"We were in for a shock..."

 |  By: Steve Johnson In: Agency management | Managing resource | Growth and scalability

"Gut instinct isn't always right"

How good is your business judgement? For example, do you think you have a pretty good handle on utilisation levels in your business?

One management team is honest enough to concede that it was found wanting in that respect...

“We previously used another system, but it didn’t give us the information needed.”

...says Sara Blannin, Finance Director of ECUS, a project-based business with over 50 people.

“Decisions therefore had to be made more on gut instinct than data. For example the old system didn’t give accurate utilisation rates, so we made assumptions.

"Some of those turned out to be wrong.”

“You need to accept that being busy isn’t the same as being profitable. People can be busy on the wrong things. She summarised it in this way:

"Gut instinct isn’t always right.”

Sara emphasises that you have to get a grip on utilisation.

“Without a proper system you simply can’t know your true utilisation percentage.

"When we installed Synergist we were in for a shock:

"In some cases, our utilisation was more than 10% worse than we had thought. That makes a huge difference.”

It's unsettling to realise that your hunches might be wrong. Of course in many cases you can't do much about it. Your business management system can't advise you on choosing a new employee or making a creative decision. But it can give you insights on dozens of crucial key performance indicators, and utilisation is one of them. What's more, they don't come much more crucial than that one, yet it's one that's peculiarly difficult to guess at.

Says Sara: “Utilisation is a lot easier to manage now. No more surprises.

"In forward planning we can finesse each area better now.

"Targeting, utilisation planning and recruitment decisions are easier now for the team managers to handle – it’s all transparent.”