The software is able to take all of that data and make specific recommendations for resourcing a particular project, as well as alternative models. So when we say “intelligent” resource management, we’re really talking about machine learning applied across different dimensions.
Cappello: It’s worth noting that the bigger an organization grows, the more unpredictable resource management can be. Machine learning can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to taking everything into account and optimizing recommendations. There’s always that human element, because people are still making the decisions—but now with advanced tools.
How does IRM tie into talent development and retention?
Joseph: In professional services, people tend to work on the same projects over and over again. A partner or senior director might keep assigning the same resources, resulting in them being overworked or feeling restricted in their careers. At the same time, new hires or employees with new skills can be overlooked and underutilized, simply because it’s hard to break in. So you wind up with one person who’s burnt out and another who’s languishing on the bench—and neither employee feels like they’re growing.
Machine learning can remove some of the biases to ensure that work is being distributed equitably and that the right talent is being leveraged for the right projects across the enterprise. And because IRM centers on workforce data—including skills, capabilities, and career interests and ambitions—the recommendations are designed to continually stretch and strengthen employee skills. That can be a real competitive advantage in an industry where growth so often takes a back seat to pressing client demands.
Cappello: Talent supply chains have always been critical in professional services. But there’s such a massive talent shortage right now, firms are actively evolving strategies to handle increased work with a decreased workforce. Finding ways to not only deploy the right talent but to also grow existing skill sets is a clear win, in that regard.
For firms looking to elevate their resource management, where should they focus first?
Cappello: I’d point to a few things, but the very first is data accuracy. Good resource management is only possible if you have accurate data about your workforce—that’s really the backbone of any system, regardless of the technology used. We hear from firms who are rushing to assign new hires to projects and so delay onboarding or don’t take a full inventory of their skills. To which I say: Stop it! Without workforce data, your resource management is hampered right from the start.
I’d also suggest taking detailed stock of how your company tracks skills across the workforce. If it’s basically a spreadsheet that’s rarely updated or knowledge that sits inside someone’s head, there’s no question that will prove to be a pain point. Especially with a worker shortage, companies have to know what skills are available and when. Connected, real-time data helps firms optimize the workforce they have and capitalize on new opportunities more quickly.
Finally, I’d look at staffing processes, in regard to resource management. How formal is the process and who’s involved? Do you see high rates of resource hoarding? Are the same people pulling in the same resources, time after time? How does the process align with business needs and goals across the organization? How has it been impacted by the new dynamics of remote or hybrid work?
Joseph: What we’re seeing is that professional services, as an industry, shows little interest in returning to operations as they were a few years ago. Firms are already moving down the path of better understanding who their people are, in order to improve project matching, fill talent gaps, and grow their workforce for tomorrow. And often the best step is simply taking the first step. Get started, and the early benefits you see from IRM can help build momentum on your journey.
To learn more about how Workday helps professional services firms with intelligent resource management and drives digital transformation, visit our website.