~ By Neil Davidson
Everyone talks about the economic crisis as though it will pass if we take the proper financial medicine. But that is a naive assumption. The crisis has introduced a new world order that will persist for many years to come. To develop and create growth, the wisest thing we can do is to utilise the resources we already have. It will take courage and real commitment, and the right tools.
We constantly hear about companies feeling the pinch of the crisis. Job cuts, restructuring and streamlining is on everyone's lips and in everyone's thoughts. Yes, we are in a crisis. And yes, the circumstances are rough. But the most important decision, both as an individual and as an executive, is to accept our situation as 'the new normal'. Instead of treating the crisis as a phenomenon that will soon pass, it is much wiser to adjust yourself and your company to be able to flourish in the new economic environment brought to us by the crisis and economic downturn. It is about benefiting as much as possible from the resources we have access to.
In the fall of 2008 Deltek surveyed a wide range of consultancy companies to discover what systems and methods they use to get an overview of their resources. The survey revealed that a whopping 50 percent of all the consultancy companies aren't able to plan even one month ahead. Just as disconcertingly, 80 percent are unable to measure and plan resources across departments in the organisation. Finally, only a few are able to effectively use, or even know, the competencies of their consultants.
In the roar and bustle of bullish times, when goods, services and products are sold before they are even produced at the desk or the conveyor belt, we can live with the fact that we don't really know how to use or optimise our resources. But there is a different reality now. Therefore, as a minimum, we should try to create a systematic approach to how we manage and use our resources. The way we plan and use our working day should be optimised. Possible new investments should be implemented on the basis of adequate knowledge and for the right reasons. Products and projects should be developed to create results, and knowledge and competencies should be protected, consolidated and encouraged in ways that have the best possible effect on the well-being of personnel. Quite simply, we need to base our decisions on facts. And for all these possibilities there is a complementary software solution that can help. An efficient resource management system will take you one step along the way, but it needs to be backed up by the right philosophy and the right strategy.
Many believe that more management leads to more lay-offs - that measuring and knowing your resources is usually done to cut excess fat and let people go. And that is the naive strategy many companies seem to follow - the same companies that believe everything will go back to the way they were any time now. Instead it is vital to have a clear strategy that leads to better use and development of your resources. Some employees might need to be upgraded or moved to different assignments. Or a consultancy could move resources to development and sales in order to evolve and keep up momentum in the company. But this is really only possible if we know what we have.
We have to change the way we think. We should be thinking: "How do I use my resources in the best possible way?" instead of thinking: "How can I save on resources?" There is a big difference. The first action is offensive and optimistic, while the second one is defensive and pessimistic. I understand that the times are extremely challenging, but imagine the possibilities if companies could make full use of their resources instead of wasting them by letting them go.
Companies across the globe are planning deep cuts right now. It would be refreshing if more organisations engaged in their potential for development instead. We all have the potential to get better at what we do, but we all know that the possibilities depend on the way we perceive our situation as well as our options. An efficient ERP system is an important first step in the right direction, but we should keep asking each other the most important question: Are you using your resources in the best possible way?
Deltek creates a natural relation between people and processes in Professional Services Organisations. Providing the basis for overview, follow-up and decision-making in a way which ensures human as well as financial gain; www.deltek.co.uk