Resourcing meetings are a common staple within professional services companies. Ran correctly, they're a powerful and efficient way of keeping your projects and people on track.
However, all too often these meetings are disorganized, unmanageable and end up achieving very little.
In our 10 years working on CMap, with a key goal of helping professional services companies make better people decisions, we've seen it all in resourcing meetings: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the 6 most common mistakes of resourcing meetings and – more importantly – give practical advice on how to solve them. These six mistakes are:
- The Project Review Rabbit Hole
- The Accidental All Hands
- The Monthly Overhaul
- The Pipeline Black Hole
- The Pipeline Trawl
- Resourcing in the Dark
#1 - The Project Review Rabbit Hole
The first mistake is the project review rabbit hole. This is where project managers run through the intricacies of every project, every deliverable and all the client interactions they’ve had that week, ensuring everyone knows just how busy they are. This defeats the purpose of a resourcing meeting – no one knows what’s clearly required going forward, and resource isn’t allocated effectively.
The key to solving this problem is being ruthless with the meeting agenda, whereby project managers are kept on a tight leash to cover 3 crucial pieces of information:
- The resource they need
- How long they need it for
- Any blockers in the process
Always keep in mind the aim of resourcing meetings: effective alignment of resource. Anything outside of this scope should be dealt with in a separate meeting.
#2 - The Accidental All Hands
The next common mistake is the accidental all hands. As the name suggests, this is when anybody and everybody in the company is attending the resourcing meeting. Staff are spilling out of the room and into the corridor, or the Zoom call looks like you’re running a webinar.
The solution to this mistake involves two things: (i) a streamlined group of attendees; and (ii) clear authority to make decisions. The meeting should typically be project managers only, with an operational lead who has the authority to step in and resolve any conflicts. The benefits of implementing this tactic are twofold: (i) You can make decisions about resource there and then because everyone attending has the authority to do so; and (ii) because the group is streamlined, this ensures a strict agenda can be followed and most of your project team is freed up to focus on their jobs – working on projects.
#3 - The Monthly Overhaul
Resourcing meetings can sometimes be seen as secondary to other meetings. You decide there are “too many meetings” and push the meeting out to once a month rather than once a week. Instead, you make isolated, ad-hoc resourcing decisions on disconnected email threads or in passing on your lunch break. Each of those isolated decisions might make total sense for each project… but in aggregate they can cause car crash after car crash for your projects, people, and clients. The monthly resourcing meeting subsequently descends into an overhaul of every project with huge disruption.
The solution? Little and often. Holding weekly meetings allows you to tweak and refine your resourcing strategy in line with project needs as and when they occur, and you stop making decisions in isolation and start making them holistically.
#4 - The Pipeline Black Hole
Another common mistake is only addressing live projects, rather than also factoring in pipeline. If you’re only considering live projects, it’s inevitable that from time to time you’ll be blindsided by resourcing requirements hidden in your pipeline.
It’s therefore crucial to have half an eye on pipeline projects too in the resourcing meeting. Consider which pipeline projects need some element of ‘pre-sales’ involvement e.g.– attending a pitch, support in drafting a document, etc. Also consider which pipeline projects might be won imminently and will require staffing straight away.
Read more about how to factor in pipeline into your resourcing strategy here.
#5 - The Pipeline Trawl
Almost as bad as not mentioning any pipeline projects is mentioning every project in your pipeline. A resourcing meeting is NOT a pipeline review meeting and shouldn’t be treated as such.
To tackle this mistake, you should only cover the resourcing implications of imminent and real pipeline projects. Whether a pipeline project is “real” or “imminent” should be based on two factors:
- Probability of project win (set your own, but e.g 75%+)
- Project start date (again set your own, but e.g. kicking off in the next 4 weeks)
If a project meets both of these criteria, it should be discussed in the resource meeting. Beyond that, a separate pipeline review meeting should be held where you look at all types of projects in your pipeline, regardless of win probability or start date. That way, you ensure the discussion takes place in the right forum, with the right people, who are really focusing on how to convert your pipeline and win more work.
#6 - Resourcing in the Dark
A discussion in your resourcing meeting may highlight the requirement for further resource on a particular project. Before blindly throwing more resource in, make sure to check the project budget beforehand. If not, you may end up overcommitting and reducing project profitability.
To mitigate this risk you can include a sense-check of forecasted recovery rates as you allocate resource, and, where needed, identifying actions to turn things around. If recovery rates aren’t in line with your expectations, you can consider delivering the project with a cheaper resource or having a conversation with the client about the fee. Effective foresight and planning in your resourcing meetings can help guide you through these actions.
Resourcing meetings are a useful tool in your professional services arsenal, that keep projects on track and maximize utilization. They are, however, not without their pitfalls, and common mistakes can arise if they’re not planned carefully and executed properly. Implementing a consistent, well-planned meeting can help save time, energy and money, and getting the process right should be a priority for you and your business.
If you want more information on how to implement an effective resourcing strategy, download our free whitepaper: Resource Capacity vs. Demand: Mastering the Six Forces.
In this guide, you’ll discover how to master the six forces of resource capacity vs demand and learn the key factors influencing this equation. Topics covered include:
- How a view of live and pipeline projects can be combined to provide clarity on future resourcing demand.
- Factors to consider when choosing between internal and external resource, what the optimum balance looks like.
- How roles and skills impact capacity and demand decisions, and how you can effectively audit skill sets within your teams.
- Tips on dealing with peaks and troughs in workload and how you can adjust your staffing levels to deal with this.