In almost every services deal, the salesperson has to answer the question:
“When can you deliver this service?”
It’s often a difficult question to answer. Sometimes the sales rep will just say: “Our average delivery time is three weeks.” Or the rep might step away to call a scheduler or project manager and ask when the next available openings are. The entire thing can quickly grow into an administrative headache for many salespeople.
That’s where resource planning comes in.
The Value of Effective Resource Planning for Service Organizations
Resource planning is simply the process of managing your available resources. In a service organization, that means figuring out who’s available when, and if you have the right staffing levels to meet demand.
Do this right, and you’ll see:
- Faster delivery of services
- Better client satisfaction
- More sales
Better cooperation between your sales team, your service professionals, and your administrative staff
Make Your System Visible…
The best advice we can give you about resource planning is to make your system visible to everyone who’s involved in selling and delivering your services. That means your salespeople, administrative staff, service professionals, and managers should all be able to see who’s available when, and what obligations each employee is currently assigned.
When you build a resource management system that’s visible to everyone, it provides four key benefits:
1. It Gives Your Sales Staff Better Information
A good system will allow your sales reps to see what resources are available at any given time without having to check with anyone first. That way they’ll be able to answer a prospective customer’s “what’s your timeline?” question any time it comes up. This helps your administrative and services teams too. They’ll have far fewer last-minute changes and rescheduling requests for “important customers.”
2. It Holds Everyone Accountable
Any system will fail if your employees don’t use it, and a common complaint within organizations is that their reports don’t seem to match reality. Inaccurate reports usually happen when employees aren’t entering data into your company’s project management or CRM tools. And that happens when people aren’t being held accountable for using the tools they’ve been given. When you make resource planning visible to everyone, it will be more likely your employees will enter the data they should. If they don’t, everyone will see it, including you and your management staff, and you can take action to correct the issue.
3. It Makes Everyone’s Obligations Visible
Ever been asked the question: “Does your team have enough bandwidth to take this on?” Many managers will simply say, “yes,” without truly knowing whether their team can to take on a new project at that moment. This leads to “drop everything” and “fire drill” situations. A good resource management system will help prevent those types of fire drills. You’ll have easy access to your team’s current workload, and you’ll be able to say with confidence what impact “dropping everything” will have on other projects. Letting everyone see each other’s current assignments also makes it easier for your sales team to overcome scheduling objections. For example, telling a new customer: “We’ll get back to you to schedule a time,” isn’t a great way to inspire confidence. Instead, it’s better if your sales reps can pull up a schedule and say—with confidence—“It looks like we can be there on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Which would work better for you?”
4. It’s Easier to Track Results
Business decisions are much easier when you know you have good data. It’ll be easier to find information and simple to create reports you can use to track performance. If you’re a manager or decision maker, you have much to gain by developing a resource planning system everyone will use.
Benefits of an Integrated Approach
Resource planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is a topic that deserves a bit of planning on your part. When you do it well, it will make everything in your company run more smoothly, and customers and employees will both benefit from the process. Something as simple as integrating your project management system with your CRM tool can go a long way toward improving your sales results.
If you’re a Salesforce user, we invite you to see what Klient’s next-generation PSA software can do for your project management and resource planning needs.