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Someone for Everyone

Authored by Mark Robinson, Kimble’s Chief Marketing Officer.

A lid for every pot. And a (perfect) resource for every client. That’s the consulting organization’s dream: to have the right people available to service the right clients at exactly the right time, with utilization as high as can be without causing burnout. That’s what maximizes profitability, which is what enables senior management to reinvest in the business, causing it to grow, grow, grow.

For many consultancies, it continues to be only a dream. More often than not, a consulting organization’s corporate story is one of the endless cycles of feast or famine, which only permit the company to scale in sporadic bursts. What’s sad is that this kind of growth brings with it its own slew of administrative and organizational headaches, and that has to take some of the shine off the achievement. Still, we’re proverbially advised not to look a gift horse in the mouth, so why question your firm’s growth? It’s a good thing: shouldn’t that be enough?

Well, yes and no. How much better would it be if growth could be more easily planned for, steady and sustainable? It would remove much of the admin pain, and it would do wonders for your ability to plan investments in people, office space, technology and other equipment – and that’s just to begin with. It’s also eminently possible, and this post is a quick look at how.

It’s all about visibility: link up the business development and resourcing teams so that there’s an efficient and regular two-way flow of information. It can be done with software, but just as (if not more) importantly it requires a behavioral shift. The two teams have much they can assist one another with and, through doing so, turn punctuated growth spurts into a smooth continuum.

Think about this: if business development records every detail about every prospect project in the pipeline as soon as they become aware of it – and if resourcing can and does check this information – a generic profile of the skillset required for an upcoming project can be built up. Resourcing managers can begin to identify consultants who might fit the brief and are likely to be available in the right timeframe and earmark them against the project as its likelihood becomes more certain. Bingo: a just-in-time delivery strategy for the consulting industry, all without having to run a suboptimal bench of profit-depleting idle consultants.

Now flip it around: if business development can see which consultants are currently (or are soon to be) on the bench, they can commandeer them to help clinch deals. They’re selling your consultants’ knowledge, after all, so what better way to show it off than to get them involved in pre-sales? Moreover, the sales team can use the resourcing information to sell more intelligently: if they know who’s available, they can concentrate on selling to prospects that require precisely those skillsets, rather than securing a project that the firm then can’t service for months because none of the appropriate resources are available.

That’s just the beginning, too, because if both senior management and resourcing have a clear view of the pipeline and skill requirements, they can notice and proactively respond to trends. If there’s a preponderance of potential projects coming up that deal with, say, healthcare services transformation, you can suit up to ride the wave – whether by upskilling existing consultants, hiring new ones, or updating your pool of associates.

There is a lid for every pot, but finding and matching them all up doesn’t have to be a messy and time-consuming process. The key is to make sure you have visibility of all that different kitchenware and deal with it systematically. For a consulting organization, that visibility of upcoming resourcing requirements and willingness to adopt a culture of methodically defining and fulfilling them early is one of the most powerful ways to fuel sustainable growth.