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Resource planning: automate, schedule, and anticipate the rush in agencies and firms

Managing resources in agencies and firms is a daily challenge. Between unforeseen events, new projects to initiate, and rush periods to handle, anticipating and planning can quickly become a headache.

A failing resource management leads to accumulating delays, skyrocketing costs, and collapsing profitability. Fortunately, with the right tools and practices, these challenges can be transformed into opportunities.

What is your visibility on your workload plan?

Let’s recall, the workload plan is like a calendar for your team, but more sophisticated, where every task, project, and resource is meticulously planned to avoid conflicts and maximize efficiency.

Now, take a moment to think about it: what is your visibility on your workload plan? 1 week, 1 month, 3 months (be honest)?

This seemingly simple question is crucial. For any production manager, anticipating staffing, billing periods, and consequently, the company’s profitability is essential.

On average, agencies and service companies have visibility of 1 to 3 weeks on their workload plan (ouch), making it difficult to anticipate and adapt recruitments and skills to ongoing projects.

Imagine a creative team launching an advertising campaign: without visibility over the next weeks, you find out too late that JB, the key graphic designer, is on leave next week, leaving the team unable to finalize the project.

This makes not only anticipation complicated but also almost impossible to adapt recruitments and skills to the commercial needs.

At Furious, we found that a visibility of at least 2 months allows better anticipation of rush periods and, more importantly, a better sense of calm regarding your Working Capital Requirement (WCR). Achieving this level of visibility is not impossible if you implement the right habits and tools.

The majority of agencies report having difficulties planning their resources more than two weeks in advance.

So, how can you extend your visibility to several months?

To improve this visibility, it is crucial to centralize information and make it accessible to all stakeholders. This allows better anticipation of unexpected events and planning of holidays, client absences, and project validation phases. Accepting the unexpected is fine, but with moderation to avoid overload.

With over 5 years of experience and more than 1500 service companies supported, we have created a checklist to better plan, anticipate, and avoid rushes.

Step 1: Centralize project information.

One of the main challenges for agencies is centralizing project-related information. When this information is dispersed or reserved for a limited number of people (project manager, COO, production manager), overall visibility is restricted. This complicates the anticipation of changes and unforeseen events as the information is not accessible to all who need it. This hierarchical “silos” process hinders smooth collaboration, which is crucial in service companies where collaborators rarely work alone on a project/client.

Result? A lack of communication can lead to delays, errors, and poor coordination between teams.

Rush periods where the time sold to complete a project is running out without the entire mission being accomplished are frequent.

These high-pressure periods can lead to additional delays and an overload of work for teams, thereby affecting the quality of the final work.                                                                                                                   To avoid this, it is essential to share project visibility with all teams in real-time (we emphasize this point).                                                                                                                                                                        Open and transparent communication allows everyone to track project progress, anticipate resource needs, and adapt more quickly to unforeseen events. This also promotes better collaboration and a more harmonious work environment.

Our Furious Advice:

Provide your teams with simple and real-time updated metrics (project dates, progress status, planned and billed workload) as well as visual schedules with time allocated per person. For example, you can set up alerts at strategic moments for stakeholders’ vacations to anticipate as best as possible. Looking for a better way to manage your resources? Look no further.

Vous cherchez une meilleure façon de gérer vos ressources ? Ne cherchez pas plus loin.

Furious allows you to visualize schedules and alerts you in real-time if any overruns occur (project budget consumption in time spent, unfulfilled billing, etc.). You can control who sees what to varying degrees, enhancing team synchronization. 

Decentralizing the role of the production manager and giving visibility to all teams is a crucial first step for smooth planning.

Once this step is completed, ensure you have clear visibility of at least 6 weeks on signed projects, ongoing quotes, and the available sales pipeline.

This will ensure that your production teams are adequately staffed. Otherwise, you will need to adjust your strategy and intensify commercial activities, whether through acquiring new clients (new business) or retaining existing ones (in business).

Keep in mind that to be profitable, your production teams should be staffed and spend 70 to 80% of their available time on billable projects. Based on this metric, you can also reorganize individual assignments to deliver maximum value to the company.

Ready to move on to the next step?

Step 2: Automate Tasks to Save Time

Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks is an effective way to save time and improve profitability.

By delegating processes like invoice reminder follow-ups, time overrun alerts on projects, prospect follow-up workflows, and vacation approvals, you free your team from tedious administrative tasks. These automations not only optimize workflow but also reduce human errors, allowing for smoother and more efficient management of projects and resources.

Our Furious Advice:

Use a business tool that automates time tracking, vacation approvals, and schedule consolidation. This allows teams to focus on higher value-added tasks.

Focus on the case of Wokine.

Context

Wokine, a Lille-based agency with about thirty employees, struggled to optimize the profitability of its fixed-price projects. Management was done via a shared Excel file, complicating time tracking and client communication.

Initial issues

Solution and Results with Furious

  1. Centralization and Automation: The agency replaced the Excel file with dynamic dashboards, automatic alerts, and real-time data shared with clients.
  2. Transparency and Communication: By sharing dashboards with clients, Wokine established total transparency. Clients can see in real-time the time spent on their projects, the people involved, and the tasks completed.
  3. Profitability and Responsiveness: Using Furious allowed Wokine to clearly explain to clients the reasons for time spent, facilitating understanding and acceptance of overruns. This led to almost immediate problem resolution and strengthened client trust.

En conclusion

With Furious, Wokine transformed its project management, making processes and client communication smoother and more transparent, improving client satisfaction and overall project profitability.

Step 3: Staff your teams upon quote approval

“Upon quote approval”? That might seem exaggerated to you.

And yet…

For a service company, maximizing each collaborator’s time is the foundation of sustainable profitability. Planning team time can be a daily headache (and a huge time waster), especially beyond three weeks.

The solution? Automated time allocation based on available resources.

To maximize profitability, it is crucial to staff teams quickly and efficiently. This involves tracking utilization rates by skill and planning resources according to project needs.

Staffing your teams is not just about project management. You need a global view of utilization rates by skill for specific periods, as well as the allocation levels per person.

Are your teams spending their time on pre-sales? Pure production? Back-office?

The weighting of billable time varies by role: a project manager will spend 80% of their time on billable work, while a marketing position will be at 30% billable.

Additionally, staffing a team for a large project can take several days for your project managers or operations director.

Our Furious Advice:

Use resource management tools that offer a global view of utilization rates and available skills

Furious allows you to staff teams within minutes of quote approval, based on skills and availability.

Easily plan and save time by automating with Furious

Designed by former service company executives for their own needs, Furious is now the ultimate business solution. Initially intended to control profitability, automate time tracking, and consolidate schedules, Furious also allows you to easily anticipate your workload plan for 6 months to a year, thanks to tailored and easily actionable features.

Transform quoted times into allocated times on the schedule (by skills, individuals, or needs), vacation approval workflows, Gantt view of schedules by project (or by skills, or BU), and automatic project progress updates sent to clients via email…

Everything is designed to simplify your daily operations and maximize your team’s long-term staffing.

Curious to see how Furious can put your service company on autopilot?

Schedule a discovery call now (you can try it for free for 15 days).

In general, our clients come to us in two scenarios. Either they are in a growth phase looking to structure their company and gain insights from best industry practices, or they have experienced an unforeseen operational crisis. With Furious, it is impossible to lose money without the tool warning you beforehand!
Davy Tessier
Furious Squad CEO
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