Instead of prescribing a linear process you should always execute, we hope to inspire you to start a handful of good habits in the day-to-day. Some of these processes are universal, some become more urgent when the company grows.
In a small agency, staffing data lives inside founders’ heads. The staffing meeting is often a discussion inside the company weekly meeting, where everyone is asked if their workload feels fine, and if everything is going ok in the projects. However, decisions rarely happen instantaneously. Regardless of the company size, the majority of staffing happens in discussions instead of in software. From early on, make consultants aware of their time spent in relation to project budgets and help them understand how it affects the business. Every hour counts!
When headcount grows, it’s essential for everyone to have visibility on who’s doing what. Companies start to manage allocations and projects in a common system. Most often this is an Excel spreadsheet. Staffing starts to take more time and it might be that there’s an explicitly reserved spot for it in the weekly recurring agenda. At this point, a staffing channel often appears in the company communication tool, where new client needs are posted and discussed.
With growth, staffing gets more complex. It’s not only the founders and a bunch of friends working together. Information needs to be distributed efficiently.
Data on consultants, client needs, and projects should optimally be stored in one system for people to be able to find the right information quickly.
Capacity forecasting becomes vital for success. Visibility on the utilization of different competencies should be in a system as the management is unable to manually keep track of what everyone is doing.
Eventually, things start slipping through the cracks as more people are starting who are not familiar with the company’s ways-of-working. Expected allocation starts to diverge from the month-end actuals: something’s leaking and you can’t identify what. By this point at the very latest you should make everyone accountable for their own use of time: make it clear what is expected, but give autonomy on how to get to the end results and guide people when they need it!
Somewhere around 100-200 consultants, the first staffers often appear on the payroll. Staffing becomes a standardized process. Requests from sales should come in a predefined format to run the process efficiently. There should be a codified staffing manifesto – a handful of principles that are shared with everyone for transparency. Companies should have “player cards” for all employees that are regularly updated. Skills, preferences, project and client history: all the relevant staffing information lives here.
Companies scaling beyond 200+ and 500+ employees face these same challenges in more complex forms. No drastically new challenges come in, but the usual suspects are tackled over and over again in different forms.