With senior UK government figures castigating businesses whenever they express legitimate concerns, a Brexit disaster seems headed our way. As the uncertain future erodes confidence, and levels of investment fall, what can UK businesses do to retain their competitiveness? One way for project-based ones is to focus on optimising the utilisation of their staff, which is where resource planning tools can help.
Surveys conducted by the Association of Consulting Engineers (Benchmark member survey, 2011) show that a mere 2& increase in productivity (measured by billable hours) can increase operational profits by more than 25%. This is a rich reward for a modest improvement.
However, managing a portfolio of projects with a limited pool of resources is no easy ride. No sooner is the skills demand nicely in balance with capacity than a project change occurs, throwing it off course. The temptation is to hold onto spare resource ‘just in case’, but having too much can seriously impact utilisation levels and quickly erode profitability. Not having enough will, of course. jeopardise key project dates and risk client disappointment.
Resource planning tools can help to strike the right balance. Forward loading reports across the committed projects highlight unacceptable resource bottlenecks and areas of low utilisation. ‘What If…’ analysis enables you to see if the workload can be rebalanced within the constraints of key project dates. And as project changes occur, their resource consequences can quickly be seen and addressed.
With the committed workload under control, new projects can be layered on top so that start dates can be scheduled to optimise utilisation of the resource pool. Where unacceptable bottlenecks remain, the requirements profile for contractors or new hires can be seen with some confidence.
With more effective resource demand management, allocating individuals to projects becomes that much easier. It is here that real utilisation improvements can be made. In a matrix organisation, where project managers request resource from a number of resource managers, resource planning tools support the allocation and review process each step of the way. In highly volatile environments, they will track the details of who changed what, by how much and when, so that managers can quickly respond as resource demand ebbs and flows.
It’s a shame that there are no such tools for managing the Brexit process!