Resource forecasting for professional services firms

Discover how resource forecasting helps professional services firms manage their client projects and allocate resources effectively.
January 29, 2024
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Ajay Kumar

Imagine juggling client deadlines, resource availability, and project profitability all at once.

You are constantly worried about dropping the ball and have little or no time left to focus on other tasks. This is just a day in the life of professional services teams.

So, how do you go from worrying about dropping the ball on deadlines and profitability to predicting  future workload and perfectly aligning people with projects?

Enter resource forecasting, the crystal ball for professional services success.

It is about anticipating the skills and hours needed to deliver delightful client work, ensuring you're never short-staffed or overstretched.

This article will give you all the details on resource forecasting and how it can transform your firm's performance. Ready to say goodbye to frantic scrambling and hello to smooth sailing? Let's dive in.

What is resource forecasting?

Resource forecasting is a process that involves predicting future resource requirements of a project or a business based on various data points and using analytical tools.

Resource forecasting for professional services firms

Resource forecasting is a predictive process used by professional services firms to determine the quantity and type of resources required to fulfill future projects. This technique allows organizations to visualize and plan their workload effectively by considering variables such as project deadlines, resource availability, skill sets, and potential risks.

Resource forecasting for professional services firms includes:

  • Estimating the number of staff needed for a specific project
  • Predicting the duration of a project
  • Forecasting the type and number of resources needed
  • Anticipating potential challenges and planning for them in advance

By predicting the need and availability of resources, professional services firms can optimize their operations, reduce waste, improve customer service, and increase profitability.

Importance of resource forecasting for project and resource management

Resource forecasting plays an indispensable role in project and resource management for several reasons.

  • It helps in predicting resources needed for future projects, thus preventing resource scarcity.
  • With proper resource forecasting, firms can schedule projects more accurately, reducing the likelihood of project overruns.
  • It promotes the efficient use of resources, reducing unnecessary costs and waste.
  • Accurate resource forecasting can enable the firm to take on new projects with confidence, effectively boosting its growth trajectory.

Benefits of resource forecasting

Resource forecasting is an invaluable practice for professional services firms, and its advantages are wide-ranging - from optimized resource allocation to improved stakeholder alignment. Resource forecasting helps professional services firms:

1. Optimize resource utilization and allocation

One of the primary benefits of resource forecasting is optimal resource utilization and resource allocation. With resource forecasting, professional services firms have the ability to anticipate their resource needs and adjust assignments accordingly, without over or underutilizing resources. This can lead to more balanced workloads, increased productivity and efficiency, and a reduction in unnecessary expenses.

2. Manage project timelines, budgets, and deadlines

Resource forecasting provides necessary insights for effectively managing project timelines, budgets, and deadlines. With accurate forecasts, businesses will be able to control costs and avoid costly overruns. It also helps accurately predict project completion times and ensure deadlines are met without compromising on customer satisfaction.

Sloan Pettersen shares how you can scale and automate your business without compromising on customer experience.

3. Align stakeholders

A further benefit of resource forecasting is aligning expectations among stakeholders. Clear communication of resource forecasts helps stakeholders understand how resources are being managed. This improves stakeholder collaboration and decision-making as fewer disagreements are bound to arise. Resource forecasting also helps you build a higher level of trust with stakeholders, re-establishing  confidence in you and your services.

A project communication plan is an essential tool to help with your project planning and execution. Learn how to build one or use the free template and get cracking.

4. Enhance client satisfaction

Consistent delivery of projects within budget and time constraints leads to high client satisfaction. With more reliable project outcomes due to accurate resource forecasting, professional services firms can enhance their reputation, foster strong relationships with clients, and ensure repeat business. Clients will be beyond delighted and will appreciate timely execution and higher quality outputs. As an added bonus, good resource forecasting and management leads to transparent billing that also turns into gold stars with clients.

5. Avoid resource shortages and delays

Anticipating possible shortages in resources or potential delays is a big part of resource forecasting. With accurate forecasting, professional services businesses can take proactive measures to minimize shortages and be prepared earlier. Teams can also develop contingency plans to execute during resource crunches and identify potential hurdles early on to reduce the risk of delays.

6. Plug-in revenue leakages

A major benefit that resource forecasting offers for professional services firms is that it helps plug revenue leakages. Firms can identify where they may be losing money and adjust accordingly, which can lead to improved profitability and cost savings. Resource forecasting allows PS firms to have greater control over their financial performance and cut down on unwarranted costs.

Resource forecasting offers significant benefits to professional services firms, supporting effective decision-making and streamlined project management. Employing resource forecasting techniques can bring about a marked improvement in a firm's overall productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

10 key steps to resource forecasting for professional services firms

For professional services firms looking to introduce or implement resource forecasting into their everyday operations, here are 10 easy steps to follow. They will help PS teams to optimally allocate resources, schedule projects accurately, and grow sustainably.

1. Identify project requirements and scope

Start with a clear, comprehensive understanding of the project's requirements and scope. Determine what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be done. Be sure to consider factors such as project timelines, budgets, and anticipated outcomes or deliverables. Make sure to understand your project's scope, i.e., what the specific outcomes or deliverables expected from the project are. Assess the complexity and size of the project. Larger and more complex projects will require more resources.

2. Understand client needs and expectations

Understanding client needs is pivotal for better resource forecasting. Consult with your clients to determine their expectations and requirements. This understanding will help you gauge the quality and quantity of resources needed for the project.

3. Define project deliverables

Professional services teams need to define project deliverables before beginning with resource forecasting. Knowing what needs to be delivered allows you to outline the necessary tasks and challenges that your team will face. Be specific about what each deliverable will entail. Avoid vague descriptions and define the criteria by which success will be measured.

Here are some key pitfalls to avoid when managing your client projects.

4. Estimate resource demand

Estimating resource demand requires critical analyses of the project requirements, deliverables, and tasks. You should spell out the type, quantity, and level of expertise of resources needed. Use work breakdown structures or similar project planning tools to break down tasks into manageable pieces, which can help in estimating resource demand.

5. Analyze project tasks and activities

Conduct a thorough analysis of project tasks and activities. This can help you approximate the effort and time required for each task, which will, in turn, help you forecast resource needs accurately. Make use of a project management software that allows for in-depth task analysis.

Pro-tip: Choose an all-in-one project management software like Rocketlane for your professional services team, so they are not required to move mountains to access information on client projects. Rocketlane allows you to effectively plan, execute, and monitor all your client projects from a single tab, reducing the need for multiple project management tools.

6. Identify resource requirements

Every project demands a particular set of resources and skills based on its nature and complexity. Knowing these needs can help you align the right resources based on skill sets.

7. Assess resource availability and evaluate the current resource pool

Assessing what resources you currently have in your pool and their availability is a significant step. This evaluation will guide you to understand if you need to bring in external resources or if your existing resources can handle the project. Also, take into account your resource's availability to avoid burnout. It also offers a more realistic understanding of resource allocation.

8. Identify resource gaps and potential bottlenecks

Identify any resource gaps and potential bottlenecks in your forecasting. It's better to recognize these early to implement measures that can minimize their impact on project completion. Resource gaps might be in the form of skill shortage, or availability of resources.
They could also occur when a single resource is being over-utilized, leading to potential project delays.

9. Make a contingency plan

Create a contingency plan to recognize potential uncertainties and unforeseen challenges in the forecasting process. By establishing a plan that outlines risks and mitigation strategies, professional services firms can enhance the accuracy of forecasting and ensure resilience in the face of unexpected disruptions. It also allows you to be proactive and contributes to a more robust and effective resource management strategy.

10. Balance resource demand and supply

Effective resource forecasting relies on balancing demand and supply. It ensures professional services organizations can accurately anticipate project resource needs, prevent shortages, and optimize resource utilization. Maintain a balance between resource demand and supply for precision and efficiency in navigating project complexities. The balance optimizes efficiency, improves project delivery timelines, and eventually increases client satisfaction.

Discover strategies and tips to enhance your resource planning and management.

Resource forecasting is a vital process for professional services firms to manage their projects efficiently. By following these steps, firms can ensure they have the right resources on the right projects, leading to improved project outcomes, enhanced client satisfaction, and greater business performance.

Resource forecasting best practices for professional services firms

Understanding your resource capabilities and limitations is the first step towards improving your resource forecasting. This includes recognizing the skills of your team and the capacity of your tools and technology. By having a firm grasp on what is currently available, you enable more accurate forecasting, which leads to better resource management and increased operational efficiency. Resource forecasting helps professional services firms streamline their operations, maximize efficiency, and be well-prepared for whatever future business conditions might throw at them. For successful resource forecasting, here are some best practices to follow:

1. Allocate or soft-block resources in advance

Plan resources ahead of time, even before the project starts. This pre-booking helps in creating an efficient schedule, ensuring that the necessary resources will be available when required. It can also help prevent resource conflicts that can arise from simultaneous projects. Start by identifying the key resources required for each project. Soft-block them in advance.

Pro-tip: With Rocketlane as your resource management tool, you will be able to go one step further in your resource forecasting. Even if you are unsure of who or what resources you will need for a particular project, Rocketlane allows you to create placeholders when you plan and assign tasks. This way, you can prioritize and efficiently manage your projects to ensure crucial ones get the resources they require.

2. Measure utilization

Resource utilization measurement provides insight into how efficiently resources are being used. It helps identify which resources are overused and which ones are underused. Calculating the utilization rates of your resources can help in redistributing workload more evenly and provide data to optimize future resource forecasting.

Here are 7 ways to improve your resource utilization in 30 days.

3. Regularly review and update forecasts

Resource needs are not static; they fluctuate as projects evolve. Regularly reviewing and updating your forecasts can help you stay on top of these changes. This may include:

  1. Adjusting resource allocation based on revised project timelines
  2. Responding to changes in project scope or scale
  3. Ensuring resource availability for unexpected or new projects

4. Utilize resource forecasting tools

Resource forecasting is fundamental for professional services firms to effectively manage projects and allocate resources. While it can be a tricky process, there are some software and tools that will help you with it. They also allow you to track your resource data and identify trends to fine-tune your forecasting abilities. They not only help in anticipating future resource needs but also contribute significantly towards reducing unnecessary expenditure and ensuring project success.

By leveraging these best practices, professional services firms can better manage resources, allocate them effectively, and thus execute projects with higher efficiency and lower resource-related risks.

Try Rocketlane for your resource forecasting

Rocketlane PSA shines as a comprehensive tool designed to optimize resource forecasting for professional services teams. It integrates intelligent resource management and resource allocation to ensure your projects sail smoothly to success.

With data-driven insights, predictive analytics, and visualization tools, Rocketlane allows you to make informed predictions about future resource needs. It also allows you to be predictive with real-time data and forecasting. The platform fosters improved communication, collaboration, and transparency, contributing to increased project profitability. Additionally, Rocketlane offers skill-based matching, time tracking, reporting, and alerts for comprehensive resource management. It empowers you to optimize resources effortlessly and achieve your business goals with its powerful features and user-friendly interface.

In short, Rocketlane takes the guesswork and gruntwork out of resource forecasting, allowing you to focus on what you do best: delivering exceptional client service.

Invest in Rocketlane PSA today and make efficient resource forecasting and management a reality for your professional services team.



1. What is resource forecasting?

Resource forecasting is a process that involves predicting future resource requirements of a project or a business based on various data points and using analytical tools.

2. What is resource forecasting for professional services firms?

Resource forecasting is a predictive process used by professional services firms to determine the quantity and type of resources required to fulfill future client projects. It allows PS teams to visualize and plan their workload effectively by considering variables such as project deadlines, resource availability, skill sets, and potential risks.

3. Why is resource forecasting important for professional services firms?

Resource forecasting allows professional services firms to better manage their resources, ensuring that they have the right people with the right skills available at the right time to meet client demands. This helps optimize resource utilization and improve overall efficiency and profitability.

4. How does resource forecasting work?

Resource forecasting typically involves analyzing historical data, project pipelines, and market trends to estimate future resource requirements. It considers factors like project duration, skill requirements, and resource availability to allocate resources efficiently.

5. What are the benefits of resource forecasting for professional services firms?

Resource forecasting helps firms plan and allocate resources effectively, leading to increased productivity, reduced overhead costs, improved client satisfaction, and better financial performance. It also assists in identifying and addressing potential resource gaps or overloads.

6. Can resource forecasting be automated?

Answer: Yes, resource forecasting can be automated using specialized software tools, like Rocketlane. They help PS teams with their project and resource management and can streamline their process, reduce manual effort, and provide real-time insights for informed decision-making.

7. How does resource forecasting align with other business processes in professional services firms?

Resource forecasting is interconnected with various business processes, including project management, budgeting, recruitment, and performance evaluation. It helps in aligning resource allocation with strategic goals, ensuring efficient project execution, and optimizing overall business operations.

Further reading

  1. Top 20 PSA tools for resource management and project management
  2. Strategies for improving your project's profit margin
  3. How PSA helps drive project profitability
  4. 5 key benefits of adopting PSA software for professional services firms

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Shuvedha Subramaniam
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Marketing analyst @ Rocketlane. An Advocate by choice and a penwoman for the love of it. When the world zips, I like to zoink. Also, being happy by being kind.

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