Utilization - Not just for Professional Services

Over the last 20 years my career has been rooted in professional services.  As anyone knows, professional services is all about time.  The only inventory you have is the time of the people that you have on your team.  Efficient uses of time result in a thriving organization, non-efficient uses of time result in an underperforming organization.  The traditional benchmark for time billed to a customer is 70%, meaning that a minimum of 28 hours per week should be spent on deliverables for the customer.  There are multiple factors that can increase this or decrease this number, but it is a good overall average for the organization.

I find it interesting that although these items are well known and measured in professional services, they normally don’t get the same attention in traditional enterprises.  I understand that since each hour does not equate to revenue it becomes less of a priority, but I still see the ability for performance improvement.  Can time be better spend doing a task another way, does an individual need training because they take longer to perform a function, is the team spending time doing non-productive tasks that management could remove?

Regardless of industry we are moving to a knowledge economy.  Tasks are becoming more automated and the weight that an organization puts on the cognitive skills of their team is increasing at a rapid rate.  With the knowledge economy driving almost every industry, the way our teams spend their time is of upmost importance.  Understanding how to improve efficiency, modify training, and hire correctly is the lifeblood of the organization.