Why happy clients don't always equal happy staff - Business Works
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Why happy clients don't always equal happy staff

by Fergus Gilmore, UK and European MD, Deltek Happy clients are the backbone of any successful business; but at what cost? While clients are content, overstretched employees may not be. Fergus Gilmore from Deltek tells us how to ensure the right balance of happy clients and an efficient, happy workforce.

Recent research shows that unhappy staff who leave are costing British businesses around £4 billion a year. The report from Oxford Economics reveals that the average cost of replacing a member of staff is £30,614. An eye-watering amount which, if addressed, can be avoided. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are acutely aware their people are their greatest assets, particularly in the Professional Services people-focused sectors such as architecture and engineering, marketing and PR, and consulting and research. Why then are these valuable teams very often overstretched and overworked? In most cases, simply because they are working harder but not smarter.

An unreasonable workload is one of the top reasons overworked and unhappy employees give for their disenchantment. This, in turn, leads to lapses in memory, fatigue, irritability and poor time management. In short, overwork equals a decrease in productivity. The answer? To implement a better way of working, empowering your team to work smarter to deliver an excellent service they enjoy.

Challenges and solutions

So how, in reality, do you achieve this balance? A tangible means of planning, recording and managing how you and your team work is the most robust way to manage your business.

Aspects such as project management, staffing, customer relationship management and risk management are all key areas that you need to ensure are being managed effectively - enabling you to take a more focused approach to running your Professional Services organisation and ensure long-term growth.

Project management

Just think, if your projects are managed sufficiently, your team are enabled to do their job effectively as they know the right amount of resources, time and budget are being allocated to each task. Businesses dealing with increasingly-complex projects leads to an increase in the number of variables and difficulty maintaining visibility and control. Managing projects with control and budget as core focuses ensures a keen eye is kept on profitability and timely delivery - meaning employees know the exact expectations required from them.


Keeping a record of timesheet and expenses information allows you to monitor the time that employees spend on particular projects optimising project management, resource management, cost management and driving profitable behaviour.

Customer relationship management

You might not automatically think CRM capabilities - streamlining marketing, sales, business development and customer relations - play a part in employee relations however in today's business environment competition is fierce. Companies need to move quickly to identify the best clients that fit their business and their staff - as staff keep the cogs of a business turning. Looking at your resources and skill sets and determining the types of clients you can feasibly work with means that the project can be executed to everybody's desired outcome.

Risk management

in reality projects don't behave this way

Accurate forecasting requires consideration of risk. While scheduling and forecasting tools offer a great foundation, you are still making the strong assumption that your scope is 100% accurate and that, regardless of what happens during execution, the project will finish on time. In reality projects don't behave this way. Despite the best-laid plans, every project carries uncertainty and risk that all too often leads to cost and schedule overruns.

Maximising efficiency

Professional Services business owners and executives need clear access and insight into their real-time operations to ensure maximum efficiency and profitability.

Professional Services firms rely solely on their people who are their biggest asset. Work flows, therefore, are multi-dimensional rather than flat. This is why it's so important to measure all of the aspects mentioned above. By ensuring every single transaction is tied to an account, an organisation and a project makes it possible to produce the accurate and timely deliverables that are crucial to any Professional Services business.

After all, it's all about ROI and the bottom line! Steve Slade, finance director at Buro Four, a 100-person consultancy firm, explains that project-based ERP has allowed his company to 'accurately price our client projects, manage project profitability and deliver business information in real time. This has resulted in 2% more turnover for Buro Four by enabling better resource management – which equates to a £200,000 benefit to the business every year.'

You probably already know that investing in new ways of working for long-term sustainable growth makes sound business sense. Better to have happy staff as well as happy clients and £30k in the bank to spend on current resources not recruiting new ones…

For more information about how to make staff happier by improving your business systems, read 'Under the microscope: 7 warning signs that your business system isn't delivering'

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