{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Why do consulting firms not take a more active role in managing staff utilization? It seems like every woman for herself out there and a lot of wasted time/energy and unnecessary anxiety. Why?", "post_id": "5b33fa7164d6050018c08eab", "reply_count": 26, "vote_count": 1, "bowl_id": "5902937c77e26a00105a5bd9", "bowl_name": "Partner One" }

Why do consulting firms not take a more active role in managing staff utilization? It seems like every woman for herself out there and a lot of wasted time/energy and unnecessary anxiety. Why?

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I, an SC for one, love the flexibility of being able to navigate towards certain projects rather having them forced down on me

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We have resource managers that help with that if you're tapped out on your network. I think it's a way to weed out those that aren't cutout for partnership as there is heavy networking through this process and that is how most of the sales is done.

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We do. EY has dedicated resource managers that are responsible for ensuring we appropriately staff projects and our people are aligned to their fast balls and interests. They also help us tap into other groups when we are sold out. In addition, most groups I know have regular utilization and staffing calls. I was on one for an hour today. I think there will always be an element of tapping people on the shoulder for a project - we are a people business heavily relying on our relationships and brand management. So yes, you need to know people in this job to be successful, especially as you move through the ranks. I feel that is a cornerstone of our profession. Databases can only take you so far as they do not account for things like cultural fit, which is critical, or personality and working style, which impacts the overall team dynamic. If your frustration is with not getting picked up on a project, then my suggestion would be to expand your network. I don’t think that has to include drinking on the road with a PM. I get calls from people all the time introducing themselves and their skill set to me and I pick them up. I would also suggest reaching out to your counselor/coach and asking for their support and introductions. Good luck!

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Huron is mostly centrally managed. Zero stress in finding a project.. yes, not a lot of choice at lower levels though.

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I think Deloitte1 has a good part of the answer- if you aren't good enough at networking and demonstrating value to find a way onto a project that needs you, you're not going to last long anyway. The other part is that it puts some of the onus on the individual to always be out there hustling to demonstrate that value rather than wasting time when on the bench. At KPMG we also have resource managers who are working hard to find available people work but that honestly a terrible way to get assigned work because it's not going to be your ideal project that way (their job is to keep utilization up, not to get you your dream gig), so if you really care about your own career path you need to be the one driving that. B4 is pretty different from MBB is this regard and I won't say I love it but I do think it's the right approach for companies our size and price point.

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Your responses have all been very informative. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with me. It’s always good to have exposure to diverse perspectives.

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So is there someone at each consulting firm who knows the skill sets of every single person? I see the databases but then I also hear things like I never got a project through an open requisition I got every project from just knowing people. My husband is in consulting and he also has always just got staffed from knowing folks. So if you don’t know the right people you’re out of luck? And just because your buddy from the last project is kind of qualified doesn’t mean there might be a BETTER fit sitting on the bench getting underutilized because they didn’t spend the last X months drinking on the road with the PM. It seems very fragmented and that it lends itself to talent hoarding.

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Totally the opposite here, where people complain they don’t have enough say in where they’re staffed.

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We have staffing managers who do this for us, and I really think it makes a difference in culture. We do get say on the case we want - as well as an advocate for us when we need some beach time. Realize this is made possible because we aren’t on a utilization model...it’s more PD oriented (“this person wants an opportunity to work on modeling before hitting the next promotion point and I think this new case would be a great fit”) than “I need to get this person’s utilization up” (within reason).

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Most groups do regular staffing calls. Your name probably has come up but they are also likely struggling to find the right role for you.

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I am currently 100% billable. It’s a general question. My background is in workforce management and having people underutilized while hiring others is different so I want to understand the reasoning.

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Different skillsets. Maybe they sold a large program that needs a certain skillset that the people on the bench don't have.

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We don’t have our team relocate at Huron

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Having been involved in staffing conversations—particularly for new interns and FT hires—I think we definitely look at what opportunities and development each case provides relative to the needs of our people. It’s not just about finding warm bodies. Utilization is important for sure. I think util is less visible and isn’t managed as a metric the same way in MBB, but at the same time, you couldn’t be on the beach for a year, either (barring some sort of sabbatical).

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We have resource managers who know everyone skillset in our practice. Managers and above get reports on availability as well. And a few partners, directors and a couple of managers who are close to the entire team know everyone’s skillset, name and availability too. RM will try to place people in low utilization to projects, but reputation mostly follow people. For those who can’t deliver, they are quickly rejected by teams, and those who can have projects lining up to wait on their availabilities. PPMDs talk and they do know who can do and can’t.

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We have a similar approach to McKinsey and Bain. We don’t track utilization. I can use my network to be staffed on upcoming cases, but we have dedicated staffing teams in each office that are responsible for getting you staffed on things that will continue your development to make sure you are ready for your next promotion.

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I totally agree with that. But when you need a helping hand it would be nice to have someone who has line of sight into everything going on and can get a person slotted in.

Hmm Huron 1 good to know! ❤️

Huron do you guys have the option to travel to projects or do you have to relocate?

KPMG is that across the board?

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