Evolving client expectations. Market shifts and demands. The pressure of making payroll.
When all of these compound on a regular basis, trying to improve profitability might naturally fall last on your priority list. But boosting profits isn’t a singular aim that lives separately from all of your business activity — there are a lot of levers you can pull to make the most of the resources you’ve already invested in.
We’re zooming in on one movable lever: utilization. Read on to find out why it’s such an important metric for a service firm and how we’ve seen busy teams use Accelo to up their billable time without making big structural changes.
Employee utilization is a key driver — and indicator — of efficiency when you provide services. The percentage of billable hours worked relative to total available working hours provides insights into how effectively you’re applying your most valuable capital: human capital.
It follows, then, that understanding and optimizing utilization is not just about maximizing those billable hours without a cap. It’s about striking a balance where your workforce is engaged productively, contributing to business growth without risking burnout or compromising on the quality of work and client service.
Utilization tracking is a great starting point for being able to:
Many business leaders and managers strive for a utilization rate around 80%, but the feasibility of that number depends on many factors, such as team size, project duration and the nature of contracts. There’s a fine line between over- and underutilization. Standing on either side of that line puts your business health at risk.
Service businesses like yours are overlooking utilization as a key component of business efficiency.
As a result of overutilization, they’re experiencing:
➡️ Low team morale
➡️ Decreased client service quality
➡️ More errors
➡️ Increased employee turnover
As a result of underutilization, they’re seeing:
➡️ Subpar profits
➡️ Inefficient business processes
➡️ Increased costs due to excess hiring
➡️ Missed growth opportunities
While both situations are problematic, we find that underutilization is more common. Not taking advantage of skillsets can be detrimental to both your employees’ career fulfillment and your bottom line. Let’s say you run an agency. Sarah is your go-to for social media content creation, ad strategy and web page optimization. Jamal excels in customer support and swift ticket resolution. At 65% utilization, you have a handicap out of the gate. 35% of their potential contributions are untapped, representing additional revenue that could fuel your business growth.
Furthermore, Sarah and Jamal are probably experiencing a stagnation of their skills and individual career growth, making them less invested and less likely to innovate, contribute to higher client satisfaction and drive service expansion.
Very few people in the world are trained to walk a tightrope blindfolded, and you're essentially attempting it sans training if you keep running a business without true resourcing insights. You’re making critical decisions based on guesswork. In today’s competitive market, feeling your way along won’t cut it.
In our interactions with thousands of professional services providers, we’ve seen firsthand that having accurate utilization data is not a luxury. A robust platform that tracks time and activity and compiles data about your billable and non-billable work removes the blindfold and provides a safety net so you can spend your resources wisely.
Accelo’s automated time-tracking features and scheduling and utilization dashboards offer a comprehensive solution if you’re ready to understand your resource utilization.
In the platform, you’ll be able to see every minute your team logs on administrative and client work, broken down by billable and non-billable time and summarized according to the billable value and cost per employee.
Then, you can review how everyone’s time fits together on the Schedule Dashboard. Using the Team View, you’ll see each person’s schedule and utilization. With the Work View, you’ll see how work is allocated to projects, tickets, retainers and more.
The Utilization Dashboard conveniently segments your team’s time into key categories: billable, non-billable, estimated, scheduled, external, committed, auto-scheduled and leave.
One advantage of Accelo over other work management solutions is that you can filter data through a set of rules and date ranges, giving you the specificity you need for various parameters and periods of time.
Having the above at-a-glance data and even more in-depth reports will help you understand the interplay of client demands and workload so you can keep your balance. Below are three positive impacts Accelo users have experienced as a result of having the platform’s consolidated, real-time data on hand.
By enabling teams to easily prioritize billable work, Accelo has gifted many businesses a tangible shift in focus and productivity. Employees understand how their performance directly impacts the company’s health.
“Accelo has helped our agency manage the capacity of our teams and assisted with resource management through reporting tools and team schedules. It has also enabled our team members to track time quickly and accurately in a variety of ways (daily or weekly) that suit different employees' preferences. This has enabled accurate individual utilization tracking, as well as keeping track of the scope of retainers and projects.” - Shannon B.
Managers across all industries have been able to see a clear picture of team utilization, making it easier to identify bottlenecks and correct issues promptly.
“I am able to solve the maximum number of hours I can resource somebody out. It’s a great tool to see my coworkers’ schedule and figure out if they have time to complete a task.” - G2 Reviewer
For teams that use Accelo, reallocation of resources has become a strategic move rather than a reactionary one.
“We were looking for a tool to help us understand where our employees’ time goes — both on an internal as well as client level. With our data now transparent, we're able to understand and benchmark our profitability rates, our team utilization and capacity, our sales funnel, as well as what are the big operational costs of running our agency that require improvements.” - Mina T.
➡️ Read how structural engineering firm Gamcorp achieved 85–90% utilization consistently with a combination of Accelo’s time-saving features and automatic data generation.
Witness Accelo’s time and utilization insights in action: Take a tour of the platform.