Balancing demand with resourcing

Professional services automation with Kimble implementation.

How does a business service organisation ensure current and future demand for its services is met with the right level of resourcing needed to deliver those services?

Context

After fifteen years of growth this burgeoning financial consulting firm had become increasingly nervous about resourcing because they felt their management reporting system wasn’t up to the task of informing their people decisions.

Challenge

Our client wasn’t alone. Many business and professional services firms struggle to balance resources and demand. Get it wrong and either they find themselves unable to service their clients adequately, or they end up funding people who aren’t bringing in revenue. Either way, the bottom line suffers

This particular client had other issues too, mostly caused by the same problem: a lack of connectivity in the processes serving different parts of the organisation. Simply put, there was no end-to-end view of how the business fits together. The result was inadequate management information (fuelled by guesswork, delay and duplication) and a siloed culture in which each department embraced its own favoured solutions with as much enthusiasm as it rejected everyone else’s.

At that point, each department within the client’s business had no real choice but to operate independently. HR were using finger-in-the-wind tactics to manage resources and identify gaps. Billing struggled to find out what project rates had been agreed. Management reporting was cumbersome and time-consuming. Finance were the last to find out when fixed-price projects overran – with horrible impact on revenue accounting.

Solution

The client desperately needed a single, sales-driven system that would provide visibility from sales all the way down the line to marketing, HR, finance, billing, operations and management. So they approached Kimble, a provider of professional services management solutions.

That’s how Smart Tips got involved. As one of Kimble’s earliest customers, we’ve grown up using their software and we have a deep understanding of how to get the most from it. That, plus our specialist expertise in professional services operations – made us Kimble’s first choice to manage this implementation.

The Smart Tips approach

The CEO’s embrace of the big picture point of view fit perfectly with Smart Tips’ own way of thinking. All too often, technology is viewed through the magnifying lens of solving a specific problem, rather than the telescopic lens of how a system might best serve the wider objectives of the organisation.

How we did it

First, we observed and listened. Then we analysed and processed. Then, and only then, was it time to act:

  • We started by mapping the entire business process: marketing, sales, delivery resourcing, finance, operations and billing. The objective was to define an end-to-end picture of how the different areas worked together and then map that process to the Kimble model
  • Next, we helped the client through the process of testing to make sure the model worked for current operational needs, and that it would keep pace with their future plans.
  • With the help of our training, the finance team were able to transform the reporting process, streamlining the information needed to manage the business.
  • Smart Tips played a significant role in readying the client’s data for migration and overseeing the transfer to Kimble.

Project managing these different elements over nine months of planning and implementation was a complex but satisfying job, and one that coincided perfectly with our skill-set. This comfortable fit gave the client confidence they had chosen the right solution – and the right partners to help them implement it.

Result

Every part of the client’s business was affected by the changes. Rather than trying to tackle every piece of the complex puzzle at once, we moved forward in small, incremental steps, building up a logical picture of what needed to be done. Kimble promised to provide the end-to-end view that was so badly needed but, initially at least, the concept was greeted with unease by the staff, who couldn’t envision how sharing accurate information in real time might transform the way they worked

The CEO did have that vision. He understood that having clear visibility of the entire business flow was essential if they were to continue their success. He got right behind the project and we worked alongside him, helping to get the stakeholders’ buy-in while he neatly deflated people’s concerns.

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