When asked to name the top three concerns facing accountancy firms, Ted Mason, CEO of LaPorte, stated ‘people, people, people.’ Whether it’s news of the market-wide capacity problem, skills shortage or the war on talent, a major issue facing the accounting profession today is the lack of resources.
As the more experienced accounting professionals retire and fewer graduates pursue careers in the same field, attracting and retaining the right skills is a growing challenge. With a shift in expectations and a greater priority placed on wellbeing at work, there is an understanding that incoming generations are also less inclined to work the traditionally long hours during busier periods. And for good reason, if we consider that over the past year many within the profession report being burned out amid ‘never-ending stress.’
So with this increasing pressure, how can your firm utilise and retain the resources necessary to deliver on profit and client service, without risking staff burnout?
What is resource utilisation?
In accounting, resource utilisation measures the efficiency of resource usage. In other words, whether the resources that make up the core cost base of the firm are being used to their full potential.
Why is resource utilisation so important?
On the surface, the business risks of inefficient resource utilisation seem straightforward. If overall resource utilisation is too low, your firm will be unable to make a positive return on your people’s time and expertise. On the other hand, if your workforce is over utilised, there is no spare capacity for additional work, leaving your firm unable to take advantage of new opportunities.
In short, getting resource utilisation right is essential to the success and survival of your firm, but finding the right balance between under and over utilisation is a complex optimisation process. To help make this optimisation process easier, here are five ways that intelligent resource management software can help.
1. Look beyond your local team when scheduling resources
One of the biggest opportunities for improving resource utilisation is to schedule your resources across the widest pool of staff possible. By having all of your resources in one scheduling software, you have the option to expand beyond local resource assignment by looking at skills, expertise, and availability at a nationwide and global level. The larger the pool of possible resources, the easier it becomes to smooth out utilisation peaks and troughs by assessing capacity, whether teams are office-based, remote or off-shore. On the individual level, a national or global approach to resourcing can also allow for more opportunities and exposure to projects based on preference or career development goals.
Consider the time and money saved on utilising existing skills and resources from another division, when compared to the cost of recruiting a new team member for a local market or upskilling the existing team. Using this insight also allows resource managers to be more flexible and responsive to changing client requirements.
To truly optimise the potential of the firm’s entire workforce, resource managers can use AI-powered resource management software to zoom out and take a holistic view of the available talent.
2. Track skills and traits to support career development
Across the board, lack of career development is cited as a key driver for employee attrition in accounting. To reduce turnover, it is more important than ever that your firm aligns resource allocation with career development and employee engagement.
A key focus for resource managers is to ensure that clients are provided with the best teams possible, combining industry experience with the right skills and accreditations to ensure maximum quality and efficiency. Equally important, from a retention point of view, is to ensure that staff are fairly and appropriately matched to jobs that align with their motivations, interests, and career development goals.
Dayshape’s skills and traits tracking feature enables firms to keep track of when skills and accreditations were acquired or lost. This means that as individuals are promoted or gain experience over time, these new traits are recorded and reflected in the type of engagement, tasks or industry they are assigned to. This feature can also be used to ensure the right mix of skills and experience on an engagement, allowing junior members the opportunity to learn and the more senior to pass on their knowledge.
Traits can also be used to highlight the types of work that individuals have an interest in, allowing them greater opportunity to be exposed to projects and industries that align with their career goals. By supporting learning and development opportunities, firms can optimise the value of their existing resources, support both retention and succession, and better compete in the current “candidate-led market.”
3. Monitor overall resource utilisation for accuracy capacity planning
Resource managers are ultimately responsible for the effective use of resources and will regularly review and communicate utilisation information to understand overall resourcing requirements. Dayshape’s capacity planning functionality makes it easier to pull this data, understand current and future resource requirements, and make more accurate capacity planning decisions. This visibility allows your firm to maintain a more realistic view of which areas they are over or underutilised and where they need to recruit to determine true resource availability.
From the individual perspective, the more accurate the capacity plan is, the less likely they are to be overbooked or overloaded with work. This gives your team the confidence they need to get on with the job at hand, knowing that they’ll have the right support at the right time.
4. Reduce human bias in resource allocation
Although strides have been taken in recent years, many believe there is a long way to go to solve the diversity problem in accounting. The business benefits of a more diverse and inclusive workplace are far-reaching and have been shown to positively impact overall performance and productivity, staff engagement and retention, client relationships, and firm culture. So when it comes to resource allocation in accounting, eliminating the chance of human bias or favouritism when assigning work is key to support a more fair and inclusive workplace.
An automated resource allocation system can help to reduce the chance of human bias or favouritism by prioritising capacity alongside the best match of skills required for the task. Dayshape’s automated resource allocation functionality allows resource managers to automatically identify the best match of available skills, knowledge, and expertise for an engagement.
By spreading the work in a more fair and even way, there is also less risk of certain individuals or areas being over or underutilised; a balance that will further benefit your business.
5. Measure and use resource utilisation data
Resource utilisation KPIs and metrics should drive key business decisions and provide insights into how well your firm is both deploying and enabling your resources overall. For work planned within Dayshape, the software provides in-depth reporting and utilisation dashboards to monitor and measure metrics on current and forecast utilisation, as well as forecast accuracy. With this insight, your firm can quickly identify and report on resource utilisation issues, make critical staffing decisions, and drive greater efficiencies in the utilisation of your most valuable resource.
The ability to effectively utilise the right resources on the right engagement, at the right time is at the core of every successful accountancy firm. By promoting a more efficient, fair, and accurate way of optimising resource utilisation, Dayshape enables your firm to bring your focus back to a people-first approach to resource management.
Discover how Dayshape can help you improve your firm’s resource utilisation and maximise the potential of your resources through AI-powered resource management.