When it comes to resource management, what do you find to be your biggest challenge? Is it balancing capacity, tackling bottlenecks, or even dealing with limited resource forecasting? In a recent webinar, 37% of attendees said their number one challenge was balancing capacity for supply and demand on their projects.
Finding harmony between supply and demand and allocating resources based on this balance is one of the most important — and difficult — tasks for any product or project management team. Dave Blumhorst, Director of Product Management at Planview, and AJ Shavell, Director of Solutions Consulting at Planview, shared their advice about the top resource management challenges in today’s workforce and how to alleviate them.
The Top Resource Management Challenges Today
Resource management is an important function that includes both capacity planning and allocation. Capacity planning covers the mid-to-long term outlook, while allocation covers the short-term outlook. By tackling each one effectively, teams can not only ensure there are sufficient resources for the work ahead, but they are also able to predict future demand and resource needs, too.
Dave walked through both challenges in our recent webinar on resource management.
Capacity planning is a three-step journey, according to AJ. “You should gain visibility into what people and teams are doing, make the changes you know you can make, and be able to ask the right questions around what happens if something is extended or pushed out.”
Often, a team’s capacity is fixed, while demand becomes increasingly overwhelming. This can really stretch the resources you have; resources can be split up by region, department, practice, and teams.
“In order to resource internal work effectively, you need to find a way to bring the demand back down in line with the number of resources available or find external support,” says Dave. “We are always adding demand, and the ideas of work for these internal groups seem unlimited. You need to find a way to bring that demand in alignment with the number of resources you have.”
Internal work and external work both have different capacity planning approaches.
Prioritization and intake processes need to be part of the capacity planning process, especially for internal work. Dave suggests a funnel approach; take all of the ideas at the top of the funnel and then narrow them down to the most important ones. If you don’t, your team may find themselves overwhelmed and plagued with bottlenecks.
It’s clear that increased demand leads to increased revenue, so it can be really hard to turn down ideas and projects when that likely means turning down revenue. Sometimes you can prioritize based on value, take all of that demand, and then adjust capacity to fit the sales pipeline. This includes bringing in full-time employee consultants, freelancers, agencies, or other partners to fill the capacity you lack with your internal team.
Allocation is all about finding the right people for the right job at the right time. It requires sharp, short-term decision making. There’s no one “right” way to allocate projects and resources, because it depends on the resources you have at your disposal and how your team prefers to work together. Dave mentioned these three methods during the webinar: traditional, Agile teams or value streams, and hybrid.
The traditional method for allocation involves finding people with the right skills and attributes for the necessary project time slots. If someone doesn’t have the right skill or isn’t available for the project’s timeframe, they should be allocated elsewhere.
Plus, in a billable world, teams have to try and balance the skillset and seniority needed with the margins you make on the project to determine the best outcome.
Agile Teams or Value Streams
The Agile methodology is a good one for dedicated allocation to ongoing teams. These teams always work with each other and can pull in new work or projects as demand requires. They accomplish this by adding lower priority items to a backlog.
As the name suggests, the hybrid approach involves allocating to Agile teams within a traditional project structure. These teams are created for the purpose of the project and are disbanded when the project completes. It’s not uncommon in this method for someone to be assigned to multiple teams at once within the project.
Resource Management Differs from Team to Team
But How Should You Move Forward?
This year is about doing more with less and resource management is a big part of that.
During our live webinar, a number of questions came up about how to get started with capacity planning, the best ways to allocate, and more:
- How do you balance resource management within an Agile environment and the difficulties that come with accounting for resources within that long term?
- What resource allocation challenges have you seen with respect to Organizational Change Management, and what do you suggest is the optimal time and method for allocation?
- If you’re just starting out with capacity planning, can you just start with timesheets and actual reporting visibility? Or are capturing allocations critical to getting the right insight?
Dave and AJ tackle these questions directly — in addition to a live Planview demo — in the webinar itself. The good news is that the webinar is on-demand and ready for you to view at any time.
To learn more about how to successfully utilize resource management for your organization, view the full webinar with Dave and AJ here.