Deltek offers consultancies four top tips for profitable growth.

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We’re half way through the year now and a good time for a mid-year assessment of your business plan for the year. A chance to make sure you’re on the right track, tweak the strategy and start driving it again. As part of this you’ll be thinking about how to drive new profitable revenue streams from existing clients, and how to attract and retain new ones. So, here are four top tips for profitable growth to consider as your consulting firm works its way through your mid-year assessment this June.

1. Get the most out of your best asset

Every business can improve its resource capacity, from directors and partners right through to employees. Businesses are in a constant state of change, so an on-going capacity and resource assessment should be central to all planning. But, you can only select the best people for a consulting project – in terms of both skills and availability - if you have visibility of the firm’s entire workload, both actual and planned.

You need to avoid the “fire drill” approach to resource planning, which typically arises from the need to quickly resource large new projects, balanced with the management of current work-in-progress. The less able you are to see the whole resource picture, the less likely you are to plan strategically for these projects and spikes in workload. A current and accurate capacity view means you can maximise resource allocation, cut down on last-minute shuffling, and get the right people on the right job at the right time.

With a more sophisticated resource selection process in place, you are also able to assign staff to rewarding client work, find the most effective combinations of executives, managers, and staff and move from 'assigning' based on capacity to include other key attributes like industry experience skills and work preferences. Why? Because the tighter the fit between staff and project, the more productive this project will be.

2. Optimise the project

Surprises are rarely positive in business, especially when it comes to expectations or results. Yet, unbelievably, business leaders often see results of a project when it is too late or too far down the road to make substantive changes. This once again can be simply avoided by using a centralised enterprise resource planning system to provide constant visibility of projected vs. actual project metrics throughout the course of the project. If clear individual, team and corporate performance targets are agreed and timely key performance indicators (KPIs), margin and utilisation metrics are used, then team leaders are able to effectively manage performance and make adjustments to ensure the project is kept on target.

3. Strong system integration

If any business was to review projects from across the past year, a few would stand out as real successes in meeting and exceeding the client’s expectations. But many companies don’t actually then undertake a detailed analysis of these projects and check exactly what the ‘bright spots’ were so they can apply them to project structure moving forward.

In part, this happens as it’s often too hard to gain detailed insights on project performance and really understand what led to such a positive and successful project. This is generally because, although you might have the access to the data, it is spread across the organisation in disparate systems that don’t or rarely ‘talk’ to each other. For example, client data in CRM systems, then resource information in planning software, engagement details in a project management system and so on. Gathering this disconnected data is complex and time-consuming, so it often doesn’t happen and we go off what we think works and doesn’t rather than what actually happened.

But you have to understand the relationships between work, people, and decisions that made a job successful, if you are to succeed again and grow the business. This requires bringing all of this disparate and rich data together in common, coherent system that has maximum visibility and transparency. With one integrated system for resource allocation, financial management and project management, you’ll have the complete history of the project and critically, the context of the decisions that led to the results. These can then be applied company-wide.

4. Mobilise your workforce

In the past, remote working often meant long delays in capturing hours, entering expenses, or approving timesheets. Such delays slow down invoicing and jeopardise work in progress (WIP) accuracy. But today, the technology has now caught up and mobile access keeps work flowing smoothly and free of delay, regardless of where the employee is.

Information on the new business pipeline, WIP, resource capacity, and accounts receivable can all be made available to the remote worker. And, their mobile device is also ideal for tasks like submitting timesheets, approving expenses, or triggering a client invoice. Today every firm can potentially benefit from the accuracy such real-time information capture brings to resource capacity or WIP.

Assessing the first half of 2013 and strategically planning for the management of your people, projects and processes in the second half will drive your firm to profitable growth. As you plan for the next six months, make the right decisions to guide your firm to greater success.

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Deltek is the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms. For decades, we have delivered actionable insight that empowers our customers to unlock their business potential. 16,000 organisations and more than 2 million users in over 80 countries around the world rely on Deltek to research and identify opportunities, win new business, optimise resources, streamline operations, and deliver more profitable projects. Deltek – Know more. Do more. www.deltek.co.ukread more