when delivering on critical client projects, consider delivery of talent first

November 8, 2015 Richard Cogswell
a managed service program can help you win more deals and remain agile during project peaks and troughs

part 1 of 2

When your organization depends on project delivery as a core source of revenue, your supply of skilled, experienced contract labour is key — key to effective running of your project, to minimizing cost overruns or poor delivery, to a happy client, and to a well-oiled cash flow.

Project demand can lead to extreme peaks and troughs of hiring. Within a spiking workload  environment, one could be forgiven for concentrating purely on the hiring process. However, consider how expensive and inefficient this is.

Today, many companies use spreadsheets or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to plan project delivery and allocate resources, meaning that credible visibility across the business can be difficult to achieve. These approaches tend to create “silos” of information specific to individual business units and/or different functions. The more complex the company or geography, the bigger the problem. Most spreadsheeted approaches also lack forecasting and reporting functionality. 

How many organizations have carefully looked at their contingent workforce supply holistically — breaking down the process by starting with the initial sale through to manning and considering each project with a view towards building a more connected and sustainable process?

A managed services program (MSP) is a model that can do this by:

  • Providing compiled and accessible data to support your sales and bid teams win more business and improve your sales conversion ratios through additional differentiation from your competition (Current project readiness state)
  • Providing heat maps of current capability and GAP analysis of missing skills for upcoming projects (Identifying repeatable job families and hiring plans early in the piece)
  • Enabling more efficient sourcing and hiring strategies
  • Facilitating retention of core IP from project to project
  • Eliminating emergency “hiring from the hip” and expensive agency spend

Let’s examine some of the critical steps in your approach to projects and how an MSP can help you better manage the talent to successfully deliver on milestones and overall goals.

start with sales

Project-based companies, without exception, exist within highly competitive industries. It is not unusual to look at an industry and find many companies essentially battling to attract from the same limited supply of talent. Whether it is a driverless train signalling expert, a cloud network security analyst, or a Big Data analyst, there is huge demand and not enough experience/skills to go around.

A huge premium is paid for effective sales people within these companies for the same reason. Regularly winning deals against all shapes and sizes of competitor is tough. So what if you used your MSP to help your sales teams further differentiate to beat the competition?

How many RFP responses show an effective readiness state to potential buyers? Imagine if you were able to demonstrate to your client not only your project plan but your entire workforce plan and current readiness state, including your hiring plan for missing resources for the project you are bidding on. Anecdotally, you could increase your win ratio by some 30%. Project risk is a key component of buying decisions, the proof of a capable, experienced team ready to go at a specific start point eliminates a weight of risk from any purchase. Clear visibility and effective management of your contingent workforce therefore provides a compelling advantage. 

In today’s business environment your clients will make investment decisions based on your ability to affect positive outcomes. This is not only about how well you know that client and the skilled resources you have at your disposal but also their retained project IP and readiness to deploy efficiently, thereby enhancing project success factors. The difference between tender award or failure can be how you have presented your capability to staff a project.

So how can an MSP help? The program typically covers the entire life cycle of all or part of an organization’s contingent labour program. The starting point can provide analytical insights to the current workforce patterns. Often known as “heat mapping,” your MSP provider can draw up capability and availability matrices with identified gaps, allowing you to plan accordingly. 

managing project demands

How can you flatten hiring peaks and troughs? Given that even the best-laid plans can go awry, many project-focused companies can find themselves falling into a fire-fighting mentality if too many projects are running at the same time. Managing project demands in a structured way can lead to the next level of operational excellence with business impact across-the-board, propelling visibility and results throughout the enterprise. 

Post-project, an organization often focuses on releasing costly, non-utilized assets, but this can make the job of scaling to the next project harder.

Demonstrating talent readiness not only helps you win more deals but it also provides a GAP analysis early on, enabling you to come up with a sourcing and hiring plan. Given that 70% of professionals are not actively looking for job opportunities, it is vital you source effectively to find and engage potential candidates. An MSP can help by providing access to quality talent. Because managed service providers work with a larger supply base than most employers can do so on their own, these solutions deliver a high caliber of candidates within a shorter space of time.

In the second part of my blog, I’ll explain the importance of retaining project IP and how to make your employer brand help you attract the talent you seek.

about the author

Richard Cogswell

Richard, regional client solutions director, APAC and is responsible for leading Global Client Solutions working with our global and regional clients. Richard has more than 18 years of sales and business development experience spanning a number of senior roles in MNCs and startups ranging from IT to logistics to outsourcing.

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