Whether you are a project-based organization or not, managing your resources is the number one challenge most managers have to deal with. If resource management is not done correctly, that can impact your project deadlines, budget and finally your company’s bottom line revenue. In this article some of the most common resource management challenges and resource management strategies have been highlighted.
To begin, what is resource management? Proper resource management refers to the appropriate utilization of your workforce such that resources are delegated to activities or projects that bring out the best possible outcome for your organization. This can be in the form of increased profitability or even the minimization of overhead costs like overtime.
There are many tried and tested tools and strategies that ensure automated and optimized resource allocation with very minimal human interference. But without a genuine reason, an organization doesn’t see the need to invest in a resource management tool or change their current management strategy. Which begs the question, what are some of the challenges that these help with?
No clarity on resource availability
In most cases, managers struggle with mapping out a department’s or even the entire organization’s complete resource availability. There is usually no clear view of how many resources are available or who has the relevant skill set for a particular task. This leads to managers scampering to find the matching talent whenever a new task comes up. This means that managers must go in blind without planning resource allocation for every new project. All of this uncertainty leads supervisors into some of the most preventable problems. One very fine example of that is not having the appropriate number of skilled resources.
But fear not, the solution is pretty straightforward. Either by using workforce management software or going for a spreadsheet, supervisors can combat this issue before it becomes an unmanageable problem. An extension to this issue is that it is not just important to have the necessary number of resources, but also important to have people with the right skillset. Resource availability needs to be checked consistently to see if any hiring needs to be done to match the current requirements. If resources that do not have the relevant skills are assigned to a project, this can only lead to wastage of precious project time. That can have an adverse impact both on the project deadlines as well as profitability.
No records of resource allocation
Managers tend to make the same mistake over and over because they lack documentation of where each of their resources are assigned or what their relevant skill set is. This means at any given point, no one knows how utilized each of the organization’s resources are. Overutilization of some resources and underutilization of others can lead to unnecessary overtime charges and employee burnout. While it may sound straightforward, documentation gaps are indeed a major obstacle to achieve proper resource management.
Managers need to know when a resource becomes available, so that they can be allotted to a future project. This means having documentation of schedules and deadlines. These schedules need to be made available across the organization such that other managers can see when their resources are underutilized and can assign tasks to them. This can also stop overbooking of resources for two tasks, because there will be clear communication between the managers to see who is available and who is not. The added advantage to this approach is, resources who are inadvertently overworked because of non-visibility of their workload, can also take a breather since there will be clear visibility into their work. Managers will then be able to reassign their workload and make sure that employee burnout is prevented before it can become a problem.
No resource contingency plan
When you dive headfirst into a project without having a backup plan, you are taking a huge risk. There can be dire consequences if one of the resources becomes unavailable. If no risk assessment is done prior hand, you are left with unstable projects which threaten to blow the budget or miss the deadline. If resources become occupied with other tasks in the middle of your project or if they are absent due to personal reasons, that presents a problem. If a contingency plan is not in place, it might become difficult to find last-minute replacements.
Proper planning is the cornerstone of every successful project. This means at the beginning of the project itself; managers need to plan for every likelihood of unavailability. Resources being unavailable to finish the project in time is a very real possibility. Creating a contingency plan is the first step to this. You need to have extra resources documented as backup in case they need to fill in for any of the active employees. If you see any points of vulnerability, like any of your resources showing signs of unavailability during the initial planning phases of your project, they need to be immediately replaced by more available resources to finish the project on time and within budget.
No optimization of resource mapping
Most companies will have multiple projects live at the same time. There will also be ad-hoc requests coming in, on top of which will be an array of routine tasks. In these cases, resources are forced to put out immediate fires as opposed to focusing on the more important tasks. It is easy to get lost in a sea of mundane activities and lose sight of what is hitting the overall profitability of the company. Your resources might be spending valuable time on tasks that are either unimportant or can be automated.
The first step to controlling this is to come up with a priority system for your projects and tasks. The activities that bring in the most profitability and are the most critical, need to be higher on the list than routine non-billable activities. Managers need to have insight into where each of their employees are spending their time, to see how best their time can be remapped to ensure maximum returns. This will also allow you to find the tasks that can be automated or even for that matter discarded entirely if it is not adding to the revenue. There also needs to be a system in place to keep a check on the number of ad-hoc requests coming in. A large number of these requests can be avoided with proper planning and due diligence to processes.
No proper demarcation for shared resources
In today’s economy most executives feel that having a resource working only on one project is not conducive to a company’s growth. This can mean employees working on numerous projects and tasks simultaneously. But with these activities being different in variety, employees can end up working on completely contrasting tasks in one day. If there is no proper differentiation between these projects and tasks, chances of error go up, along with employee time being spent unevenly.
To the best of your team’s capability, managing proper break times such that every employee gets adequate respite between each of their projects, can give your resources a breather and a fresh perspective when they resume work. You will have an energized workforce ready to take on new challenges and one that doesn’t feel bogged down with multiple projects.
Resource management falls at the heart of every organization’s priorities. That is why it is important to make sure that your business has the optimum strategy and necessary tools to aid in the proper allocation and management of your employees. All the different approaches discussed in this article have proven to be useful for many future-forward organizations.