Work Smarter: 5 Steps to Proactive Resource Management
By Kevin Kern
With dozens of IT projects in play at any given time, it can be a challenge to know who’s working on what, when they’ll be finished and what resources are available—not to mention which staffers can dedicate time to new projects and innovation.
If this sounds like your organization, you’re not alone—according to a recent Gartner survey, only slightly more than one-third of organizations have general workplace visibility policies in place. Furthermore, resource allocation is one of the biggest problems with project management teams. Without having the visibility into your resources, allocation will always be challenging, if not impossible.
The old adage “work smarter, not harder” certainly applies to IT resource management. Follow these five tips to gain more clarity into how your resources are currently being used and learn how to more proactively allocate them—while maximizing collaboration, agility and responsiveness at the same time.
- Who’s on first? Take inventory: Start by gaining a clear understanding of how your resources are being used today. Chart out current staffing patterns, from full-time employees to hourly contractors. Using a cloud-based PPM solution that automatically collects and categorizes resource data can dramatically simplify the effort and keep information up to date as variables change.
Divide staff by common job areas or titles to identify the number of employees in each role. Next, identify which employees are in highest demand—if they’re unrealistically allocated to multiple projects at once, these popular performers can lead to bottlenecks and scheduling delays.
Finally, make a list of all IT projects in play and prioritize them by timeline, then pair the available resources with projects according to skill-sets needed and availability. Include back-ups to account for vacations, leaves or unplanned absences. You’re now ready to manage the present while you focus on the future.
Look ahead to planned projects: Identify new IT projects being proposed for the next three to six months. Assign staff based on skills and projected availability. If—and when—projects are sidelined, the back-up in this case becomes other projects that staff can work on to maintain productivity while delayed projects get back on track.
Strengthen working relationships and boost productivity: Achieving peak team outputs requires close collaboration. Start with the basics of team building by creating team names, fleshing out end-user personas and making use of virtual meeting and collaboration tools to build relationships among team members, whether they’re all in the same office building or are far-flung around the globe. These steps and solutions can become lifesavers (and project-savers) when issues arise that require cooperation to solve.
Make the team’s success everyone’s goal: It goes without saying that periodic performance-goal setting is key to managing accountability. Yet relying solely on the traditional annual or semi-annual review approach leaves out the X-factor of human motivation.
Give employees (and contractors) a stake in meeting performance and project goals to incentivize them to become co-owners to meet deadlines and manage the resources of the organization. When your staff is clear on their responsibilities, and understand the benefits of meeting and exceeding expectations, they transcend the realm of being “resources” and join the team as full collaborators.
Of course, to get the best performance out of your resources, it’s key to create a culture of responsiveness to IT staffers’ needs as well. Where possible, allow flexibility in scheduling and encourage time for personal and professional development. This can pay great dividends, especially when tight timelines in the future may require the same resources to change their plans or put off planned growth opportunities to help the team meet deadlines.
Managing IT projects and resources can seem to be as much art as science. The outlined steps above can help you get a handle on your current and forecasted resource needs, as well as, enhance morale, productivity and efficiency. Look for ways where automated solutions can provide greater transparency and visibility into staffing patterns and projects, allowing you to focus on the “human” side of motivation, collaboration and team building. It all adds up to more proactive resource management that translates directly to a more responsive IT department and ultimately contributing to what matters most – a healthy bottom line.
Kevin Kern currently serves as Innotas‘ President and CEO, leveraging his 20 years of operational experience with high-growth software companies. Prior to being CEO, Kevin was Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing and was instrumental to the continued growth of Innotas by significantly expanding both the account base and company revenues during his tenure.