For many organizations, resource management is a crucial component of seeing projects completed. But it takes more than a list of employees and projects for resource management to come to life. Like most things, you will get as much out of resource management as you put in. If you’ve got the resource management basics down and want to see what you can do to take it the next level, follow these five resource management best practices.
#1 – Put Faith in Your Project Managers
It may be tempting to allocate employees entirely by yourself (it is your job after all), but this would be a mistake. You should consult your project managers and put faith in them that they know their team best. Project managers will be much more familiar with the nuisances of managing their team. They will know which developer on their team is the fastest at fixing bugs or which two engineers come up with particularly creative ideas when working together. This firsthand knowledge can turn allocation into optimization of resources.
This insight provided by project managers should not be overlooked when managing resources. You can harness this insight in two ways. First, you can consult with your project managers when planning for projects. However, depending on how many resources you are working with and how many project managers you have, this might not be the most efficient use of time. If this is the case, you can plan your allocations on a role level and let your individual projects managers choose exactly which individuals will fill those roles. It may feel counterintuitive to relinquish some of your resource management duties to others, but it would be a huge mistake to not use the knowledge your project managers possess.
#2 – Know Your Resource Utilization Rate
If there is anything that every worker knows to be true, it’s that emails, meetings and other administrative tasks are unavoidable. Whether you like sorting through dozens of emails every morning or not, it’s a part of most jobs. This means that when you plan projects, you must keep in mind the resource utilization rate or the actual amount of an employee’s time they have available to work on projects. Most organizations use a resource utilization rate of 80% and while this is a good standard, you should really consider whether this standard is right for your organization. It’s also possible that certain teams or roles have different utilization rates.
One of the easiest ways to determine your resource utilization rate is to talk with employees. They might already have an idea of how much time they spend on non-project related tasks, but if not, you can ask them to keep track of their time for several weeks and detail exactly how much time is spent replying to emails, attending meetings, etc. In addition to speaking with employees, one of the biggest indications that your resource utilization rate is off is when projects are consistently finished before their completion date or past their completion date. While there are always things that can speed up or delay a project, consistently missing completion dates when those assigned to projects aren’t over or under allocated could be a sign that the resource utilization rate needs to be adjusted.
#3 – Get Your Resource Pool in Order
Maintaining accurate data about your resource pool is a never-ending task and while it’s not the most glamorous part of resource management, it’s crucial for optimization. Wherever you keep your list of employees, a good resource management best practice is to record more than just a name and a role. When you have more detailed information about each person in your resource pool, you can better allocate them. You should be able to see what types of skills each person has, past experience that could be relevant for future projects and any planned time off they have scheduled.
Collecting this information can be tedious, but it can really help you out. Imagine you have two Junior Developers you could allocate to a new project, but one has prior experience on a similar project. Knowing to assign the Junior Developer with relevant past experience to the project can help assure the project gets finished on time and on budget. The more you know about your employees, the better you can allocate them. This is the difference between assigning someone to a project and assigning the right person to a project.
#4 – Know Where Your Bottlenecks Are
Most of your project bottlenecks are probably coming from a small number of people. It’s not these individuals’ fault that they are in high demand, but you also can’t let the demand slow down your projects. To help reduce bottlenecks, identify the key employees that are causing the bottlenecks and plan around this need. The allocation of these individuals needs to be planned first and everything else should be planned around them.
If you recognize that certain individuals are constantly causing bottlenecks, it’s likely a sign that there is a bigger problem. Working with your organization, you will need to decide if you want to address this issue by hiring or training other employees who can help relieve the bottleneck, shift some of the workload to other employees or move projects to a time when the key employees have the capacity.
#5 – Keep Your People Happy
Happy people are productive people. When people are unhappy, things can quickly fall apart. While resource managers aren’t solely responsible for the happiness of all employees, there are things they can do to help contribute. Workers don’t like to be too busy or have too little work. Luckily for resource managers, this is the goal of their work – perfectly utilizing the amount of time an employee has to offer. But resource managers can take it a step further by the types of projects they allocate.
Some projects in your organization are going to be more interesting than others. While not everyone can work on the most interesting projects all the time, you can ensure that everyone gets to work on the interesting projects some of the time. If you know someone is particularly passionate about a certain project or topic, allocating them to such a project can help improve their satisfaction with not only their work, but the organization as a whole.
Solve Your Resource Management Puzzle
Resource management shouldn’t be a headache. Meisterplan is a resource management and project portfolio management tool that makes it easy to understand your organization’s capacity and plan how this capacity will be used across projects. To see how Meisterplan can support these resource management best practices, sign up for a free one on one demo today.