Runner handing over the relay baton to a teammate

Resource Allocation: Handover From Sales to Delivery

Matti Parviainen

There are different handovers in a professional service business. The work traverses all the way from the client’s brainchild to a potential deal, an effort estimate, and finally a project that’s active. These handovers are key points where you can either make sure information is passed on to the next parties efficiently or set the project up for a failure.

The sales phase

A sales discussion has been initiated with the sales person and they start generating an understanding of the client’s needs. This understanding often materialises in working documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. To make sure information is shared with more than one person from the get-go, it makes sense to take an expert, a consultant, to plan the project with the sales person. Optimally, this consultant will have a part in the project later on.

Rough planning, sharing the big picture between sales & delivery

Once the sales phase goes on long enough, capacity planning becomes a relevant issue: what if we actually win this project? At this point, the deal should pop up in a common dashboard that sales, delivery, and consultants have an access to. In Operating, this is called the Horizon.

The sales team should optimally fill out the bare minimum of details on the project there: what are the roles & skills needed, what’s the estimated starting date etc. They might even set the initial workload estimates to share their understanding of the schedule. Optimally, the client & budgetary information comes automatically from the CRM. You don’t want to input things twice in different systems. Operating integrates e.g. with HubSpot and Pipedrive.

At this point, everyone’s painting with broad strokes. However, if the client asks for a detailed workload estimate already in the sales phase, it makes sense to create that in a resource allocation system instead of a spreadsheet. This helps the company gather data on projects: average size, length, budgets etc. that help out in longer term. Also, the plans are accessible by everyone, and not hidden in spreadsheets.

Handing over from sales to delivery

The client now says we choose you! At this point, at the latest, you need to make a more detailed plan and figure out who’s suitable for the work. If you have a good system and process in place, the sales people can find the right people based on skills easily and have the discussions with them directly. However, often you might need a head resource management or head of staffing who’s savvy in utilising the tool and finding the right people. This is especially true for larger organisations: a system can’t replace the human touch, but it can make the handovers effortless and efficient.

At this point, sales & the heads of delivery are often still in charge of editing and adding tentative workloads for consultants.

OPERATING METHOD: It’s a good practice to create a common project staffing related channel to your communication tool of choice at this point and have all the discussions so that you’ll keep a message trail.

At this point, there’s often a short discussion between sales & the delivery team:
- What’s the project about?
- Is there more to these roles than we see here in the system?

  • Where’s the proposal document and are there more detailed workload estimates in place already?
  • Which part of the team has already been locked?
  • Etc.

After this, sales will most likely diverge into more detailed contractual negotiations, while the project track starts to take shape separately. The delivery team is now in charge of staffing the project. After the right people are found and the deal is sealed, sales and delivery communicate about the project kickoff date.

Handing over to the project team

Before the project kickoff, it’s good to have a pre-kickoff internally. Sales, staffing, and the project team should join. Sales should shed light on the context of the project: why was the project initiated? What’s the client after? What’s the agreed budget and project type etc. The client often has inexplicit needs not written on the proposal documents. You might want to make your client look good in the eyes of their organisation, and help them succeed. This is part of what being a trusted advisor is.

Together with delivery, and using a shared view on the workload estimates, the team should go through the plan together so everyone understands what’s expected.

At this point, the team can explicitly confirm the project in their resource allocation system, and transfer the responsibility of updating the allocation forecast to individual project team members. Optimally, every consultant is in charge of updating their own plans: people can re-assess their near-term workloads while keeping their long term forecast the same. If the actual hours spent reveal deviances from the planned allocations, consultants should edit their allocations accordingly. This helps reveal hidden availability and will help people in charge of budgets and project staffing to make the right decisions.

Operating Method: Creating a capacity forecast bottom-up from project tasks is busywork, which we despise. Teams should detail plans only within the project. A consultant's rough estimate is enough for forecasting and staffing. Don't overengineer; focus on delivering great results.

We recommend having allocation planning as a weekly routine for all consultants and other team members alike. A good practice is to update one’s allocations e.g. every Friday. When the resourcing team usually has their weekly meeting on Monday, the allocations are up-to-date. This sounds a bit boring, but there’s no replacing of a well-oiled bottom-up process. Explain to your people why this is so important.

For example: The client might ask for more work directly from the consultants. Consultants can mark tentative project continuations or upsells to the system themselves. The account manager can then see all the tentative allocations needs on an account level and have the commercial discussions with the right parties. Everyone can join in creating the future capacity forecast!

It’s the project managers job then to assess if things are going according to plan on project level, while account managers look on budgets and forecasts on client level.


The blog post discusses the critical handovers in a professional service business, highlighting the transition of projects from initial client discussions to active project stages. These handovers ensure smooth information transfer and project success. The sales phase involves initial client needs assessment and project planning with consultants. As the project progresses, sales and delivery teams collaborate on capacity planning using shared dashboards. Upon project confirmation, a detailed plan is created, and resource allocation is managed through effective communication channels. The final handover involves pre-kickoff meetings to align all team members on project expectations, with continuous resource allocation updates ensuring project and budget adherence.

  • Sales Phase: Involves initial client needs assessment and planning with consultants.
  • Sales to Delivery Handover: Focuses on detailed planning and resource allocation through communication channels.
  • Project Team Handover: Includes pre-kickoff meetings and continuous resource allocation updates for project adherence.
Matti Parviainen photo

Matti Parviainen is the chief product officer at Operating. He's trained hundreds of consultants on what it means to build trust, earn the right to advise, and how to build relationships.


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