Skip to main content

Eliminate All Meetings? Not So Fast.

Everyone loves to hate meetings. I’ve seen so many opinion pieces on eliminating meetings, all met with cheers from people who are tired of sitting through meetings they don’t find valuable. I think it’s worth a deeper dive into meeting types so we can be deliberate about which meetings to eliminate.

 

There are three primary categories of meetings:

 

Problem solving – these are your brainstorming or whiteboarding sessions. I think most people agree that these can’t be replaced with emails and Slack messages. When the creative juices need to be flowing and it needs to be collaborative, it needs to be a meeting.

 

Decision making – this is a grey area. If the decision involves a complex scenario or significant consequences, I think it needs to be a meeting since it will likely require discussion. In these cases, my personal approach is to send a pre-read to the decision maker and all key stakeholders, which I develop in partnership with the key stakeholders. My template is this:

 

Background – this explains the broader context of the decision. The decision maker is most likely an executive with many other problems and decisions on their mind, so this helps center them on the situation.

 

Decision point – explain the exact decision needed. Is it strategic direction where multiple approaches have merit? Is it a vendor choice for software that will have a major impact on daily operations? The more specific, the better.

 

Options – Write a summary of each option. Work with the stakeholder(s) who prefers this option and include both the benefits and the drawbacks.

 

Recommendation – Tell the decision maker which option you recommend and why. You know the situation in greater detail than they do, so your recommendation based on detailed consideration is valuable. They may not take your recommendation, but you will have made yourself a resource and thought partner for them.

 

Having this pre-read ensures everyone is on the same page about what the decision point is and what the options are. This will minimize surprises in the meeting, which in turn will minimize unproductive swirl. This preparation will enable the key stakeholders to argue their point, engage in productive debate, and allow the decision maker to hear and consider options before deciding.

 

Advertisement
[widget id=”custom_html-68″]

 

Status – this is the infamous “around the room” where everyone says what they’re working on and everyone else multitasks or dozes off. I believe these are the meetings people are thinking about when they write about how to eliminate meetings. The core of their reasoning is that this information can be shared just as effectively by other means, which is often true. I would break this group into two sub-categories:

 

Type 1: Small projects with a few primary workstreams. In these cases, I agree status information can be shared just as effectively by other means. The team can collaborate in a project management tool such as Asana or Smartsheet so anyone at any time can pop in and see where things are. Simple automations can remind team members to make their updates, and dashboards can be automatically shared. The technology exists to make asynchronous status updates possible. In an ideal world, everyone makes their updates on time, everyone checks in on status, and meetings only happen when the project requires discussion. In reality though, project teams often don’t take advantage of these options, so we find ourselves in meetings that shouldn’t need to happen.

 

Type 2: Major projects with many workstreams. In these cases, there are usually clusters of workstreams where people are working together and depend on each other’s work. There are likely also workstreams that seldom interact but will eventually need to interact. In these cases, I’m a believer in live status meetings. Asynchronous updates can work for more regular updates, but I think there’s value in less frequent live status syncs. This gives everyone the opportunity to learn about what’s going on with the more distant workstreams, allows an opportunity for questions and live discussions, and lets people know in advance how something is progressing that might matter to their workstream.

 

With these meeting categories in mind, how can we avoid unnecessary meetings? Regardless of category, there are some best practices for all meetings. If those can’t be followed for a particular meeting, then that meeting can be cancelled.

  1. Make sure the purpose of the meeting is clear.
  2. Write and share the agenda in advance.
  3. Make sure the right people are in attendance.
  4. Send any relevant information in advance.

If you can’t follow these, for example if your meeting doesn’t have a clear purpose or agenda, then it should be cancelled. To make the most of meetings that do happen, end them with a verbal recap of action items, owners, and timelines, and send a written recap of the same.

 

The highest potential category to eliminate is the recurring status meeting for small or simple projects. Eliminating these without negative impact to the project will require a team effort. Everyone needs to do their part to update and check in on the project tracker. The leader can set conditions for success by ensuring the project tracker is established and expectations are clear. However, if the team doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain then the leader will have no choice but to schedule recurring status syncs. I’ve found that credibility and trust can be established by following standard meeting best practices, and especially by cancelling meetings when there is no clear purpose or agenda.

With this trust, it’s a little easier to convince the team to contribute by making their updates asynchronously. Little by little, we can move toward that ideal world where we’re only in meetings that truly need to be meetings.

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.

 

Advertisement
[widget id=”custom_html-68″]

 

 

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.

Agile Project Management Essentials: Navigating the Basics

In the dynamic landscape of project management, Agile methodologies have emerged as a transformative approach, fostering adaptability and collaboration. Understanding the essentials of Agile Project Management is crucial for navigating the complexities of modern projects. This guide will take you through the basics, providing insights into Agile principles, methodologies, and the key components that make it a powerful framework for project delivery.

 

I. Introduction to Agile Project Management

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile Project Management is an iterative and flexible approach to project execution that prioritizes adaptability, collaboration, and customer satisfaction. It emphasizes incremental progress, allowing teams to respond to changing requirements and deliver value consistently.

Why Choose Agile Project Management?

Agile is chosen for its ability to address the limitations of traditional project management. Its iterative nature accommodates changes, encourages client involvement throughout the process, and promotes a more efficient and responsive project delivery.

 

II. Agile Principles: The Foundation of Flexibility

1. Customer Satisfaction Through Continuous Delivery

Agile places a premium on delivering valuable, working solutions regularly. This ensures continuous feedback from stakeholders and enables the team to adjust course based on evolving requirements.

2. Embracing Changes Throughout the Project

Unlike rigid project plans, Agile welcomes changes even late in the development process. This flexibility allows teams to adapt to emerging priorities and ensures the final product meets the client’s evolving needs.

3. Collaborative Team Dynamics

Agile emphasizes collaboration among cross-functional team members. The collective expertise contributes to more holistic problem-solving, fostering a sense of shared ownership and accountability.

 

III. Agile Methodologies: Scrum, Kanban, and More

1. Scrum: A Framework for Team Collaboration

Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies, emphasizing iterative progress, short development cycles (sprints), and frequent team collaboration. It is particularly effective for complex projects with changing requirements.

2. Kanban: Visualizing Workflows for Continuous Improvement

Kanban focuses on visualizing workflow, limiting work in progress, and enhancing overall efficiency. It’s a versatile approach suitable for both project management and continuous improvement processes.

3. Lean Agile: Streamlining Processes for Efficiency

Lean Agile combines principles from Lean manufacturing and Agile methodologies to eliminate waste, optimize efficiency, and deliver maximum value to customers.

 

Advertisement
[widget id=”custom_html-68″]

 

IV. Key Components of Agile Project Management

1. User Stories: Understanding Client Needs

User stories are concise descriptions of desired functionalities from an end user’s perspective. They serve as the foundation for planning and executing Agile projects.

2. Sprint Planning: Iterative Development Cycles

Sprint planning involves breaking down project tasks into manageable units and prioritizing them for iterative development cycles. This ensures regular delivery of functional components.

3. Daily Stand-ups: Enhancing Communication

Daily stand-up meetings, or scrum meetings, provide a platform for team members to discuss progress, challenges, and goals. These brief, focused sessions foster communication and collaboration.

 

V. FAQs About Agile Project Management

Q1: How Does Agile Project Management Differ From Traditional Approaches?

Agile differs by prioritizing adaptability, collaboration, and customer satisfaction over rigid plans. It welcomes changes throughout the project and encourages continuous delivery of value.

Q2: Is Agile Project Management Suitable for All Types of Projects?

While Agile is versatile, its suitability depends on project characteristics. It is highly effective for projects with evolving requirements, complex problem-solving, and a need for regular client feedback.

Q3: How Do Agile Teams Handle Changing Client Requirements?

Agile teams address changing client requirements through continuous communication and flexibility. The iterative nature of Agile allows teams to adapt and adjust project priorities as needed.

Q4: What Are the Common Challenges in Adopting Agile Project Management?

Challenges may include resistance to change, difficulty in transitioning from traditional methods, and the need for a cultural shift within the organization. However, these challenges can be addressed through proper training and change management.

Q5: Can Agile Principles Be Applied Outside of Software Development?

Absolutely. While Agile originated in software development, its principles can be applied to various industries, including marketing, product development, and even non-profit initiatives. The focus on collaboration, adaptability, and value delivery is universally applicable.

 

VI. Conclusion: Navigating Project Flexibility with Agile

In the realm of project management, mastering the basics of Agile is synonymous with embracing adaptability and collaboration. Agile Project Management provides a framework that aligns with the evolving needs of today’s dynamic projects. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager or new to the field, understanding these essentials is the key to navigating the complexities and unlocking the full potential of Agile methodologies in your projects.

Healthy Goals, Psychology, and Performance Assessment

A reader reported that the “Motivation: Intentions, Goals and Plans” chapter of my book, The Peaceful Warrior’s Path, triggered memories and painful feelings about performance reviews.

 

That set me to thinking that the cause of much of the trouble with performance assessment as a part of performance management was psychology and mindset about criticism, coupled with organizational and personal resistance to addressing those issues.

A recent Harvard Business Review article pointed out that

“Performance reviews are awkward. They’re biased. They stick us in boxes and leave us waiting far too long for feedback. It’s no surprise that by the end of 2015, at least 30 of the Fortune 500 companies had ditched performance evaluations altogether. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”[1]

 

My reader, a financial professional with a decades long career, reexperienced anxiety about being found deficient, reinforcing her need for perfection and acceptance by others, highlighting weakness and imperfection. Embarrassment, financial, and career consequences, circled in her mind.

As a result, she was triggered by the thought of setting goals and objectives. In her experience they were often unrealistic and rigid.

Others report a sense that they are being evaluated without adequate objective criteria and by people who are biased and, in some cases, unqualified, unprepared, or uninterested. Often the goals and objectives, even those set by the individual performer, are rigid and not adjusted when conditions change.

 

The Benefits of Performance Reviews

But let’s not just jettison performance goals, objectives, and assessments. Let’s make the best of them, to use them for personal growth and organizational success.

The HBR authors reported that at Facebook “a survey of more than 300 people found that “87% of people wanted to keep performance ratings.”[2]

They realized the need for candid feedback to give employees a sense of where they stand in the eyes of their organization and what they need to improve, and to give the organization knowledge of employee performance to support training, compensation, and hiring decisions.

Add to that the benefits, clarity of purpose and direction, which come from establishing rational expectations in the form of goals and objectives.

 

What Gets in The Way?

But something gets in the way. Not every organization is as wise as Facebook about optimizing their performance assessment process, including setting, and adjusting goals.

When I look at the issue from a project management perspective, I see three predominant causes of unskillful performance assessment: lack of clear goals and objectives, psychological/mindset issues, and poor process.

In this article we home in on the psychological issues and how they impact and are impacted by the other causes.

 

Psychology, Mindset, and Performance

There has been resistance to addressing psychological issues in the workplace. But we do well to be aware of these issues because individual psychology influences behavior and behavior influences performance and relationships.

The interplay among individual psychological tendencies and mindsets, cultural and organizational norms, and self-awareness influences performance and makes for a complex system. In a complex system change anywhere can have an impact everywhere.

For example, a project team member may make decisions influenced by fear of upsetting the functional manager who will give her the next review. Another performer may avoid committing to goals and objectives to avoid imagined failure. A project team may be reluctant to commit to objectives they feel are unrealistic and that they will be evaluated against regardless of changes to any number of conditions

 

In our projects, we see that factors like

  • Individual anxiety and perfectionism,
  • cultural norms,
  • performance processes
  • attitudes regarding success and failure,
  • communication and relationship capabilities,
  • levels of emotional and social intelligence, and
  • organizational support levels evidenced by allocating sufficient time and attention and adjusting objectives as conditions change,

all contribute to the success or failure of performance assessments and performance management.

 

Advertisement
[widget id=”custom_html-68″]

 

Skillful Performance management

Awareness of and sensitivity to psychological and cultural tendencies enables skillful performance management.

In projects, performance reviews are not limited to individual performers. We assess performance on individual projects and the performance across multiple projects of individuals, project teams, departments, and organizations.

Performance management should be treated like a program with each assessment of a project. Intentions, goals, and values drive performance. When we evaluate the effectiveness of performance management these elements must be considered. If we never evaluate the effectiveness of the program, it is likely to be ineffective. And that leads to less-than-optimal performance overall.

 

The intention of performance management is to improve and optimize performance while creating a work environment in which performers at all levels of the organization’s hierarchy feel safe and have a sense that the process is fair and objective. Values: effectiveness, kindness, candor, self-reflection, emotional intelligence.

The goal is to enable clarity regarding performance effectiveness through a process of performance reviews which include the assessment of the factors beyond individual behaviors that contribute to achieving optimal performance.

Objectives are to regularly assess the performance of individuals, projects, teams, and organizations to identify opportunities for improvement based upon pre-established criteria and to make decisions regarding the need for training, deciding who will be compensated at what levels, who will and will not be retained, and what organizational, management, cultural, and environmental changes are needed to achieve optimal performance.

 

Optimal Performance

If the intention and goal is to achieve optimal performance, then we must know what optimal performance means. It means performing as best as possible given current conditions where performance is measured by the ability to achieve desired results – satisfied clients, profits, clean air, healthy and happy executives, managers, and staff.

 

Next Steps

To move from the general to the specific you need an action plan for your situation. Consider each of these:

  • Identify a responsible party for performance management – and it can’t be ‘everybody’ even though everyone and every team is responsible for their performance
  • Educate the staff at all levels regarding the intent of performance assessment and the reality of psychological, emotional, and cultural influences
  • Set a baseline for optimal performance – objective and realistic criteria that are agreed upon by those whose performance will be measured
  • Assess your current performance management process – get feedback from the staff, assess against industry benchmarks
  • Refine the process as needed
  • Be open to continuous improvement based on ongoing assessment of both performance management and individual and project performance.

[1] Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, Adam Grant, Let’s Not Kill Performance Evaluations Yet, Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2016/11/lets-not-kill-performance-evaluations-yet#:~:text=People%20want%20to%20know%20where,recognize%20and%20reward%20top%20performance.
[2] Ibid

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.

 

Advertisement
[widget id=”custom_html-68″]

 

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.