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First off, I would like to express that our thoughts are with the people affected by COVID-19 and the medical professionals working around the clock to help those in need. 

Defining the New “Normal”

As the Professional Services industry begins to settle into what some are considering the new “normal”, organizations are delivering even more Services remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also faced with some fundamental changes. These changes impact how PS engagements are designed, sold, staffed, and delivered. For some members, delivering remote services is nothing new and existing capabilities made it easy to pivot to work from home (WFH). For others, moving to WFH was not easy and involved retooling, process reengineering, training and enablement for remote delivery, and so much more.

Some PS orgs are still working through the crisis mode, a basic survival reaction to the changes happening around them. PS leaders are making some very important decisions across a broad range of topics, including: 

  • Forecasting revenue impact 
  • Cost cutting and to what extent to discount new or inflight deals 
  • Furloughing people, or, more simply put, trying to keep the business functioning at some basic level

Assessing the New “Normal”

Over the past 2 weeks, I have heard from many TSIA members that they were able to easily pivot to building, selling, and delivering services almost entirely remotely. This group of PS leaders was able to move quickly through the “reacting wave” of the pandemic and begin looking forward to assessing the new normal, looking for ways to improve the business and focus on improving capabilities to accelerate business when the ‘all clear’ is called.

With this very small sliver of backdrop related to what almost every PS organization is working through, I want to transition to how the Resource Management function can help PS leaders look ahead and move to more proactive planning, leveraging “what-if” scenarios. Let’s face it, no one has a crystal clear view of the path ahead. 

Core Capabilities for Resource Management

From my vantage point as an evangelist for Resource Management, RM is uniquely positioned to take on a much larger role by providing insights to PS leaders, helping them make informed decisions as they lead and navigate the uncertainties of the path ahead. To help the business maximize resource efficiency and help proactively plan for future “what-if” scenarios, certain core capabilities need to be in place. 

These core capabilities include formal processes related to Talent Management, including: 

  • Sourcing new talent 
  • Skills inventory management 
  • Technology and data 
  • Forecasting capacity and forecasting demand 
  • Staffing/scheduling
  • Process governance to ensure adoption of the standard processes

Here are just a few of the practical situations that are shaping up on the path ahead.

Consider for a moment the situation where a PS leader made the hard decision to furlough people. The decision was likely made with some basic assumptions, such as the resources that will be available when we need them back. What if those people are not available when needed? 

RM can help here, armed with data from talent management capabilities, RM can provide accurate estimates on how long it takes to recruit, onboard and get resource putting time on billable engagements. This level of detail is very useful for PS leaders that are working on revenue impact analysis. 

Returning to Work in the Field

This leads to another situation, when we get the initial ‘it’s okay to start working in the field again’, what resources do we need during the initial transition to delivering more work in the field? 

Again, RM has information that is vital to helping PS leaders make an informed decision. Looking across current skills inventory, current engagement schedules and PS backlog, RM can provide a clear view of what skills have been on the bench, where the demand is from the backlog by skill and role, along with insight from what is currently in the sales pipeline. Aggregating all this together the RM function can provide a roadmap of what resources are needed, along with when and possibly where. 

PS leaders will almost certainly be under a lot of pressure to make up lost revenue during this COVID-19 pitstop. This is a great opportunity for RM to build fact-based options from skills inventory, scheduling/staffing, and partner delivery resources to demonstrate options for hiring, options for using partners and timelines to onboard, enable and deliver against engagements that are already booked and in the PS backlog waiting for delivery.

Looking Ahead

Having provided insight based on the above common scenarios, RM can also put together improved forecasting models to project out what resources will be needed with what skills to meet the business need 6 to 12 months from now. It does require a good process which helps with improved data quality, and it's good data that enables effective forecasting when combined with resource capacity planning models.

One other key element to RM functions, it’s a team function requiring interlocks with Sales in review of the pipeline, interlocks with delivery reviewing backlog, and interlocks with Services Engineering/Services Portfolio management. 

We are all in this crisis together and when it ends we will all come through it together and find ways to continue to adapt to our new way of providing Professional Services.

TSIA is Here for You

We understand that our member companies, the technology industry, and the world at large have been impacted by COVID-19. Whether you are prepared for Revving or Retooling, now, more than ever, we need to work together to get through these challenging times. TSIA is committed to providing visibility as quickly as possible into the changing industry trends and practices that come as a result of COVID-19. Visit our Rapid Research Response Initiative resource page for more information.

If you have any questions related to how COVID-19 is impacting your organization, we’re here to help.

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David Young

About Author David Young

David Young is the senior director of professional services research and operational best practices for TSIA. In this role, he is responsible for developing and delivering research programs that are focused on helping TSIA member organizations build and optimize professional services. He is also responsible for leading and delivering operational best practices to member organizations. David has over 25+ years of experience in technology, operations, analysis, project management, and consulting, including experience in hi-tech semi-conductor industry, software product development, program management and professional services working in large enterprise and small startup organizations.