New Year’s Resolutions are famous – or infamous – for being easily forgotten. We move on with our lives and deal with the stresses of today, making it difficult to live up to the commitments we made to ourselves on January 1.
Many professional services executives start the year by saying – “I will panic less about staffing, I will remain calm when conflicts arise, I will plan for the future to avoid future bottlenecks, and I will manage my business with proper planning.” Then they go back to work on January 2 and face reality. Their team just closed a ton of new business at the end of the year (Hooray!) and now their backlog has doubled (Yikes!). So they start fighting fires and trying to survive, and planning takes a back seat to immediate execution.
So let’s think about some Mid-Year resolutions NOW. We need to put the plans in place now for you to hit your second half goals. And unlike New Year’s Resolutions –for which I have no good advice - I do have some advice for Mid Year goals and you need to get started now. Specifically:
- Understand your team, and what they will look like in 9 months
- Plan for growth – match your sales team in overall capacity
- Build a hiring plan
Understanding your team:
“My team is very happy, we have low attrition”
Stability is important to a professional services organization. You want to keep your talented and experienced people because you can rely on them to deliver quality work on-time and on-budget. But now is a good time to think about who’s on your team will be there in nine months. For example, if you have a historic attrition rate of 10% per year and you have a 100-person team, you can expect to lose 10 people this year. Have you considered that in your analysis?
Now take it one step further – work with your managers and start identifying flight risks (those who you think will leave voluntarily) and under-performers (those who are a bad fit for your organization), and develop contingency plans for if/when they leave. This is your baseline.
Plan for growth:
“I know our growth targets, we did that as part of 2013 budgeting”
Entering 2013 you have performed your strategic planning. The business has its overall goals and you have your strategic objectives and revenue targets. Now might be a good time to re-visit those growth plans and confirm a few questions:
First, is your plan realistic – can you hire in the quantities and timelines outlined without outside recruiting help? If not you should start to determine how you will hit those goals and ramping up recruiting.
Second, is your plan tracking with sales? You probably performed the initial analysis of hiring enough bodies to match sales goals (you did, didn’t you??), but now is a good time to sit with your sales team and consider if they are on track with their targets both in terms of overall dollars (obviously affecting your bench/capacity) and in project mix (even if you have the right bodies, do you have the right skills). After this initial meeting, set a regular weekly meeting to review sales pipeline in both capacity and mix to ensure that you have the right hiring targets as the year evolves.
Build a Hiring Plan
“Of course I have a hiring plan, we did that as part of 2013 Budgeting”.
If you know the number of bodies you need, you know the skills mix, and you have your recruiters lined up, you are in great shape. But organizations that are successful for many consecutive years (and not just this year) invest in hiring to meet a pyramid of junior resources on the bottom and fewer more senior resources at the top. Now is the perfect time to build a plan to hire recent college graduates and build your pyramid from the bottom, the hardest place to build. Most business-oriented college seniors are looking for full-time employment now, even though they won’t start working for the summer. Have you identified the schools from which you have been recruiting? Do you have the right job descriptions? Do you have the right compensation package? Of course you can go ahead and keep hiring only experienced consultants, and delay fixing your period until future years, but now is the time to build a pyramid that will work in 2014 (yes, we are doing 2014 planning NOW). And this is one project that can’t wait until the fall, unless you want to lose another year.
As an alternative to college hiring, maybe you are looking at off-shoring for low-cost resources. Now is also the time to start that project. Once summer hits and vacations become more frequent, long term initiatives like off-shoring become difficult to implement. Plus, you can see results THIS YEAR if you start now. It’s challenging to fund projects in the second half of the year that won’t benefit you until the following year –that’s not helping anyone’s metrics.
The classic corporate budgeting cycle leaves us with the impression that we don’t need to revisit our plans and assumptions very often. But now is the right time to do that if you want to better understand the composition of your team, the degree to which your plans are turning into reality, and the options you have at shaping your team for the future. NetSuite’s Resource Management capabilities equip you to meet this challenge head on – with detailed resource forecasting by capacity and skill set, integrated Sales Force Automation to understand pipeline and backlog, and financial modeling to determine how to maximize profitability in your resource pool.
All you need to do is make some Mid-Year Resolutions.
- Ed Marshall, SVP, General Manager Services Vertical at NetSuite