For an agency, resource planning is one in all the important thing aspects in smooth and successful operations. Essentially, good resource management can show you how to determine whether you’ve got the capability to deliver current and expected work, whether you would like to bring in freelancer support, and even hire latest recruits.
Recent times have added some further challenges to agency resource forecasting, with an increased trend for hybrid working making it tougher to know just what everyone’s working on. But while peaks and troughs is usually a somewhat-inevitable a part of agency life, with a couple of calculations you may plan your resource smartly and capably.
How to get your resource planning right?
Remember, time is all the things
For an agency, time is your commodity. It’s what you sell and the way you make profits. It is smart, subsequently, that it’s the place to begin in your resource planning. The very first thing to do is understand how much time you currently have available to sell.
This means figuring out how much each team member has available to do chargeable work, which is their ‘utilisation’ rate. What do I mean by this? Well, clearly some team members don’t have billable hours, reminiscent of resource managers or finance teams. But for people who do, the planners or doers, not every minute of each working day will probably be chargeable. Think about tea breaks, toilet breaks, meetings/briefings, and lunch. Not to mention things like pitches, internal jobs and latest business.
To work out a utilisation rate for every person, you would like to do some calculations. A very good start line is to talk to each team member. Ask them how much time they roughly spend on non-billable work. Of course, this can vary from person to person and it’s not set in stone, but you would possibly find some team members are more incessantly placed on internal jobs, for instance, than others.
Take a glance back at timesheets over the past yr, if you’ve got this data. Then you may deduct their non-billable hours from their total hours, which provides you with your variety of chargeable hours (you may turn this right into a percentage). This will probably be different for every agency and every role, but experts from Agency Works say the common figure is 62.5%.
Calculating a person’s utilisation rate
Once you’ve got a sensible idea of every team member’s available hours per week, month and yr you may multiply by your rate to get an idea of what number of hours you’ve got to sell per skillset.
For example, if you’ve got 4 copywriters with a median of 100 available hours per 30 days at £75ph, you may sell 400 hours or £30,000 value of copywriting.
Now have a look at what’s already been sold
It’s essential here to remember the difference between estimated time and quoted time. Estimated time is your internal guide for the way long you would like to complete the job. Quoted time is how much you’ve quoted the client. Some agencies quote less to fit in with budgets, for instance. But you would like to take into consideration how long a job will actually take to effectively know the way many hours you’ve got accounted for. Compare estimated versus available to get a figure in your remaining capability.
Synergist Booked vs capability report
Then you would like to turn your attention to your pipeline, eg what work is coming in? Some of this may increasingly be definite, but other projects could also be still on the ‘opportunity’ stage. You could give these a weighting of the probability of converting, giving essentially the most credence to those with a 75% and over likelihood.
Now you understand what each team member’s utilisation rate is, how much time each team has available, what you’ve already sold and what’s coming in. This shows you which of them resources still have the capability and any teams that could be looking overbooked.
Synergist Capacity report by team and individual
Finding the best balance
Agency work can come in peaks and troughs, and sometimes we want to just accept that is the character of the job. But having one team running around like headless chickens with one other sat idly by is just not good for morale or profit margins. So that is where you would like to think twice about how to manage demand.
In general, this implies taking a look at bringing in freelancers, shifting work between departments where you may or, ultimately, recruiting.
If it looks like a specific peak is one-off or likely to be short-lived, you may bring in freelancers. This is usually a particularly useful approach if you’ve got a powerful roster of people that can come in and effortlessly pick up the work. But you would like to be strict. Don’t keep freelancers on beyond the project you’ve hired them for on a ‘just-in-case’ basis. This is a tempting trap that agencies often fall into, but having a freelancer around simply to mop up extra work is a costly business.
…or do you would like to start recruiting?
If it seems likely that a specific team goes to have an excessive amount of work in the long run, it may very well be time to consider hiring. In the long term, paying freelance rates to someone who’s a member of staff in all but name will cost you way over recruiting a latest team member.
On the flip side, if a specific team looks as if they will probably be underutilised for the foreseeable future, you would like to review why that is? Have you shifted the way in which you’re employed? Have clients moved away from using a specific service? Or have you ever simply not been specializing in selling for this area? If it’s the latter, you may simply try to up your sales game. But if the work for this team is in general decline, you can have a look at restructuring, seeing if any of your existing team members are willing to upskill or retrain to adapt to your changing needs.
Having an overworked team in one corner while you’re paying for freelancers and an underused team in the opposite where you’re paying salaries doesn’t make for a glad equation in terms of profit.
Using an agency management system
It’s only by having a transparent idea of utilisation rates by skillset or individual team member you can really get an image of what’s happening across your whole agency. Without these upfront calculations, it could take a while before you begin to notice these patterns. And as a resource is the most important expense for agencies, that in turn will impact your profitability and growth.
This is where an agency management system may be value its weight in gold. Making calculations based on real, accurate data signifies that your decision-making is informed slightly than based on guesswork. While team members can provide you with a rough idea of how long they spend on non-chargeable work, an agency management system offers a full breakdown of the figures.
Synergist’s capability planning features can provide you with a transparent picture of how much time has been estimated for live jobs, time booked on chargeable and non-chargeable work or holidays, and the way long continues to be available, by team, individual or skill set.
Synergist Capacity Management Dashboard
Plus, you may track opportunities in your pipeline to show you how to proactively plan your resources so there aren’t any nasty surprises to firefight. While it would feel good to think you’ve got a number of projects coming in, these will only be profitable if you’ve got the best people to work on them.
From chaos to calm
Resource planning might sound complicated but with the best agency management tools, it could possibly be surprisingly easy. Effective forecasting helps you progress away from the chaotic feast-or-famine way of working that seems to beleaguers so many agencies.
Instead, it could possibly shift you right into a more peaceful mode, with teams operating at as near to full capability as possible.
The challenge to agencies is to keep teams busy but at optimum levels. Too busy and also you’ll have very stressed individuals who aren’t producing their best work. Too quiet and also you’ll have bored creatives giving hours and hours to the tiniest of projects. Resource management is about job satisfaction, higher profits and growth management. While the day-to-day work of an agency is in creative considering, the last word profitability and sustainability are in the planning and preparation.
Visit Synergist’s website to learn more about how Synergist can show you how to power your agency’s performance and profitability.
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