With close to 20% of retail sales occurring in the month of December and over 768,000 new hires in the US alone to address the holiday rush, there is a lot to learn from the retail industry on how to effectively plan for spikes in resource demand. Of course, an extensive recruitment strategy comes to mind when running a seasonal business. Ensuring you can attract the best talent to serve your customers is key. That being said, retailers are well aware that with seasonal sales comes risk. Hence, contingency planning and risk management are an integral part of their resource planning strategy. When a significant portion of your revenue relies on a couple of weeks out of the year, one wrong turn can cripple your business. All it takes is a bad bout of inclement weather to lead to overstaffing or the breakdown of the POS system during peak hours that will stifle sales. Retailers understand that risk mitigation and resource planning go hand in hand.
Although resource planning is positioned as a proactive practice, the truth is, most businesses in the B2B services sector tend to overlook the benefits of integrating a risk management strategy into their practice. For example, in the professional services world people are the most important asset to the business, yet the risk associated to this asset at times seems peripheral to the primary need to best service the customer. Risk assessment needs to be an integral part of delivering a successful resource plan facilitating organizations to effectively staff their teams while getting the most out of the people on hand.
When building a resource management strategy, here are a number of risk factors to consider:
- Lack of transparency on roles and duties – when building an effective team, transparency on what individual resources need to deliver is key. Meeting the availability of resources need does not mean your solving your ability to successfully deliver to customers.
- Human calamities – Illness or socio-political changes can drastically impact your resource pool. Having a “Plan B” to back fill your resource pool allows an organization to weather unforeseen events that can significantly impact the survival of their business.
- Transient nature of careers – The inherent nature of career moves of talent is unavoidable. Effective resource planning needs to prepare for the changing of the guards, up and down the organization.
- Motivation and conflict – The chemistry among team members can heavily impact the success of service delivery. No corporate culture is perfect and like any relationship, an investment needs to be made to strengthen the core group so that a bad apple does not spoil the bunch.
- New or lost opportunities – There is no crystal ball that will guarantee what new business will walk through the door, or inversely, what customer may walk out. Building a plan to deal with drastic changes in the business will allow for more streamlined growth and/or churn.
In the end, what needs to be recognized is that the effective planning of people is way more complex than back filling and moving the supply of resources to support demand. There are many risk factors that are just unavoidable. As a result, building risk into a resource plan will allow for a more responsive team to deliver optimal results (despite any obstacles thrown in their direction).
About the Author: Neil Stolovitsky has over 16 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.
To watch our recent webinar on Resource Management called, Ready to Bury Your Resource Management Spreadsheet? Click HERE.