Of all the various portfolio, programme and project management disciplines out there, it's clear that resource management is one of the areas that companies have the biggest struggle getting right. It seems to be something most businesses have a real desire to improve, yet we rarely find truly effective resource management solutions working in practice.
Solutions range from ‘not currently doing anything’ because it is in the ‘too difficult’ bucket to massively over-engineered solutions that demand a lot of time and effort for limited value or benefit, while we consistently see expensive tools reverting to timesheet recording.
Here are some thoughts to help you lay the foundations to improve your approach to resource management:
1. Focus on Outcomes
When starting to think about improving your portfolio resource planning and management, carefully consider what the desired outcomes of the process are. Just ‘managing resources better’ won’t help find the right solution and ‘stop Sarah being overloaded next week’ is going to be too specific and too late to successfully mitigate the pending issue.
Examples of good outcomes to focus on include:
2. Challenge the Level of Detail
In general, we find that the more detailed the level with which resources are managed (i.e. by hour/by day/by task), the more time and effort is taken up with the process and the less relative value that is derived. The amount of predictability in the delivery environment does impact this – but if you are trying to carry out task level resourcing managed on a day-by-day detailed project plan, this is going to be tough. Question whether very detailed resource planning is going to achieve the outcomes you need for the effort you will have to put in.
3. Simplify the Process
Keep the process you define for managing resource capacity vs demand simple! Maybe stating the obvious – but we have seen lots of examples of overly complex processes. Try to minimise the number of steps/actions that need to happen and do empower your key staff (Resource Mgrs/Project Mgrs) to communicate and make good resource decisions.
4. Visualise the Data
Collecting and managing a lot of information about the supply and demand position across a set of resource/teams/project and programmes is not much use if you can’t understand what the data actually means. Use clear graphs and graphics to show the resource contention points and challenges and allow these to drive the right management decisions, in good time, to be able to address the problem. Watch our video below for an example of a tool that can deliver this:
5. The Human Element
When thinking about how best to manage resources, remember that this is managing people and not numbers. Allow for the use of soft skills and getting to sensible, pragmatic agreements that allow the portfolio of programmes/projects to move forward for the business/organisation. Remember that no two people are the same and, through discussion and understanding, you should be able to get the right person for the role.
by Rupert Taylor September 2018