Professional Services Firm tackles unique Workforce Planning needs with SAP Analytics Cloud
Professional Services (ProServ) firms are built fundamentally around people. They cover a wide range of technical expertise and services, specializing in anything from business consulting, accountancy, financial services, advertising, legal, public relations, and architecture. In order for firms like these to be successful, they need to have enough people available to serve their clients while also not spending on salaries that are underutilized. As a result, workforce planning is one of the most powerful tools companies can harness to effectively manage and execute strategic steps to drive significant business results in an increasingly competitive market.
Companies face many challenges when it comes to effective workforce planning. It is too common a practice for Finance and Human Resources to do their planning in silos, with little to no collaboration. Unfortunately, this siloed approach does not allow Finance teams to see the impact that headcount or salary adjustments have on financial forecasts. Additionally, spreadsheets are still widely used for HR planning, which makes it difficult to adjust drivers and perform “what-if” scenarios based on varying rates, new hires, compensation adjustments, etc. By relying on spreadsheets, visualization through charts and graphs is difficult to craft and to drill into details by location or department. Populating spreadsheets with actuals and circulating files around to collect forecasts is not a long-term, feasible solution, and there is an urgent need for ProServ firms to remedy this outmoded approach.
NIMBL has been able to alleviate professional services firms’ unique workforce planning challenges with SAP S/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), as well as their workforce payroll systems (including, but not limited to ADP, Workday, and Oracle HCM). SAP’s solutions, along with workforce payroll systems, allow HR planning and financial forecasting to be done in one single platform, which promotes collaboration and planning across an enterprise. We recently implemented a workforce planning solution using SAC for one of our clients, who like so many ProServ companies, were experiencing the need for a collaborative workforce planning system to align their planning at the company level -- whereas previously, they had individual departments in charge of their own workforce planning.
To meet the company’s workforce planning goals, NIMBL developed a customized workforce planning model and dashboard inside SAP Analytics Cloud that expanded upon the ERP’s master data with additional dimensions that were added based on their company needs, like employee level and clients that guide their work projects. Being able to customize the data to match the company’s business parameters provided new levels of detail on their project’s values and greater insight into the allocation to Operating Expense and Depreciation Expense for different finance departments.
Fig 1: Workforce Planning Dashboard
In Figure 1, you can see in the first “Inputs” window, that there are multiple inputs that leverage SAC’s powerful data capabilities and allow the system to use the various data points to drive valuable insights for staffing and scheduling. Within the model we built are dynamic calculations based on specific drivers that can be easily adjusted through the inputs, causing on-the-fly results. The company no longer needs to adjust drivers through a hefty excel file or a long formula, where the risk of human error is high. Using SAC prevents siloed spreadsheets and centralizes all inputs, drivers, and calculations into a single system.
Graphs are easily available in SAC and give a snapshot of how headcount, total revenue, and average utilization trend during the year. To delve deeper into the data, users can click on the report and the system takes them to the detailed reporting page. With SAC’s easy-to-use builder panels, users can create ad-hoc tables and graphs that pull in any dimensions and measures they wish without needing to dig through various spreadsheets to find the key figures because everything is housed in one system.
Because NIMBL understands that making a complete shift away from Microsoft Excel is difficult for any business, we leveraged SAC’s Excel add-on for users to easily build reports in Excel. This provides users with the best of both worlds: they can continue to work in Excel where they are comfortable, but their data quality is exponentially better because it comes straight from the data model, rather than using manual inputs or lengthy formulas.
Being a growing, global consulting firm, NIMBL is passionate about helping ProServ companies reap the benefits of workforce planning and forecasting and helping them make more informed decisions based on their company’s past and current data trends. To learn more about SAP Analytics Cloud and see all of its powerful capabilities in action, request a live demo from NIMBL today!
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