Best Industry Practices for Efficient Resource Management
Organizations strive to deliver projects on time and within budget to meet their business goals. Project resource managers need to manage and utilize resources optimally to accomplish this. Improper resource management can lead to delayed projects, poor quality of output, missed opportunities as well as reduced productivity. Businesses are increasingly adopting resource management tools and following best industry practices for resource management to ensure that resources are utilized to their maximal capacity and as per their skill sets.
What is Resource Management?
Resources are a business's most valuable asset and require a great deal of investment. They need to be managed efficiently and utilized effectively if the company is to meet its business goals. Resource management requires managers to prioritize projects and tasks, and then to timely allocate the right resources to the right tasks. Managers need to schedule resources as per their capacity for optimal utilization. Efficient resource scheduling will lead to increased productivity, lower resource costs and improved profitability for the company.
Why is Resource Management Important?
Project managers must keep projects on track in terms of time and budget for projects to be profitable. They need to:
- Check on resource availability before the commencement and during various stages of the project.
- Prioritize project tasks and assign the right task to the right resource by matching the skillsets.
- Schedule resources as per resource capacity to maximize utilization.
- Monitor resource capacity continuously so that no resource is over-or underutilized.
- Track the progress of the project to ensure the goals are met on time and within budget.
- Ensure that there are adequate resources available for the changing demands of the project.
Managers must manage resources effectively to meet the strategic business goals set out. Efficient resource management is a crucial element of this process. A failure to do so would lead to project delays (or even derailment in extreme cases), increased costs, poor productivity and losses.
Best Industry Practices for Resource Management
Given its key role in the success of projects, businesses have defined and established practices that lead to effective resource management and increased business efficiency. Let's take a look at these best practices.
- Focus on highly skilled resources which may be in high demand and short supply: Some resources have highly specialized skills that may be needed for multiple projects. By planning projects around the availability of these resources, project managers can ensure that projects progress on schedule and do not get delayed due to a lack of resources.
- Closely monitor the utilization of various resources: Overwork or underutilization can affect productivity, which then impacts the overall success and profitability of the project. Avoid assigning multiple or parallel tasks to resources, which may delay more than one project especially in case of task dependencies. Overwork can lead to burnout, while inadequate utilization would lead to frustration and employee turnover.
- Be clear on how to prioritize tasks, especially when resources are shared: Project managers must have a defined approach to prioritizing tasks and projects so that valuable resources are optimally utilized for productive tasks. Allocate and schedule resources as per project priorities.
- Be diligent about resource planning: Managers must plan resources for the projects in a well-defined manner by listing out the start/end dates of each task and project. This will help them better plan for allocating resources to newer tasks or projects.
- Adopt automation where possible: Take into account the non-billable utilization of resources. Many tasks are routine and repetitive (though imperative), requiring lower levels of skills. Such tasks can be automated, thus freeing precious resources for more productive tasks.
- Recognize that resource management is a continuous process: Resources are often limited and must be shared across multiple projects. Managers must monitor their resource utilization on an ongoing basis to ensure that there are no schedule conflicts. Projects are dynamic and demands for resources may change over time. Managers must plan for such variations.
- Tracking time and project progress: Managers need to track the quality of output as well as the time is taken for each task throughout the lifecycle of the project. This enables them to ensure that the project meets the client expectations and is delivered on time. They can also assess the performance of resources.
- Upgrade skills of resources through training programs: Training workshops to acquire new and upgrade existing skills of resources will help the organization in future opportunities. It also ensures the personal development of the resources and keeps them satisfied with their work.
- Be inclusive of different methodologies adopted by various teams: Each team within the organization may work in its own unique manner. Project managers must ensure that the outcomes align with the project goals and create business efficiencies.
Benefits of Using a Resource Management Software
Resource management software like the eResource Scheduler with built-in resource management tools enables resource managers to implement the best possible framework to get the most out of their resources.
- Resource management is more streamlined: Data on all the available resources is collated in a centralized pool. Managers can identify, allocate and book the resources and skillsets they need for various tasks more efficiently. Gantt charts ensure that there are no double-bookings, especially for shared resources.
- Real-time resource availability ensures more effective resource allocation: The Dashboard gives information on the true availability of resources. Managers can match the skillsets of the talent pool to the various tasks at hand more efficiently. Projects and tasks can be prioritized, and the right resource can be allocated to the right task at the right time.
- Maximize resource utilization: Managers get a bird's eye view of the schedules of resources. They can monitor the resource capacity and how the resources are being utilized. Resources can then be reallocated to ensure optimal utilization for billable and strategic tasks. Over-and underutilization of resources can also be avoided.
- Identify shortfalls in resource skillsets and bridge the gap: Resource capacity planning helps managers to know the skill sets available within the organization. They can identify any lacks and work to acquire these. Existing resources can be trained to upgrade their skills and more can be hired. This also helps managers adjust project timelines to align with the available resource capacity. Some short-term highly skilled tasks can be outsourced too.
- Forecast and plan for future project resource requirements: The organization's resource availability is consolidated and accessible to all project managers in a central pool. This helps them plan for future projects based on available resource skills and capacity. HR will also have adequate time to train existing resources and hire new ones.
- Keep project costs on track: Routine tasks and those requiring a lower level of skills can be automated with resource management software. Others can be outsourced to low-cost locations.
- Transparency and visibility: Resource management software helps create a matrix organizational structure that allows managers a clear overview of resource availability, competencies, and performances. Project managers can allocate and schedule resources more effectively to maximize productivity.
- Enhanced communication across the organization keeps everyone engaged: Employees are kept in the loop of all changes and updates in the scope of the project. They are more motivated and productive, which has a direct positive impact on the project outcome and profitability. Employee job satisfaction also leads to better performances and lower turnover.