Six Ways to Know You Should Pay More Attention to Resource Management
By Nicholas Holmes
Resource management is the lifeblood of a consultancy business and of good project management. If you can’t get the right people in the right place, you’re dead in the water. But it’s surprising how many projects get into trouble when the warning signs were there long before anybody realized there was a problem.
So what should set alarm bells ringing for project managers when it comes to resource management?
- Unknown, uneven or low utilization
Utilization is a metric most project managers should be paying attention to as closely as financial controllers do – but for slightly different reasons. While under-utilization is seen as a financial problem, over-utilization often results in a resource squeeze, significantly reducing the agility of project teams, and it can also lead to demotivated, exhausted employees. So PMs need to be able to see areas of concern early and work with a resource scheduler or manager to iron out issues before they become a problem that can affect project delivery.
Overuse of contractors
This is particularly prevalent in large firms – resourcers turn away from the organisation for help first, before going internally. Often, it’s simply a result of not having good resource management processes in place – you need to know where people are and for how long to avoid wasting money on unnecessary contracting work, and if you’re handling everything on an unwieldy system, that’s not possible.
Long lead time on reports
Reports can also be time-consuming to produce, but that’s almost a separate problem here – what’s important is the lead time between receiving a timesheet and having the actionable business data in your hand. For large companies, this can often run into weeks – and weeks is simply too long if you’re overspending on resources and you don’t know about it yet. If you’re not receiving the data from the right department in hours, you should be asking questions about whether your resource management setup is correct.
Larger than expected salary spend
Salaries and contractor fees are one business area where there shouldn’t be any shocks – if you’re breaking the budget for people spend every month, it may be down to time tracking errors. Figures suggest manual time tracking computation errors can cost between one and eight percent in a company’s annual gross payroll.
Project slippage due to resource constraints
This has become the norm in some organizations – projects are delivered slightly late because of delays in getting the right people in place. It shouldn’t happen. If, at the beginning of the project, you don’t have a good feel for what the requirements and critical path are and whether or not you’ll able to fill them with the team at your disposal, there’s a problem. Sensible project planners also factor in contingency after the critical path analysis, so that unforeseen factors such as sickness can’t derail an entire project.
Audits have a nasty habit of highlighting resource management issues far too late – in most countries, there are strict requirements for the handling of personal data and record-keeping by employers. Timesheets are normally required to be stored for regulatory purposes, so if you have a compliance department breathing down your neck, it’s worth examining your resource management practices as soon as possible, rather than maintaining the status quo and possibly facing a sanction when someone takes a look at the records.
Nicholas Holmes is Head of Marketing at Precursive (www.precursive.co.uk), a cloud solution for simple resource management, timesheets and scheduling. He’s a former journalist and began his career as an Accenture management consultant. Find out more at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/nicholasaholmes/.