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Resource management best practice

Ultimate Guide to Resource Management – Chapter 4

Organizations are under increasing pressure to deliver advanced products and projects with scare resources.

Which means resources must be optimally utilized and focused on the right projects.

Poor resource management can lead to poor productivity, delays, decreased quality, increased costs and missed opportunities.

But how can we improve resource management?

It requires a mindset shift and recognizing that high levels of resource utilization are not necessarily a good measure of resource management effectiveness.

Effective resource management means ensuring you have the right people on the right projects at the right time.

 

This means prioritizing your projects using your strategic goals then allocating your resources based on the priorities.

Use software to help with the heavy lifting

Organizations often rely on spreadsheets for resource management.

The attraction is obvious. Most people have spreadsheet software and on the face of it, it is quick to put together a resource management template.

However spreadsheets are often passed from one person to another to manage and update. Quickly they get filled with formulas that no one understands and bugs and errors creep in.

They do not scale and take an age to keep up to date.

For the sake of a couple of thousand dollars, invest in some resource management software.

Which will include features such as scenario planning, priority based resource allocation and what if planning which you will not find in any spreadsheet based resource management solution.

Have a common approach for setting priorities

Repeat after me. Always allocate resources to the most important work first.

Key to this in implementing a prioritization method that is transparent, fair and that everyone understands. Tie the prioritization process back to what is important to your organization – your strategic priorities.

Allocate resources based on project and work priority

It goes without saying that resources should always be allocated to the highest priority work first.

This is often called priority based resource allocation.

If you are still trying to run your resource management in spreadsheets then priority based resource allocation is near impossible to do. It will involve a lot of spreadsheet hacking every time you want to change the priority of your projects (which happens often).

A planning tool that highlights resource capacities and constraints based on project priority should be used to build the resource allocation plans and provide input into the high level project plans.

Split capacity planning and resource planning

Unless you run a very small portfolio of projects with a handful of resources it is essential that you separate the capacity planning and resource planning process. They are different process, undertaken by different people and with different outputs. 

(1) Capacity planning determines if the organization has sufficient resources with the right skills to execute the projects they want to do.

(2) Resource planning is the process of coordinating and allocating actual resources to projects so the project managers know who they are working with.

Resource management and portfolio management go hand in hand

Portfolio management and resource management are highly integrated processes which both feed into each other.

Don’t neglect one over the other and use a software solution that combines both portfolio management and resource management in the same package.

Resource management should take account of agile, waterfall and others

Increasingly agile and waterfall / timeline planning techniques cohabit alongside each other. So ensure your resource management software can handle agile planning techniques.

From a capacity planning perspective, the differences between agile and waterfall are normally small. However when resource planning the differences become more apparent.

Your resource management process and tools needs to accommodate whatever way your projects are run and planned.

We can see below how the Kelloo resource plan includes waterfall, agile sprints and BAU activities.

Agile and waterfall resource planning

Resource management never stops

Once you have established a resource management process it never stops. 

Resource plans quickly become out of date and yet people rely on them to make decisions.

So build a resource management machine which lets you monitor and manage utilization, capacities and new project work on a regular basis. Look at the resource management tools available as these can automate a lot of the resource management activities.

Account for all work

Too often resource management focuses on projects and neglects non-project work and business as usual activities. Your resource management process needs to capture everything your resources work on. 

Vacations and time off make a big dent in your resource supply. You need to have a way of accounting for these when calculating your resource supply and skills capacity.

Do resource management at the right level

It is essential that resource plans reflect the needs of the organization. 

If projects are volatile and often slip or change then your resource planning time frame and level of detail should reflect this reality.

(1) Consider only planning at a detail level for the next month or two.

(2) Use skill based planning as opposed to resource based planning when the actual resource in unimportant.

(3) Base longer term plans on forecasts and accept they will change as more is known.