Part 4: When your inventory turns the light out each day

In this series, we’re sharing MojoTech’s experiences around creating and using Allocate. We’ve learned a lot about resource scheduling along the way, and hope to help agencies like us with these lessons, too. In Part 4, we'd like to explore the "stocking" challenges of the service business.

Professional services is the ultimate expression of supply and demand. Our inventory is made up of humans, which makes for a much less flexible stocking system. It’s not easy to adjust your supply the same way a physical goods producer would simply order more components or advertise a sale to adjust for the market’s demand.

To account for this inflexibility, you need to plan ahead. Just as important as it is for you to see who is doing what, you need to know who is doing nothing. This is your excess inventory. Just as a widget producer is likely paying storage and interest on his components, you are paying salaries and benefits. However, you can’t exactly have a fire sale on your services. Since you’re working with humans, you need to plan ahead to make sure either everyone is busy, or that staffing changes are in the works.

A physical goods company wouldn’t be able to function without accurate projections of future shipments. Sure, you have time tracking for what’s already been done, but how about a roadmap of your future demand? Allocate gives you a real time view of your inventory, and also allows you to project, so that you know:

  • Upcoming excess availability

  • Upcoming bottlenecks

  • Past team utilization rates

Example: Baxter is unallocated as of January 13th.

  • Give Baxter a “project” called “UNALLOCATED” so that it’s clear to the other managers that this person does not have a client project, and so that you’ll be able to find your underutilized team members quickly.

  • Set the project to not be counted towards utilized time, and give it a special color, like grey.

  • Add the project to any people with upcoming availability you’d like to easily track.

  • Use the filter to find everyone with “UNALLOCATED” scheduled so that you can quickly assign them something else instead. Note that Winston and Emma, with sufficient client work, are removed from this view to help you focus on the team members without billable projects.

→ These “unallocated” resources will help business development know where to sell more aggressively, and will help you prioritize work on your internal projects.

Allocate is a verb for a reason. So schedule your future projects, mark your unutilized people, pay attention to your growth rate and start projecting!

- Erin

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