In part one of this series, we talked about how resource planning is key to the success of any long term project. Without proper planning, there is no way to effectively plan resources and schedule accordingly while being able to rely on that data to continue with workflows.
We continued the discussion of successful resource management in part two by talking about governance and adaption to change, as the fundamental principles for successful resource execution.
The final step in our exploration of effective resource management is tracking and measurement. And as we all know, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so setting up the portfolio to facilitate tracking gives you the ability to measure your effectiveness. While measuring and tracking seem obvious, many organizations fall short. There is a common misconception that tracking and measuring will lead to micromanagement. While that may happen, the benefits outweigh the cost of internal backlash. Here are three critical reasons why:
Keep Resources on Track
Tracking resources in a real-time format gives you the visibility to see where they are at and where they are headed. If projects start to derail or stall, you will know right away and enable yourself take the necessary actions to course-correct. Without the visibility into where your resources are spending their time, there is no way to identify why projects are missing the mark and the discussion to get them back on track gets delayed or happens when it is too late. You end up continuing down your course because the organization has sunk significant costs into the initiative and it is easier to just finish up the project – even though you know this may not lead to positive business impact.
You can only report your impact to the organization if you can easily report activities and outcomes to your stakeholders, so it’s critical to measure the appropriate metrics. While most project managers know there are many other metrics that matter in order to make projects and the entire portfolio successful, in order to speak in terms the business will understand, it needs to be in ROI terms. Whether you are justifying why a project needs more budget or resource investment, or arguing to NOT invest in a project, ROI is the one metric that can’t be argued with. In order to successfully measure ROI, however, you will need an accurate measure of both the benefit (value, revenue, score) and the cost of the investment. This means tracking the actual effort and expense against the projected budget of the project. This may seem trivial, but requires setting expectations upfront on why and how the organization will capture the actuals. Although this may require a cultural change, the value in the effort will yield positive results.
We all like to live in the now, especially when it comes to projects and resources. We are designed to put execution ahead of future planning. One area of missed opportunity is leveraging existing project and resource time data to forecast the next time around. Having actuals is invaluable when for planning portfolios, creating hiring plans, and justifying your decisions. Many projects have some degree of ambiguity in them, but the majority will have repeatable patterns that can be identified and optimized with each iteration. With real-time data on resource time and true cost of projects, forecasting future investments become better. This accurate forecasting leads to increased trust and predictability – which is always a good thing in project management.
Resource management is tough; it is the biggest challenge for organizations and s typically the area with the most opportunity for improvement and gain. It may never be perfect, but can always be better, and having the right plan of action and tools in place can make a big impact on the organization as a whole. So keep in mind each stage of the resource management lifecycle, from planning to execution and change, through tracking and measurement to get a holistic understanding of where your organizations is and what adjustments need to take place. We have all heard the saying, “begin with the end in mind;” in the case of resource management your end goal coupled with the adjustments along the way will result in the greatest business impact for your organization.
For a more in depth look at managing the resource management lifecycle, take a look at our whitepaper Your Resources Are Falling Through The Cracks: A smarter approach to resource forecasting, management, and accountability.