Resource Planning in Project Management

Discover the new normal with project management.

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The impact of COVID-19 continues to challenge the ability of professional service organizations to deliver projects with the same speed, efficiency, and profitability as they did in the past.

While some businesses are able to adapt swiftly and successfully to the many changes brought by the pandemic, others are not as lucky. Or as prepared.

Most companies that are unable to shift gears immediately and rework the resources required for project delivery find themselves dealing with substantial delays, even cancellations.

So, let’s turn the spotlight on Resource Planning and see how this critical component of project management can make or break an organization’s ability to cope with the new normal.

What is resource planning in project management?

In project management, a resource refers to what you need to utilize in order to complete a task. Thus, types of resources can translate into persons, materials, facilities, and so on.

For creative and professional services teams, the most important resource is usually people – whether they are full time employees, freelancers, or subcontractors.

Managing resources effectively is vital to completing a project and requires strategic planning.

Because resources are limited, project managers have to utilize them wisely. While multi-tasking has become a buzzword in this generation, the reality is that one person can only be in one place and working on one task at any given time. Any attempt to overwork, overburden, or overstretch a human resource is generally viewed to be counter-productive in so many levels.

Effective resource planning helps project managers deliver on time, regardless of shifting deadlines, changing priorities, and other common project evolutions. Done right, sound resource planning can help optimize resource utilization, reduce the non-billable time resources spent on projects, and ultimately reflect healthier profit margins. Not to mention, cultivate a happier workforce.

Resource planning in the new normal

Discussing leadership in a post-crisis world, McKinsey & Company revealed that many of the companies who have successfully maneuvered the business challenges of the COVID-19 crisis are those who learned to operate "at the speed of relevance."

"This means understanding what information is relevant, encouraging simpler approval chains, and scrambling to put the best talent against critical challenges," the report said. "In the post-crisis world, leaders who enable teams that can embrace new ways of working and leverage technology will thrive while maintaining their personal energy and balance."

This insight is shared by a similar article, which emphasized the damage that COVID-19 is doing to the lives and livelihoods of countless people, and advised business leaders to "treat talent as your scarcest resource" when reimagining the post pandemic organization.

"Talent should underpin every strategic choice and other business decision you’re making right now," they wrote. "Companies that overlook the importance of their people will always miss the upside potential of what their colleagues might have been capable of. They will fail to capitalize on the opportunities that inevitably arise from this or any other economic shock."

As employees emerge from their shelters and return to the workplace, all signs indicate that remote working and virtual teaming are here for the long term. This compels project managers to focus on supervising – rather than directing – their team members moving forward, as well as finding new ways to connect with all stakeholders.

Project managers are expected to be more discerning as they have little choice but to trust individuals to deliver expected outcomes, despite their constricted ability to oversee all their respective inputs.

Resource planning and management in the new normal also require revisiting ongoing projects in order to update and plan resources for the rest of their respective lifecycles.

With the unpredictability of the pandemic, project managers can expect increased absenteeism for a variety of reasons, such as illness, care-giving, travel restrictions, and other protocols in areas where they reside. These factors affect the reliability of resources and will surely impact efficiency.

In planning new projects, leaders have to be aware of the different trends that affect resource planning on a real-time basis in order to anticipate unexpected stumbling blocks to completing a project.

Get better results faster with resource management software

With the unprecedented increase in online collaboration among project teams, it has become essential among forward-thinking companies to implement cloud-based project management solutions. Not only can these tools drive decision-making with actionable business insights, they also augment the evolving human experience by automating many crucial and iterative functions.

"The crisis is reminding companies of the importance of using facts and insights to drive decision making," they said. "Yet many companies lack a ‘single source of truth’ when it comes to data, or they don’t have ecosystem partners that can help them look at problems from multiple vantage points. Instead, some organizations face the unenviable task of connecting complex processes and mining data trapped in antiquated data systems. A step-change improvement is needed. The ability to gather, organize, interpret, and act on data and analytics will be the defining competitive differentiator of our lifetimes. Companies that embrace it will have an edge."

An award-winning resource management and planning software like Mavenlink can help people and technology interact productively and profitably, paving the way for a more seamless transition to the new normal.

Using a powerful and agile project management software can bring many advantages to resource planning -- gains that can help organizations continue meeting client needs and achieving business objectives despite unpredictable conditions.

Plan and schedule resources with agility

The most basic and fundamental benefit of using a robust project management software is knowing that the right people with the right skills are being deployed at the right time in the right places. It also helps to manage resource schedules, ensuring that team members are not caught between too much or too little work.

In terms of capacity planning, using a PM tool in planning your projects helps you to identify which resources are available and understand how much work they can take on. Increased visibility and control over resourcing also helps you monitor the completion of assigned tasks, making it easier to re-allocate or create a resource when there are changes in the project schedule.

Most advanced resource management applications also incorporate financial information or integrate with CRM and accounting solutions. This provides visibility into the cost benefit of re-allocating resources to other project tasks, as well as overall financial health.

When a project gets bigger or your company wins a new client, resource planning software helps you scale predictably by showing where you can pull billable resources to achieve the necessary tasks.

Finally, resource planning applications offer reporting tools that give project managers complete control over their projects in real time. An industry-leading business intelligence layer, innovative project management software like Mavenlink can deliver dozens of expert-built reports to answer questions about fees, margins, utilization, and availability.

Dynamic resource planning made easy

Like many professional service organizations, CloudCraze started out by using multiple disparate systems to manage projects and resources. Bogged down by manual methods of data entry, they realized the need to find a project management tool that would help them solve critical challenges in resource management in order to scale profitably.

By shifting to Mavenlink, their billable utilization doubled within a year owing to the increased visibility into data, resources, budgets, and burn rates. According to consulting manager Tim Messink: "We have many projects going at once, with a team of 15 people. Every team member has multiple things happening at once. Mavenlink makes it easy to keep track of all the moving parts."

Business analyst Zac Miller added that their new solution also provided an enhanced collaboration and communication hub for all the project team and other stakeholders. "The team was really impressed by the collaborative nature of Mavenlink. Being able to keep communication with our system architects within the activity feed channel was critical."

"We invite all our clients, partners, and subcontractors into the Mavenlink workspace," he added. "As clients have questions, they can add posts and track an entire conversation in one place. In many cases this replaced email. It is a more transparent and efficient way to engage."

CloudCraze’s main reason for adopting Mavenlink was to improve the company’s resource planning and management process. They were not disappointed. "No one has planning and scheduling functionality like Mavenlink," observed Tim. "It has helped us plan better, and manage change better. Clients change scope, it takes longer to complete a task than planned— these things happen. Now we have the tools to manage that change so much more efficiently."

Today, more than ever, managing change is vital to maintaining agility and resilience in facing the challenges of a post-pandemic business environment.

"There is no way we could do what we are doing today using spreadsheets," said Tim. "I couldn’t imagine doing it without Mavenlink."

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