Whether your organization calls it Resource Management, capacity planning, resource forecasting, or staff planning, we’re all talking about the same thing: effectively allocating resources to execute your projects in the most efficient way possible.
After the leadership team decides which projects are critical to fulfill the company’s strategic initiatives, how do you know if what they’re asking is possible? Resource Management is the key to determining if you have the resources and budget available to complete those initiatives when needed.
What’s the difference between Resource Management and Project Portfolio Management?
Project Portfolio Management (PPM) focuses largely on the tasks required to execute a project. While PPM may take into account multiple projects, it is still structured to evaluate projects based on their individual requirements as opposed to how those requirements could create conflict across other projects in your portfolio. This can get muddy when a resource assigned to Project A is needed to kick off Project B, but Project A is running past schedule. A task-only view of the portfolio means this conflict might not come to light until it’s actually an issue.
Resource Management takes a holistic view of the entire project portfolio by broadening the planning horizon beyond task-based planning and focusing instead on how resources are being allocated and utilized throughout the organization. So in the example we used above, a Resource Manager would be able to identify the potential conflict between Project A and Project B long before it became an issue and then effectively plan alternate approaches to delivery.
Understanding resource allocation
When we talk about resources, we’re referring not only to your organization’s current employees, but also to their various skillsets, knowledge, experience, and availability. If certain skills are limited to only a few people, how can you properly sequence projects to prevent bottlenecking? That’s the power of Resource Management.
Research shows that over-allocation quickly leads to employee burnout. Disengaged team members are going to be less productive and more likely to turn over, leading to even more resource constraints. Not to mention, if an employee has been assigned too much work to complete within a reasonable timeframe, project timelines are going to extend. Those delays could lead to more delays on future projects now forced to wait on resources that are unavailable…and the domino effect continues.
Effective Resource Management means that you can prevent over-allocation, anticipate bottlenecks, and quickly adapt whenever necessary. You can also track actuals against your plan to see if the project is progressing the way you forecasted, then make changes to future forecasts if necessary. By replacing a “wishful thinking” approach with actual data, you can form a realistic strategy to deliver on the projects that fulfill the company’s strategic business objectives.
When circumstances change
Let’s face it: even the best-laid plans with the most thoughtful approaches and tons of supporting data are still going to run into obstacles. Unanticipated challenges arise, critical initiatives rear their heads, markets shift in fundamental ways — we’ve all seen it.
Tools like Tempus Resource’s What-if analysis, which allows you to test hypothetical scenarios without altering your data, mean you can stay flexible in the face of change. When you can see exactly how a project’s timeline and costs will change if you shift resources, or how other work is affected if you push a project to a different quarter, you can make the most informed decisions regarding the entire project portfolio. The best Resource Management tools are the ones that allow you to step back and easily get a holistic view of all the dependencies between projects.
The more effectively you can forecast your resource needs, the more efficiently you can allocate resources across critical projects. By allowing you to anticipate bottlenecks or spot unrealistic deadlines in the planning phase, Resource Management enables you to match the right resources to the right work to maximize project portfolio success.