Resource Planning in the Opportunity Phase
The hallmark of a successful business development (BD) team is creating solid, accurately priced proposals — priced to win the bid while ensuring project profitability. To get that pricing right and, in turn, ensure profitability, the BD team must have a complete understanding of the resources available for that project and the organization must understand future resource needs if an opportunity closes.
This blog will explore how resource planning intersects with business development. We will discuss why the sales and services teams historically have not always gotten along, and paint a picture of an alternate reality where collaboration yields success and happiness all around.
A Tense Sibling Relationship
Those involved in BD must be able, among other things, to make sure they are bidding on an opportunity that the organization has the right resources to support. Achieving that, however, may not always be as easy as it sounds.
Like lions and hyenas, sales and services have been longtime enemies, or at the least, tense sibling rivals. The job of the sales team is to close business deals for the company. The more business the team brings in, the more money the company makes. That, of course, means that the sales team is under a lot of pressure to close those deals and bring in more business.
But here’s the challenge. The sales group is essentially making promises on behalf of the services team. These promises, more often than not, revolve around such things as pricing, delivery dates, and available resources with the perfect skill sets.
Once the deal is signed, the burden shifts to the services team to make good on the promises that the sales team has made. In worst-case scenarios, the services team picks up the ball and is immediately in reactive mode, scrambling to realign resources – sometimes even cutting from existing projects – to meet promises made by the sales team.
What if the services team does not have the resources available to meet the promises mapped out within the contract? A whole lot of bad things can happen, including both direct and indirect impacts to the organization:
- Direct financial impacts of not having the right resources available include spiraling the project from profitable into unprofitable. Margins erode when you have to use expensive resources or give away free hours because of under‐scoped aspects of the project, and your revenue might get pushed.
- Indirect impacts can include poorly run projects, customer dissatisfaction, and overworked resources. Those impacts can lead to increased attrition of both employees and customers.
And there’s another negative impact: continued animosity between the lions and hyenas. If the sales team keeps promising things that the services team struggles to deliver, neither group is going to be happy with the other.
Collaborating Through Resource Planning
Now it’s time to imagine a different reality. What if sales and services teams could work collaboratively through the help of a resource planning solution? Everyone wins – and that includes the customers! For the ultimate in successful delivery of projects, that collaboration has to begin long before the deal is signed.
What’s in it for the services team?
The services team is tasked with completing the job and keeping the promises that the sales team made to the customer. Accomplishing that requires that the right resources with the right skills are available at the right time.
That said, at any given moment, the current levels of your organization’s staffing and skills may not satisfy the needs of the business even three months from now, let alone six months or one year down the road. Resource needs and availability create a whole laundry list of questions.
- How do we plan and make the best choices to hire and train?
- Do we know how many people we will need, and when we will need them?
- Are some large projects potentially coming up?
- When will resources fall off major projects and be prepared to tackle new work?
- What kinds of projects are filling up our pipeline?
In order to make informed decisions, services needs visibility into the sales pipeline, and that need goes far beyond an understanding of what’s closing this month. The services team must have a long-term vision that looks months and quarters into the future.
In addition to the general state of the pipeline, the services team must have visibility into the type of work being proposed. That includes details such as an overview of the proposed project, the skills and certifications required to perform the work, project length, and more.
Visibility is precisely what you’ll get with good resource planning. If your organization enables this type of collaboration across teams — from the BD team to the services team — you can make highly informed tactical and strategic decisions far in advance.
Getting the Right Resource on the Right Projects with Resource Planning
Attend this upcoming Vision Solution Speed Session!
What’s in it for the sales team?
While some sales folks prefer to work independently from the rest of the organization, it’s far more beneficial to collaborate with other teams, such as services. Why? The answer is simple: information. Other parts of the organization have information that can help the sales team more effectively shape, price, and present a winning bid.
Take pricing, for example. This may be the most critical part of your proposal. From a win/loss perspective, if the bid is too high it will not win, but if the bid is too low, it may not be taken seriously. From a profit perspective, if the bid is too low — but becomes the winning contract — the project may lose money. But, again, bid too high and you may not win the chance to bring home those higher profits. But you can’t simply make a “guesstimate.”
Same goes for the timeline proposed in your bid, and the personnel. You’ve got to find that sweet spot where your proposal is realistic and competitive but still profitable. That’s tough to do without good information.
By using resource planning in the opportunity phase of the project lifecycle, the BD team gets visibility into staffing and planning for all prospective opportunities across the organization. That includes all current bids, as well as all current (and closing) projects.
In a nutshell, by integrating your sales pipeline system with a resource management and planning system, you can achieve a better understanding of resource impacts, both short‐ and long‐term.
Taking Value to the Next Level
Resource planning doesn’t simply mean managing today’s work. By knowing what future resource needs are, organizations can plan for those projects and have resources ready or hire if they need to. By identifying skills that the organization may not have been fully aware of, you can create new market opportunities for tomorrow. Resource planning can make this happen.
Integrating your sales pipeline with your resource planning system gives you the necessary information and confidence to bid on new types of work and a wider range of projects. You’re in a much stronger position to succeed with new bids, because you already know if you can fulfill a project, should you be selected.
It truly is a win‐win‐win situation, one that helps to ease friction between different parts of your organization and lay the groundwork for greater success.
To learn more about what Deltek has to offer, visit the Vision Resource Planning page, or register for our Vision Solution Speed Session Getting the Right Resources on the Right Projects with Resource Planning.
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