Resource Management Mistakes
Resource Management Mistakes

The 5 Most Common Resource Management Mistakes

7 min read

History lessons have taught us that resources are valuable. Throughout history, resources like water, agricultural land, mineral resources and labor are often the cause of conflicts. The eternal struggle for the resources of this world has brought down thousand-year-old cultures, conquered whole continents and caused fierce wars.

In a business setting, it isn’t usually so dramatic. Nevertheless, project managers, PMOs and project portfolio managers may feel as if they are on the battlefield when they face resource shortages, allocation conflicts and constant changes.

To win this fight, a clear head and some strategic moves are necessary. You cannot afford many mistakes. It is a good thing that hundreds of companies have come before you and you can learn from their lessons. In this article, we have put together a list of the most common mistakes in resource management as well as their practical solutions.

5 Common Resource Management Mistakes

1. Selecting and Assigning Resources Incorrectly

“Ms. Williams just doesn’t have enough to do. We can assign her to your project. Last Christmas, she told me that she has always been interested in working with your project team, so this will work perfectly.”

What Is the Problem?

Selecting resources arbitrarily or on the basis of individual factors without fully considering the situation is probably the most common faux pas in project planning. This especially happens when there is no overview of the capacities, experience and abilities of the employees – or if no one knows which skill set is needed in which case.

Even the best planning in the world cannot make up for a lack of talent. This is why it is very important to assign the right resources to the right projects.

What Is the Solution?
  • Create an updated overview of the availability and skillsets of all employees. This allows you to assign your employees to projects in an optimal way.
  • Appoint a resource manager who is willing to take on this mammoth task to ensure a fair allocation of company-wide talent.
  • Resources should be assigned in such a way that both project work and day-to-day tasks can be accomplished. Alternatively, there are so-called “tiger teams”. These teams are usually made up of expert employees who are assigned and will dedicate their time and effort exclusively to a special project for a specific amount of time.
  • In an emergency, you can delete or pause projects that are the least likely to meet business objectives (in other words, projects with the lowest priority) to free up urgently needed resources.

(Source: Levinson, Networkworld).

2. Planning with 100% Capacity

“Mr. Smith should complete the project in the next three days. He works full-time, and there is only about 22 hours of work left to complete the project.”

Understanding Resource Capacity
What Is the Problem?

Such elementary calculations are simply unrealistic. Employees will feel overloaded and start missing deadlines. Why?

Even if employees devote themselves exclusively to project work, it is impossible that they will spend 100% of their time completing the project. Meetings, seminars, emails, conversations to clarify points, short breaks, sick days or even simply having a bad day can cut into the time focused on the project. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing.

What Is the Solution?
  • See your “resources” as people! An 8-hour task cannot be completed in a single, 8-hour workday. The only way a task that takes 8 hours can be completed in one day is if your employee works overtime – but is this a permanent solution? Not likely.
  • Note: The rule of thumb is to assume an employee’s weekly capacity is 80% of the hours they work as defined in the contract. For more information, please read our blog post “Is there a resource planning formula?”.
  • Check with your employees or use your PPM tool to check vacation days and average sick time is taken in your company, so that you can include a sufficient buffer in your planning.
  • Don’t forget to also take into account training seminars and workshops that motivate your employees strengthens their performance and promote a positive company culture.

3. Disregarding Project Dependencies

“Ms. Allen, why is your team just sitting around twiddling their thumbs? We need the work done now!”

What Is the Problem?

Sometimes project teams have no choice but to wait. As soon as a project milestone is delayed, this may trigger an unwanted chain reaction. The next project may depend on the first project being completed before it can be started. Until that happens, the project team may not have much to do.

What Is the Solution?
  • Analyze the dependencies between individual projects. Better yet, use a PPM tool to visualize them. This will give you an overview of when problems or delays may occur.
  • When planning projects, leave a sufficient buffer between projects with dependencies, or try to minimize dependencies. Often, multiple teams can work on different tasks of the same project at the same time.
  • In an emergency: Redistribute the resources appropriately so that the teams of the dependent project do not sit around (instead they can support the team on the deferred project).

(Source: Levinson, Networkworld).

4. Micro-Managing

“Mr. Brown, do you have any ideas about the task I gave you this morning? I would like to discuss and approve them.”

What Is the Problem?

We all know micromanagers, or we may have even found ourselves in this trap. Therefore, we also know how nerve-racking such behavior can be for all parties involved. The manager never rests and loads a huge amount of additional tasks on the employees. At the same, employees have no way to dig themselves out from the mountain of work. Micromanagement = Mismanagement!

What Is the Solution?
  • Managers who micromanage are better off delegating tasks and letting your employees use their own methods to complete the tasks. This will actually result in the tasks being completed faster and better.
  • Employees should have the opportunity to gain confidence in their own work. If you don’t have full confidence in your employees abilities to complete the tasks on their own, then set aside time to provide additional training or allow the employees to take courses to improve their performance.

5. Leaving Project Teams in the Dark

“Okay, Mr. Ramos, Milestone 1 must be finished by next Monday. It’s important, so get to it!”

Resource Management Mistakes
What Is the Problem?

Teams will not be as motivated if they don’t know why the tasks they are given must be done. People want to know the intention behind a project, its importance to the company and the expected benefits. This is much more inspiring and motivating than being left in the dark.

What Is the Solution?
  • Include the project team in the planning process as early as possible.
  • Before the start of the project, clarify the following with team members:
    • What are the project objectives?
    • How is the project consistent with the company’s strategy?
    • Why is completion so important?
    • Who has what role?
    • How will project progress be assessed?
    • What is the best possible result?
    • How does this help the company?
    • What deadlines are there?
    • What would happen if the project were to fail?

Without resources, there are no projects. And without properly attributed, motivated and well-informed resources, there are no successful projects. If you are already in the battlefield of “Resource Management” (so brave!), you should be well armed. Take these five mistakes and their solutions to heart, and you can be one step ahead of those before you. Because you are aware of these common resource management mistakes, you can avoid them altogether!

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