Resource management best practice – top 10 tips

The secret of successful resource management is to maintain high levels of resource utilization, whilst ensuring that no project is impeded through lack of required skills. How can this be consistently achieved? Here are our top 10 Resource management Best Practice tips, based on more than 35 years’ experience of working with engineering, IT, pharmaceutical and marketing services clients.

Resource management consists of two phases:

  • Demand management, which captures the overall resource demand and compares it with the organization’s capacity to meet it. Resource bottlenecks show when individual projects may suffer, and any periods of under use will threaten overall profitability.
  • Resource allocation. Matching staff to tasks, so that suitably qualified and experienced resources are assigned to every project.

So here is the top 10:

Demand management

1 –   Build a complete picture of the resource demand, to include all projects and BAU work,  vacation and other known periods of non-availability. Compare this with the resource pools’ skills capacity to highlight periods of bottlenecks and under use. Drill down the organization structure to identify these in every corner.

2 –    For the big picture to be credible, the demand data must be consistent and current. For consistency in project plans use templates as a logical starting point and to maintain consistency in their work estimates.

3 –    For the big picture to be current, ensure that each project’s Estimate to Completion (ETC) remains realistic:

  • Update plans regularly for performance measurement, using Earned Value techniques or similar.
  • Register project changes and re-baseline plans to reflect each change as it is approved.

4 –    As new projects approach award or approval, add them to the big picture of demand to see if new bottlenecks will be introduced:

  • Use What If analysis where projects can be moved, to locate the earliest start date that avoids unacceptable bottlenecks.
  • Otherwise bottleneck profiles will show the additional resources required to meet the new project’s milestones. HR can then respond with hiring of contractors, recruitment or retraining programs.

Those are our Resource management best practice tips for demand management, now onto:

Resource allocation

5 –   As project managers prepare their project plans, they should be able to specify the minimum skills, experience, and certification levels required, for each requested resource.

6 –    Automatically send requests to appropriate team leaders for the widest search of suitable candidates. Their resource management tools should filter the candidates according to the requested skills, etc.

7 –    Track each step of the resource allocation process:

  1. Project managers Request resources
  2. Team Leaders Propose suitable candidates
  3. Project manager can Accept or Reject each proposed candidate
  4. Eventually the resource allocation is Confirmed.

8 –   Communication and co-operation. Assignment dates can regularly change as the project gets updated, introducing new conflicts and bottlenecks. So there needs to be good co-operation between project managers and team leaders. Where there are high levels of volatility, it can make sense to allow both project managers and team leaders to make date or resource changes to individual assignments, but the resource management tool must then be able to track who changed what, by how much and when, for effective visibility & control.

The last two resource management best practice tips relate to the resource management process:

9 –   Management Information. Resource management in multi-project organizations favours a matrix organization. The key roles of project manager, team leader and senior manager must each have relevant reports that automatically update as project change takes place.

10 –   The resource management process requires effective communication between project managers and team leaders each step of the way. Their resource management tool must therefore provide supply effective workflow support through the whole process.

These top 10 tips for resource management best practice are relevant for every organization that manages a 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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