Resource management is often forgotten about in the world of project management, overshadowed by the actual workings of a project. But as a result, projects are often sub-optimal, profit targets are missed and resourcing situations are less than ideal. Studies (PMI’s Pulse of Profession Survey) have shown that 23% organizations concede that inadequate resource forecasting was a core cause for their projects to fail.
If the absence of proper resource management can have such detrimental consequences, what really is resource management? Resource management is best defined as the scheduling, utilization and future allocation of resources to different projects, or work in ways that allow you to measure and sustain efficiency. When woven into the workings of a project, resource management optimizes all of your tasks and resources, maximizing your agency’s true potential.
Resource management is built on four pillars, each one encompassing an aspect of efficient operations. The pillars work in unison to first help you leverage your productivity and then transform the way you operate. Let’s take a deep dive and understand their relevance to project management.
#1 Complete visibility of resources and project timelines
The struggle: Issues like deadline clashes, resource unavailability, schedule miscommunication etc., are all symptoms of an organization that is plagued by limited visibility. As you begin to focus on winning new business and building teams, you tend to forget the fact that your business and project units must be inter-linked.
Team leaders must have access to data across different teams and senior managers should be able to access this information without having to spend time sifting through spreadsheets.
In addition, such data has to be updated in real-time as obsolete data is counterproductive and causes poor resource allocation. But most of these things hardly see the light of day, given how project execution takes most of your bandwidth.
The Pillar: Visualisation, as the first pillar of resource management not only helps all stakeholders stay updated but also makes transparent, barrier-free communication a part of your project work culture. Given how collaboration and communication are critical to project success, visualization can very well be called a pillar of successful project execution!
An organization-wide schedule is best accessed as a visual one that accounts for different resources, their timelines, and the projects they are working on, all at once. It has to be automated such that it updates itself in real-time. As opposed to a report or an excel sheet, a visual schedule will help you find information as well as share it immediately.
For example, let’s say you have multiple projects and you need to allocate the same set of resources onto them. In this case, a colour-coded timeline of all your resources and projects can help you find the talent you need to and schedule them within no time. Besides, you can easily make sure that their utilization is optimal, they are not placed on multiple projects at once and that the capacity you have allocated for a project meets the demand you foresee. Over a spreadsheet, such planning would require poring over different sheets, repeatedly.
#2 Allocating the right person for the job
The struggle: One of the most unfortunate realities of a traditional project set-up is the fact that despite having a vast pool of resources with highly-specialized skills, you are often forced to settle for resources that you simply have easy access to. This means, despite nurturing niche talent, you are often unable to tap it simply because you cannot access the required data. This not only hampers project quality but also kills the motivation levels of specialized teams.
As for resource requests, to this day, most agencies rely on wildly inefficient resourcing meetings or passing around Excel spreadsheets. As a result, in most projects, allocation becomes a mindless chore that simply ensures enough capacity is made available. However, strategizing it to your advantage can be a huge benefit to projects and our project teams.
The Pillar: Finding the right talent to deliver your project is not just wishful thinking. It involves considering time commitment, skill orientation, as well as resource availability. So, this pillar, an extension of visibility, ideally comes equipped with the ability to filter details, based on location, availability, project time, skillsets, etc.
In addition, project teams must invest in building a resource request process that is efficient and automated. Combined with visibility, it will make finding staff with the right experience or skills hassle-free. Over time, your resource scheduling will get both efficient and precise.
#3 Optimizing the utilization levels of all resources
The struggle: Resource utilization is probably one of the most debated aspects of resource management. Given how payroll expense is a significant cost that your company bears, equating productivity with hours put in is partly justifiable. Besides, efficiency and productivity levels are some of the most intangible parameters to have scientific measures for.
Overutilization conveniently fills in as healthy productivity as you channel your best efforts towards minimizing underutilized resources.
However, Overutilization is counter-productive, demotivating and results in increased attrition rates. It can hamper the quality of output you deliver and can leave your staff unwilling to put in their best. In the long run, this is not a strategy that will help you build an organization that stands the test of time.
On the other hand, underutilization is a well-known productivity killer that results in having your precious resources on the bench or failing to use them to their true potential.
Optimal utilization balances this scale, thereby making sure that your resourcing situation is at its ideal best while also enjoying maximized productivity.
The Pillar: Resource optimization works on ensuring that the timeline commitments that resources are booked onto are met. While timelines are not overstepped, the hours that are put in must account for significance too. Full-time Equivalent (FTE) as a measure works well to bring different types of resources (full-time, part-time freelancers, contractors, etc.) onto a unified scale. When this can be traced through an automated report that you can access based on your project timeline (daily, weekly, monthly) you can be assured of the fact that your workforce is utilized comprehensively. Besides this timeline commitment, the first two pillars can further your pursuit of skill-based utilization.
#4 Forecasting future resource requirements
The struggle: Given the pace at which projects function today, foresighted decision-making is cardinal to making the right move. Not only do you have to be intuitive about current situations but you also need to be able to decide the course of future and pipeline projects. However, a lot of organizations still struggle to muster this intuitiveness and as a result, their planning and execution phases clash with one another, thereby eating into profits as well as timelines.
Besides, even if you hate to admit it, not being able to forecast resource requirements often lands you in situations that require hasty hiring and firing of employees. This brings down your hiring standards and endangers project success . In addition. projects that are not in sync with your training programmes also face a slump in the quality delivered.
The Pillar: Future forecasting relies on your ability to draw reports that give you insights on projects that are likely to convert in the near future and not only the project requirements that you currently have. While you can tie the business and project units of your organization to generate this data, you’ll also require a channel that is automatically updated. Besides, as project decision-makers, you need to compare your booked data with that of your actual or execution success rate to be able to draw a valid conclusion on the allocation your pipeline projects can be given.
Forecasting as a pillar (when automated) generates resource capacity vs. project demand reports that map both parameters in FTE terms. As a result, you can decide well ahead of time whether or not you need to hire resources, let go of a few or make internal shifts to meet your demands. Reiterating from previous data, these requirements need to be updated in real-time and should be accessed by all stakeholders.
As project resource managers, you often face frustrating situations trying to exercise a few or all of these pillars through spreadsheets or other tools that are not completely equipped to handle resource management. With the risk an entire project looming over your shoulders, this is no way comfortable.
But, everything changes when you opt for a software like Saviom resource management tool that is built on the strength these pillars. Not only will you feel empowered to make the right
decisions with scientific resource management, but you will also see an organic increase in your team’s productivity. To top it all, an increase in productivity is best felt in the enhanced profits you derive!
This post was made possible thanks to the kind support of Saviom.