Time Planning in a Service BusinessApril 23rd, 2009 by Michael Giuffrida
Being in a service business providing computer support and web development, our product is our people’s time. As our technical staff work on many projects and clients within a week, time planning for their weekly schedule is critical to ensure the best possible use of their time as well as the proper availability for emergencies that crop up. To manage that in our world, we have implemented a categorization process for the types of work we perform and track what percentage of our time goes into each type.
To begin, we examined the work we did over a 12 month period and determined that the work was either recurring scheduled, planned projects, or “pop-up” work that occurs during the week that we didn’t know about ahead of time but had to handle. I’ll refer to those types as Scheduled, Project, and Pop-up for the rest of this article.
As expected, the scheduled work we had a pretty good handle on and could calculate how much of our week would be dedicated to that. The piece we had the least control of was the Pop-up work as these types of requests would come from our clients as they had issues or needs that couldn’t wait until their next scheduled visit. While that was unexpected work, we found that on a week to week basis, the percentage of our time that this took was fairly regular. So now we had two of the three variables somewhat accurately calculated. But what about the project work?
In a client oriented network support and web development business, it is unrealistic to expect that your technical people will be 100% billable unless that are working on long term projects or placed full time at a client. We use 80% as a target for our people which helps to account for vacations, personal time, internal meetings and training. With that target, we need to figure out how much Project work we need to fill the gaps between the predictable Scheduled work and the peaks and valleys of the Pop-up work to hit our billable goals.
In planning the workload properly throughout the week, we have increased productivity of the individual engineer’s and developer’s as well as managed the workload to avoid missing SLAs or burning out our staff.
Additionally, proper management of the different work types has led to higher billable ratios and happier workers. All around, it has been a win-win.
Tags: being more productive, calendar scheduling, generating operational efficiencies, increase billable ratio, resource time management, service business scheduling, staff scheduling, time management, time planning