As Brexit damages business investment, resource planning tools can boost productivity levels

With senior UK government figures castigating businesses whenever they express their 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 optimizing the utilization of their staff, which is where resource planning tools can help.

Surveys conducted by the UK Association of Consulting Engineers (benchmark member survey, 2011) show that a mere 2% increase in utilization can increase operational profits by more than 25%. This is a rich reward for a relatively 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 balanced with the capacity than a project change occurs to throw it off course. The temptation to hold onto spare resource ‘just in case’ can seriously impact utilization levels and quickly erode profits. Not having enough will, of course, jeopardize 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 utilization. ‘What If…’ analysis enables you to see if the workload can be re-balanced within the constraints of key project commitments. And as project changes occur, their resource consequences can quickly be seen and addressed.

With the committed workload under greater control, new projects can be layered on top so that start dates can be agreed that optimize utilization of the resource pool. When unacceptable bottlenecks remain, the required profile for contractors or new hires can be viewed with some confidence.

With more effective resource demand management, allocating individuals to projects becomes that much easier. It is here that real utilization improvements can be made. In a matrix organization, 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 can 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!

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.
Posted in resource management