How Resource Management is Making Your Business More Adaptable

October 6, 2021 | By Donna Fitzgerald

Sometimes, we forget that top-down authority isn’t the only path to change. After all, true agility begins and ends with people, and the only project and portfolio management PPM-oriented job that is directly responsible for people is the resource manager.

Back in the 90s, when the agile movement started coming together, resource managers had no authority and were largely ignored. Now, 20 years later, most organizations would say they are agile or moving in that direction.

Resource management brings the people aspect of project and portfolio management to the top of project considerations. Your team has defined the work that needs to get done, but what about the people available to do it? And how does that consideration drive business agility?

When resource managers lean into their roles as the gatekeepers of people’s time and skills, they can make sure they are building a workforce for the future. Keeping their team members engaged in their work and the company’s strategic initiatives is key. Easier said than done, right?

What makes a business adaptable? Business agility is a buzzword used across industries. According to the Business Agility Institute, “Business Agility is a set of organizational capabilities, behaviors, and ways of working that affords your business the freedom, flexibility, and resilience to achieve its purpose.” (source: https://businessagility.institute/)

So, when organization leaders say they want the freedom and flexibility that agility brings, how can resource managers support that goal while keeping employees engaged? There is no single right answer for this lofty task; instead, you have to take steps in the direction that make the most sense for your organization. Some steps to consider include:

  • Mentoring the team
  • Resource Assignments
  • Community of Practice
  • Skills and Competencies
  • Resource Capacity Planning
  • Resource Allocation
  • A resource management tool

Opening the conversation around work

Figure 1 offers seven possible avenues to begin. This list was intentionally put in random order because only YOU know where your strengths lie and understand how to work within your organization’s culture.

 

Area of influence for resource management graphic

Figure 1 Resource Management Area of Influence

In many cases, mentoring will be the easiest place to make a change. As a resource manager, you can always check in with people to ask how work is going, regardless of whether or not they report directly to you. Are they ok with their assignments? Do they have too many or too few? Are they overwhelmed or bored? Building relationships with the people you work with directly and indirectly can only create positive change for the future.

Resource management is about people. More specifically, it’s about matching specific human beings to work. It’s also about ensuring that these people are operating at their highest potential to ensure the work is good and the company can achieve its objectives. By taking the time to talk to your people, prevent over-allocation, and show them where they can advance in their career, you can increase agility while keeping your employees engaged and happy.

From there, you can start to pair up the needs of the organization in terms of run-the-business projects, strategic initiatives portfolios, and what your employees are interested in doing. You hold the power just by having conversations.

Applying resource skills to company needs

One of the most important things to remember is that people are not plug-and-play names on a screen. If you tailor project assignments to your people’s skills, experience, and goals for the future, you will drastically improve the quality of their assignments and outputs.

Sometimes though, all you can do is advise. Each person is in charge of their own growth and development. Some people will always take on more than you think they can do while others will stick to the familiar and work it at a slow pace.

Making Resource Assignments

Your next step is to understand the nature of the work before you make the assignment. Is the work heads-down thinking work? If so, consider assigning your resources to no more than three projects at a given time. Or, if the work is more collaborative or advisory, consider the outcome, the urgency of the work, and who all needs to be involved before you make the assignment.

In some cases, the project manager may not be capable of giving you this information when they request the assignment. Many say they are “the victim in this situation” and can’t be held responsible because it’s the resource manager who controls their fate. Whether that’s true or not, the resource manager is now in the hot seat.

So how can you have the greatest impact? By ensuring that your people are not assigned to too many things. The negatives of excessive task switching cannot be overstated. It’s counterproductive, kills creativity, and can even lead to clinical depression.

As a manager, you always want your staff to know that you have their best interests in mind. Preventing your people from being assigned too much work is a critical component to ensure they feel taken care of. Teams that feel confident and excited about their work are more likely to give their best work.

Preparing for future resource forecasting

As a resource manager, you can’t focus only on the work that needs to be done today. You also need to be working with your staff to ensure your people have the right skills for the future. And if not, you’ll have to figure out how you can get those skills into your pool of knowledge.

That’s why it’s so important to capture what skills each employee has beyond just their job description. With Tempus Resource’s skills and capabilities feature, you have access to this data in the same system you’d use for resource management.

Taking responsibility for upskilling your people has the power to improve everyone’s life, including your own. By knowing your team’s learning path, you can decide to hire new employees, open requisitions for contractors, or provide insight on the feasibility of even taking on a project. You can control the success or failure of projects based on your knowledge of your team.

Resource management is about people. More specifically, it’s about matching specific human beings to work. It’s also about ensuring that these people are operating at their highest potential to ensure the work is good and the company can achieve its objectives. By taking the time to talk to your people, prevent over-allocation, and show them where they can advance in their career, you can increase agility while keeping your employees engaged and happy.

Tempus Resource, a Gartner PPM Cool Vendor, Hype Cycle Leader and Market Leader in Strategy Execution

Tempus Resource, a Gartner PPM Cool Vendor, Hype Cycle Leader and Market Leader in Strategy Execution, revolutionizes resource management by combining simplicity and sophistication. Tempus simplifies resource forecasting and planning while providing unparalleled insight through industry leading dashboarding, predictive analytics, and what-if analysis capabilities. Contact ProSymmetry today for a free and unlimited access 30-day trial using your data.

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