In part one of this blog series, I discussed why resource management should start with resource planning. Prioritizing and scheduling people to ensure they are working on the right projects at the right time is critical because it does not matter if you are executing well, unless you are executing on the right things well. I will now shift the discussion from portfolio-level resource prioritization to project-centric resource execution.
One of the advantages of prioritizing resources and having organizational agreement is that you can now redirect your focus to getting things done. On the surface, talking about execution may not sound interesting because as project management professionals, we all believe execution is one of our strong points. To test this theory, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your resources setup to execute on-time and on-budget?
- Can you confidently say your project resources are not over-booked or stretched too thin?
- Can you easily request and justify resource requests if something changes with your project?
- Is there an agreed upon resource assignment process for managers and project managers?
You should be able to answer “yes” to all of those questions, if not, then there is room for improvement in your resource execution approach. Let’s start with two fundamental principles of effective resource execution – governance and adaption to change.
Proper governance structure ensures resources are not constantly being pulled in multiple directions due to “shiny objects” coming to the forefront, which is one of the most common reasons why projects fail. By deploying a resource request and approval process, your organization will instill governance by maintaining productivity, balancing workloads to keep resources from being over or underworked, and matching skillset of resources to the requested work.
But what happens when things change? One of my first managers said, “A plan (or forecast) is incorrect the minute you put it down on paper.” Your environment is constantly changing due to market, competitive or customer shifts – causing new work with higher importance to become a priority. Resources get pulled, projects get added, or initiatives get put on hold. This is where adaption to change becomes important. Confidently handling change, while keeping you in control, requires you to adjust the plan (or replan), run what-if scenarios, assess impact or risk, and communicate how the team will absorb the changes to successfully deliver the project or initiative on-time and on-budget. How many times have you gone into a postmortem meeting and one of the findings revolved around resources being moved with no concessions to support successful execution?
Successful implementation of these principles requires communication of real-time data, or else the conversation quickly becomes subjective or political. Plenty of software solutions can help with real-time data, and if you are looking for one, make sure it has the following capabilities:
- Request workflows for instilling resource governance
- Workbench for standardizing resource approvals and allocations
- What-If scenario planners to adjust resources when things change
Initially, adding another software tool may seem daunting or even unachievable in your organization due to budgets, lack of executive buy-in, or simply you are too busy. One simple question to ask yourself is “what is the cost of NOT doing resource management?”
To learn more about enterprise resource management, download the whitepaper Your Resources Are Falling Through The Cracks: A smarter approach to resource forecasting, management, and accountability.