.

A proper capacity planning framework provides detailed insights into the skill sets necessary for new service areas or projects. This enables managers to identify existing skill gaps and implement upskilling/training programs as per requirement. In addition, they can also initiate on-the-job training and shadowing opportunities to help consultants gain hands-on experience. This helps create a talent pool with diversified skills and expertise.

 

4. Helps in effective bench management

In a firm, projects usually experience sudden ramp-down activities once they reach the maintenance/closure stage. The lack of visibility into the resource ramp-down makes it challenging for managers to identify consultants who will land on the bench. As a result, it increases the bench size, which leads to escalated overhead costs and reduced billability.

An effective capacity planning process helps managers identify the resources that will be released in advance and assign them to suitable projects accordingly. In addition, the benched consultants whose skills partially match project vacancies can be given on-the-job training or shadowing opportunities. This way, organizations can effectively maintain the billability of benched resources and reduce the hiring/ firing cycles as well.

 

5. Ensures project delivery within time and budget

Inadequate capacity planning poses challenges for the delivery team in securing appropriately skilled personnel, potentially necessitating last-minute wrongful hiring. This leads to skill mismatches or the onboarding of costly consultants. Consequently, it can compromise the quality of deliverables and cause budget overruns, resulting in client dissatisfaction.

Effective capacity planning empowers the delivery department to evaluate the skills required for project deliverables ahead of time. This helps managers make proactive decisions, such as hiring or implementing training/development programs. Further, they can use the out-rotation and backfill strategy to ensure the availability of niche-skilled resources for the project initiation. This enhances the firm’s ability to deliver projects within designated timelines and budgets, increasing profitability.

Given the benefits of capacity planning, the next section explains how a resource management solution can come in handy.

 

How can modern resource management software help?

Saviom’s advanced resource management tool helps managers create an efficient capacity planning process for professional services firms and reap the benefits.

It facilitates 360-degree visibility of all resources and their attributes, such as skills, experience, capacity, availability, etc. This allows managers to find the best-suited resource with the right skills for the projects.

Further, the tool’s multidimensional forecasting capabilities and capacity-vs-demand report help foresee and fill skill gaps proactively through appropriate internal and external channels. It, thus, reduces the last-minute resourcing hassle.

Moreover, in a resource-constrained environment, managers can leverage modeling and simulation techniques. The what-if analysis functionality helps create and compare various scenarios by changing metrics such as availability, cost rate, etc. Therefore, it allows them to determine and implement the most feasible outcome on the actual plan.

 

Final Thoughts

Capacity planning is pivotal for managing the workforce within professional service firms. It serves the crucial purpose of detecting and reconciling disparities between workforce availability and demand, guaranteeing timely project deliveries within budgetary constraints.

For this, professional services firms can adopt an advanced resource management solution that will help them create a future-ready workforce, thereby ensuring profitability and sustainability.

 

 

6 Effective Ways to Mitigate Resource Risks in Project Management

Do you face challenges securing specialized skills for your projects in advance?

Is your organization experiencing frequent unplanned employee attrition?

Are you finding it hard to identify suitable candidates for critical positions?

If your answer is “yes” to the above questions, it’s high time to develop strategies to mitigate these resource-related risks. If not managed well, these resource risks can lead to project delays, compromised deliverable quality, budget overruns, reduced profitability, etc.

Thus, organizations should anticipate and address them to ensure successful project completion and delivery.

This article elucidates several techniques to prevent resource-related risks and how SAVIOM can help.

 

But first, let’s understand:

  1. Resource-related risks: definition & types

Resource risks are unexpected events that have the potential to adversely affect the project and the business in case of their occurrence. If not managed properly, it will affect the project scope, timeline, and budget, resulting in sudden halts or failure.

Some of them are:

  • Lack of skilled resources

In multifaceted projects, skilled resources are required to fulfill the project demand. However, these resources might sometimes be unavailable due to inaccurate forecasting of project requirements, resulting in last-minute firefighting.

  • Employee burnout

When managers lack visibility into resource schedules and availability, it can cause double bookings and overallocation. This results in stress, burnout, disengagement, and eventually unplanned attrition.

  • Absence of succession planning

When critical resources leave the organization, replacing them becomes difficult. The absence of a backup plan can widen the demand gap and suddenly stall the projects. Further, the unavailability of resources may overburden the existing employees with additional work, impacting the project’s progress.

  • Increase in bench size

Frequently, during projects, when substantial tasks are accomplished, there is a sudden ramp-down of resources, increasing the bench size. Furthermore, last-minute project cancellations due to budget constraints can increase the bench size, resulting in talent and financial loss.

Given the various resource-related risks, the following section elucidates the ways to combat them.

 

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  1. 6 Ways to Mitigate Resource-Related Risks in Project Management

Managers must be prepared with a few proven strategies to reduce resource-related risks, as follows.

2.1. Forsee project demand to identify resource shortage/ excess

When a pipeline project reaches a certain probability of approval, the project manager must estimate the resource requirements and raise the request accordingly. The resource manager can then evaluate the demand and examine the internal pool for availability to identify and mitigate any resource shortfall/excess.

For instance, they can implement upskilling, training, hiring, out-rotation/ backfill strategy, etc., to prevent resource shortage. Conversely, to avoid resource excess, they can bring forward the project timelines or sell the extra capacity. This will reduce unnecessary hiring/firing cycles and ensure the project’s timely initiation.

2.2. Hire the right mix of resources to prevent project delays

Based on the project’s requirements, managers should create a judicious mix of employees for successful project delivery. For instance, an accounting firm requires a data analyst to prepare a financial report. Managers should first leverage internal channels to identify and deploy the employee with analytics skills.

If this skill is unavailable, they can hire contingent employees if the requirement is one-off or short-term. However, they can hire permanent analysts if the demand is recurring or long-term. Thus, maintaining the right resource mix helps organizations fulfill project demand effectively, control overhead costs, and avoid delays.

2.3. Facilitate competent resource allocation to enhance productivity

Allocating less experienced employees to critical projects can lead to stress and burnout. Contrarily, assigning highly skilled resources to low-priority projects can cause disengagement and lower productivity. Therefore, managers should have clear visibility into resource attributes like skills, interests, experience, qualifications, etc., and allocate the best-fit employees to projects.

Deploying the right workforce to suitable projects will help managers maximize employees’ productivity. Further, it will ensure that projects are completed within the estimated timeline, enhancing the firm’s profitability and brand reputation.

2.4. Optimize resource utilization to eliminate employee burnout

Uneven workload distribution can cause resource under/overutilization, leading to low morale, disengagement, stress, burnout, etc. Therefore, managers must assess the availability and capacity of the employees before assigning them to tasks/ projects. Further, managers can track their utilization levels regularly to identify under/overloaded employees.

Accordingly, they can implement optimization techniques like resource leveling/ smoothing to optimize resource schedules. Further, managers can mobilize employees from non-billable to billable tasks periodically to maintain a healthy resource index.

2.5. Facilitate effective bench management & boost billability

An increased bench size can negatively impact the organization’s financial health and lead to revenue loss. Therefore, it is necessary to implement measures to reduce bench size and improve resource billability. For this, managers should foresee the resources being rolled off from projects and find suitable work to redeploy them before they hit the bench.

This ensures continuous billability of the resources and enhances revenue. Further, on-the-job training/shadowing opportunities can be implemented for benched employees with partial skill matches. It will enable them to become versatile and deployable across multifaceted projects, reducing their idle time and increasing productivity.

2.6. Create a backup strategy for succession planning

During the project execution phase, unexpected situations like a critical resource suddenly going on leave or quitting can affect the project delivery. For example, a product development project has reached the validation phase, and the lead analyst unexpectedly takes a long leave. This can potentially lead to a delay or standstill.

To mitigate these unplanned absenteeism or attrition risks, managers must identify potential talent for critical roles. They can then create a succession plan that provides appropriate training/upskilling measures to prepare the employees for key positions. It helps reduce the over-dependence on limited critical resources and boosts the organization’s ability to take up more multifaceted projects, enhancing revenue.

Now that effective ways to mitigate resource-related risks are clear, let’s understand how resource management software can help.

 

  1. How can advanced resource management software help?

Organizations must leverage advanced ERM tools like SAVIOM to manage and reduce resource-related risks effectively.

Here’s how:

  • The tool’s 360-degree visibility of resource attributes like skills, competencies, availability, etc., enables managers to allocate competent employees to projects.
  • The skills matrix allows firms to facilitate training and formulate a backup strategy for critical positions.
  • Forecasting and capacity planning help managers predict the pipeline project demand, identify resourcing gaps, and take remedial measures to bridge them.
  • The utilization reports and color-coded heatmaps enable managers to identify the over/underutilization of resources and take remedial measures to prevent burnout.
  • BI offers people-on-the-bench, and project vacancy reports to help organizations assign benched resources to billable/strategic projects.
  • The simulation technique allows managers to create and compare various scenarios in a resource-constraint environment and determine the best-fit plan.

 

  1. Final thoughts

Companies must manage their resources and effectively alleviate risks to keep projects on track. Implementing the techniques discussed in this article and futuristic resource management software will help organizations mitigate workforce risk, boost profitability, and successfully deliver projects.

How to streamline communication between remote teams?

Mike Krzyzewski, an American basketball coach, rightly says, “Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”

Indeed, effective communication is one of the cornerstones of a company’s success.

Be it for getting an executive buy-in, conveying regular updates to stakeholders, or managing teams, communication plays a critical role in every facet of the business landscape. It helps convey the requisite information at the right time, facilitates the exchange of innovative ideas, strengthens team bonding and collaboration, and improves work efficiency.

However, ensuring effective communication becomes challenging when the team is dispersed across remote locations. When team members are working in varying time zones and locations, it creates silos, and thus, bringing them on the same page becomes cumbersome for a project manager.

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These communication barriers can lead to loss of trust and transparency over time and negatively impact the project’s progress. Therefore, it is vital for a project manager to walk the extra mile and take suitable initiatives to enhance remote team communication.

Enlisted below are a few good strategies that you can follow to achieve the same:

 Tips to foster better communication among remote teams

1. Convey roles and responsibilities clearly

Defining clear roles and responsibilities helps every remote team member understand what is expected of them and align their efforts with the project’s end goals. However, while conveying key responsibility areas (KRAs) in person is easy in a typical in-office work setup, remote work settings make it more arduous. Nevertheless, by using the right tools, the project manager can convey KRAs to remote teammates effectively.

For example, they can use a video conferencing tool for one-on-one meetings or send an email to explain the responsibilities to individuals.  Moreover, an initiation meeting at the start of every project can also help the team members get to know each other better. Additionally, the project manager can elaborate on interdependencies. It will enable the team to comprehend each other’s responsibilities, communicate and collaborate effectively, and synchronize their efforts better to achieve milestones.

  1. Standardize rules for remote communication

As communication is predominantly online, formulating new policies to streamline asynchronous and synchronous means is the need of the hour. Standardized rules help avoid communication gaps or discrepancies and facilitate fast information exchange. To begin with, the project manager can decide on the communication channels to use for various purposes. For instance, synchronous channels such as Zoom, Google Meet, etc., can be suitable for scrum meetings, brainstorming sessions, training, etc.

On the other hand, asynchronous channels like emails, Slack, etc., can be better for instant messaging, casual communication, file sharing, etc. Besides that, setting protocols for away messages, one-on-one meetings with teammates, breaks, etc., can also help save time and regulate communication.

  1. Conduct daily stand-up meetings

As already discussed, teleworking makes communication and coordination an arduous job for a project manager. It also makes it difficult to keep track of the project’s progress. One of the ways to combat this challenge is to organize daily stand-up meetings. Considering everyone’s schedule and availability, managers can fix a time to ensure no one is left out.

Along with updating the progress, team members can mention the roadblocks, if any, and brainstorm on viable solutions. If issues are significant, scheduling separate meetings can be a good option to discuss them. Further, urgent meetings to communicate unprecedented changes or risks can also boost communication and coordination.

  1. Leverage the right tools and technology

Communication is not confined to messages or video calls but goes beyond that. Equipping virtual teams with the right tech inventory is essential for a remote team to enhance it further.  So, besides providing a video conferencing tool or messaging app, a project manager can also leverage various project management, workflow automation, and visual collaboration apps. It not only helps convey and visualize the critical updates in real-time but also centralizes them, thereby minimizing any discrepancies.

A resource management tool can also prove beneficial as it provides enterprise-wide visibility of resources. They can view resources schedules, their utilization, productivity, and even project schedules on one platform. For example, they can see an individual’s forecast-vs-actual time report and note any variance in the time predicted to complete a task and the actual time ten. Further, they can conduct a one-on-one meeting and understand and resolve the cause accordingly.

  1. Organize virtual team-building activities

Virtual team-building sessions play a pivotal role in strengthening communication and collaboration. They replicate those water-cooler conversations and casual cubicle meet-ups in the physical office settings and help get rid of the monotonicity and isolation that set in while working virtually. Further, as different team members participate and interact more, they get to know each other better, which breaks down the silos of communication. All this paves the way for stronger team bonding, transparent communication, and cohesive work.

To make every session more inclusive and productive, the organizer should consider every participant’s preference and customize activities accordingly. This will pique everyone’s interest and elevate engagement.

Conclusion

Effective communication is the bread and butter of remote team management. It facilitates team collaboration, ensures the alignment of efforts with final goals, and eventually boosts productivity.

The aforementioned tips will help you build a powerful communication strategy and build synergy between team members. Since remote work is the new normal, it is high time you took the right measures to improve communication within your dispersed team and seal every project’s success.

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