Common resource management problems and solutions

common resource management problems and solutions

Do your projects often run late?  Do you struggle to forecast what resources you need? Or find it hard to figure out if you have sufficient resources to start up new projects. 

Sound familiar? These are all symptoms of resource management problems.

And here is the thing.

You are not the first person to hit these problems and you won’t be the last. And the solutions are often easier than you think.

Let’s look at the most common resource management problems and actionable solutions to solving them.

Hard to forecast the resource and skill needs for your organization

Do you find yourself not having enough resources to do your projects? Or have the wrong mix of skills? Or teams with not enough work to do?

Resource forecasting aims to solve this problem.

As its name implies, resource forecasting helps you understand your future resource and skill requirements based on your current and future project pipeline.

A resource forecast may look out 3-6 months depending on things like your resource hiring time, sales cycle or project roadmap.

Resource forecasts are high level – they don’t normally get down into the weeds looking at individual resources. Instead you compare the capacity of resources / skills vs the headcount / skill needs for projects.

You can build a simple resource forecast in a spreadsheet which is ok for a small team with a handful of projects. For anything else check out a resource forecasting solution

Resources have too much work

Do you feel your resources are flip flopping between having too much work (over utilized) or too little work (under utilized)?

The most common reason for over utilized resources we come across is managers failing to take into account that people work on other activities besides projects. 

So resource plans don’t include things like meetings, business as usual activities, support and all the other good stuff people do to keep things moving along.

A simple solution to this is to only plan resources at say 90% of their capacity and leave some headroom for non-project work.

Resources have too little work

On the flip side, having resources with too little work is normally due to poor resource planning or allocation. Things like shifting priorities, new projects seeking resource and project delays create a constantly moving landscape which the resource manager needs to oversee.

Unless you have a small team trying to keep a handle on who is working on what and when is practically impossible to do in your head. Instead think about using resource planning software

Resource planning software lets you quickly and easily build resource plans ensuring people don’t have gaps in their schedule nor have too much work. 

Kelloo's resource management tools

Resource planning, forecasting and reporting in one place. We help you get the most from your projects and people.

Taking on too many projects

When deciding if you can start up a new project you need to ensure you have enough resources with the right skills. The problem is most organizations don’t just have one project, they have tens of projects all competing for the same resources.

Decisions on what projects you can start up should be based on the capacity of your resources to do the projects. But often times, decisions are based on guess work about skill and resource levels.

The solution to this is capacity planning. Like everything in life, resource management is a series of trade-offs. Capacity planning lets you model how starting up a new project, delaying a project or hiring more resources will impact your projects and resource utilization.

In a recent report, attempting to run too many projects was cited as the 2nd largest project management challenge faced. Making decisions on your bandwidth to take on more projects should always be based on your resource capacity.

pm challanges

Resources working on the wrong projects

Does your resource management process take into account your organizational priorities? 

If you are a customer facing organization these are normally quite easy to understand. But for internal projects you need a way to prioritize your projects so resource allocation is aligned with what is valuable to your organization.

Successful organizations are not the ones who deliver the most projects. They are the organizations who deliver the right projects. 

It’s a no brainer – but often overlooked.

Often there is a disconnect between your organization’s strategic priorities and the projects that resources get allocated to. The solution is to use a resource management solution that lets you take into account strategic priorities when selecting and staffing projects.

Making decisions using out of date information

Most folks starting out with resource management start out trying to handle it using spreadsheets. And to be honest you can just about get away with this if you have a small team and a handful of projects.

But here is the deal. Using spreadsheets for resource management is probably the biggest issue hurting you right now.

What starts out as a simple planning spreadsheet quickly grows into spreadsheet hell. Errors creep in, updates are not made and reporting becomes a major headache.

In short, you are making key decisions based on poor quality information.

Spreadsheets are often the initial go to tool for building a resource management solution. But don’t go there.

They do not scale and require a lot of manual input to achieve what a dedicated resource management tool can do with a couple of clicks. 

Incorporating agile in the resource management process

Agile is a way of organizing work often used by software, product development and IT organizations.

Organizations running agile often neglect or ignore resource management. Either because they don’t think it’s necessary or they haven’t found a way to accommodate it in their resource management process.

The truth is, irrespective of the delivery mechanism (agile, waterfall or hybrid) organizations need to plan. They need to plan what products they will be launching, how they will invest their money and crucially the resources they will need

And ironically, it is quite easy to incorporate agile into your resource management process. Resource management solutions like Kelloo let you manage agile and non agile / traditional practices is the same tool.

Balancing resources across multiple projects

In an ideal world, resource would work on one project at a time. However, the reality is that resources often have to split their time across multiple projects. This is a real headache for resources managers.

Key challenges include:

  • Checking resources are not over utilized while ensuring individual projects have enough resource.
  • Re-organizing resources as priorities changes.
  • Negotiating with project managers as schedules change.

Here are some strategies you can adopt to make multi project resource management easier.

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