Control your volatile multi-project workload with resource planning tools

managing a portfolio of projects with a limited pool of resources is no easy ride. Just when all looks to be in balance a project change comes along creating an unacceptable resource bottleneck. Having too few staff can jeopardize the committed dates and risk disappointing your clients, but too many hanging around will lower resource utilisation. This is where resource planning tools, such as Innate, earn their keep.

Maintaining the right resource balance carries rich rewards. Just how large was shown in 2014 by the Association of Consulting Engineers member survey. This revealed that a mere 2% increase in billable hours, i.e. utilisation, would improve their member’s profits by 25% on average.

So, maintaining high levels of resource utilisation has become a key goal and keeping skills demand in balance with capacity is crucial. This may be reasonably straightforward when the projects are relatively large and small in number, with each having mainly dedicated teams, but the challenge escalates exponentially as the number of projects increases and their size diminishes. When individuals have short term tasks spanning several projects, their work plans can be very volatile and maintaining high utilisation levels becomes a significant problem.

Most multi-project businesses are organised as a matrix, with project managers reliant on team leaders for allocating suitable staff. The greater the project volatility, the more unstable their plans will become so that re-planning becomes a routine requirement. Traditionally, project managers must seek agreement when changing a resource’s work plan, but such constraints are too unwieldy in a fast-changing environment. The organisation needs to become more agile and many are choosing to give project manager’s permission to re-plan withoiut team leader’s prior agreementso as to keep on top of each project’s changing demands.

Resource planning tools make this workable by tracking the history of who changed what, by how much and when. The record of each change is visible to all parties, so that instigators can be held to account.

History of changes made to the Design task in project Barry

This is how resource planning tools help you keep control of a volatile portfolio of projects.

Barry Muir is a Director of Innate Management Systems Ltd. We have been implementing resource management software in a wide variety of professional services organizations for more than 20 years.
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