The world has changed over the past year, but the game’s general rules remain the same. The old-fashioned formula works: «Make the best products faster with the lowest costs possible». In the Covid Era this is only getting worse.
Therefore, a quite standard and obvious decision is often made to load the teams with work to the bitter end and focus them on the highest-priority tasks. Such tactics are natural but damaging. In that case, the output is low capacity, delays, lower quality, higher costs, and revenue leakages.
Those companies which realized it, implement such an element as Resource Management. By resources here we mean the most valuable capital — your team.
This raises the fair question of how to improve resource management if people are already working at their limit. The first step to good resource planning is to realize that a high level of resource utilization is not an indicator of good resource management.
Sound resource management is about ensuring that your resources are working on projects that meet strategic goals, that match their skills, and where they have sufficient capacity.
Companies are constantly overstretching human resources, limiting both growth and innovation. Without the right approach to resource planning, it’s impossible to determine what task needs to be closed and when resources will be available.
Resource management is a complex process, especially in companies with wide geography and different methodologies for working across departments. Regardless, there are three features that every resource management software should include:
Load and Demand Management. The optimization of resource utilization by the prioritization of work based on available resource capacity.
Resource Utilization. Ensuring that the right resources are available to support strategic goals.
Tracking Progress and Time. Make sure that progress is monitored, this is especially valuable in time tracking. Compare planned to actual work effort to better understand what your resources are being spent on.
Using an effective resource management system that provides these three capabilities will allow your organization to:
It’s important to use resource management tools that are well-suited to your organization. Companies often rely on excel and google spreadsheets for resource management because of their affordability. However, keeping multiple spreadsheets up to date doesn’t scale properly and often becomes a barrier to effective resource planning.
Using a manual, ad hoc approach to resource management is time-consuming. It results in inaccurate and irrelevant data and creates unrealistic views of resource demand and availability. This approach also misses the nuances, such as the need to make small changes to an already implemented solution or help other teams on lower-priority projects.
As a result, you may find yourself behind when you start a new project without even knowing it.
You can often use the 80/20 rule, where 80% of requests are for 20% of resources. These are the people who are in high demand to get the work done.
It’s worth accepting that conflicts will arise since unexpected events and changes are inevitable (and more often than you’d like!).
Work together to resolve resource conflicts based on current and future priorities.
Establish a consistent process for scoring projects in advance; this will simplify informed decision-making.
Keep track of non-planned tasks that take resource capacity and create hidden delays.
Remember that excessive workloads lead to problems with quality and reduced resource capacity.
Align projects and tasks with the strategic goals for which they are designed.
Use automated processes wherever possible. This will reduce management costs.
If resource management is something new to your company, use stage or project levels in the resource management process as a starting point. Make sure resource management decisions can and should be changed according to your needs and tasks.
Remember that certain teams in the company may be quite resistant to time tracking, so be more loyal, especially at the beginning.
Implementing resource management goes easier if you manage time-tracking and resource management in one single tool.
Use actual data to evaluate performance and understand dynamics, this will improve your future planning.
Use non-named resources based on roles for long-term planning or when a specific resource is not known in advance.
Reserving named resources can be useful for mid-term planning and prioritization processes.
Ensure that all administrative time, paid time off, etc. are accounted for both long- and short-term planning.
Be conscious of unforeseen project tasks and provide a mechanism for accounting for non-project time.
Recognize that there will be a natural loss of time for day-to-day activities such as administrative tasks (e.g. email, general meetings, etc.). Therefore, it is worth using those resource planning tools that include time accounting for non-commercial projects and time off.
Multitasking sounds effective but often leads to lower performance.
Try to limit the number of paralleled tasks, and your resources will perform better.
Last, but certainly not least, take care of your resources because employee turnover results in a huge loss in productivity/capacity.
Offer training programs and don’t overburden employees to reduce burnout.
Excellent software for resource management and implementing these practices will bring you to cost optimization, increase the accuracy of planning and forecasting, prevent revenue leakages and staff hunger. And, of course, it will leave no chance for chaos and confusion in reports and spreadsheets.