Quality project delivery hinges on the financial benefits utilizing the right resources bring just as much as the project’s actual feasibility. And everyone knows that the right quantity and quality of the right resources is critical to getting things done for a seamless project lifecycle. The problem starts when all resources are on board but are overbooked or under-utilized. Further, you may find that one department has the resources while other departments are missing the critical staff and need them. Stiff competition for the same or higher competencies commences.
This is where resource planning comes in. While a strategic resource plan looks after your enterprise’s future-well being, a tactical approach lets you meet short-term goals. You can then track and measure the goals you hit. What’s more, you even have sufficient time and bandwidth to revisit and revise those strategies that didn’t align with business objectives. Project managers are tasked with delivering change, implementing strategic initiatives and innovating the project landscape with a combination of experiential instincts, project management tools and resource management. And here is how you start your sojourn into tactical resource planning:
How to Start with Tactical Resource Planning?
1. Centralized Visibility into Project and Resource Calendars
The more visual the information before you, the better equipped you are to make informed decisions, smartly.
Given how laborious it is to sift through multiple silos of paperwork manually, the plethora of project resource management suites that digitize project records is a welcome change. Besides syncing existing workforce schedules to the project calendar, unconditional visibility lets you have a high-level view of multiple inflight projects running in parallel with a drill down of how your workforce is shared across these projects.
Besides narrowing down the search for the right resource profiles from the inbuilt skills repository, centralized visibility displays effort bandwidth on previous projects, thus ensuring future resource estimates are generated scientifically. In other words, projects can be scheduled and billed across the lifecycle based on a resource’s actual and forecasted efforts. Not only does it ensure that your project costs stay within the ceiling but also sees to it that your projects are optimally staffed at all times. This way, even, even if unexpected absences occur once the project’s underway, resources on stand by can be requisitioned to replace unavailable staff.
A scientific resource scheduler within the project management dashboard generates an interactive resource chart that lets you correct imbalances, re-assign existing schedules and deploy secondary resources to compensate for productivity lapses. This way, the project activities follow the expected completion timelines while utilizing a relevant workforce.
2. Estimate Resource capacity against demand fluctuations
Considering how the project landscape shapeshifts to accommodate market uncertainties, it’s all the more important to have a resource capacity that is just as flexible to match any shifts in BAU activities.
The trouble with unscientific hiring and firing measures are that you risk benching or losing potential altogether. Still worse, your existing workforce is overworked until new hires are acquired and trained. Besides fighting rising labor costs, the time taken for everyone to master their roles results in productivity losses, if when stretched risks delaying the project delivery altogether.
An inbuilt resource inventory records all resource profiles by their availability, seniority, location, core, and secondary competencies, training/reskilling undertaken (or yet to be taken) as well as performances measured on previous projects. It then generates a skills report based on the quantity of the right competencies utilized on all available hours. The demand forecasting component predicts the influx of work and classifies them by their constraints, expenses, complexity, and type of staff needed, which lets you find the right people for it on time. What’s more, you can ascertain if the right and available competencies were/are being utilized on previous and ongoing projects. With accurate resource effort estimates, you can foresee their availability to take up similar work in the future.
Given how new work overrides ongoing priorities and existing tasks, the risk of repeating work or leaving mission-critical and lengthy tasks for the nth hour remains a distinct possibility. Your capacity would accordingly need to be re-assessed in terms of their capabilities to prevent stretching the available bandwidth. This involves a skills inventory This way, you can take up new work whilst ensuring there’s no pending work or lag in resolving issues escalated.
3. Requisition the right resources scientifically
Projects often commence without all the right hands on deck due to the inability to respond to resource requests raised before and during the project start.
While small businesses won’t have trouble spotting the right people instantly, medium-to-large scale enterprises see chaos when more time and endless emails are sent out to requisition the right people. After all, without a business software that streamlines and stores enterprise-wide resource requests by which projects need them, when they’re needed and which departmental project manager requested them, the right employees go under the radar despite being competent and available.
A tactical resource plan sees how resource schedules can be optimized prior to a project’s start and end dates to ensure any resource requests raised are resolved in time. This includes assessing the original requests raised during the project initiation as well as newer requests once the project is underway. Projects fall into three categories, those being
- Mutually exclusive: Project work that contains tasks and/ or activities unrelated to each other and requires different skills.
- Mutually inclusive/ Interlinked: A fraction of your resource pool would have to be shared between tasks, which influences their workload throughout the project schedule.
- Labor-intensive and time-sensitive: meaning a large number of diverse resourcing contracts are needed due to the volume and complexity of work involved.
Once the dependencies between preceding and succeeding tasks are established, you’ll know where, when and how to deploy your existing capacity. Additionally, resource requests let you gauge the sufficiency of your capacity by workforce strength and quality. You can then spread workloads across the project types above to ensure assignments don’t suffer from a surplus of irrelevant resources or a shortage of the right ones.
4. Bridge gaps between skilled labor and project teams
As the workforce reshapes itself for the future, you can’t afford to guesstimate the availability and bandwidth of your existing workforce. Generation Z, i.e, the workforce succeeding today’s millennial workforce will particularly be interested in upskilling in line with a rapidly evolving business landscape, an observation supported by Forbes’ research. A tactical resource plan applied from the grassroots level, however, points you to those resources who upskilled to newer business-centric competencies.
You can then gauge future assignments for the entirety of your workforce’s association with the project under consideration. The first step to bridging skills gaps is to explore relevant training programs and size up those resources whose potential remains benched. By investing in the right reskilling measures, not only can your staff capture newer requirements in a shorter span of time, but they can also stay work-ready for the future projects that align strategically with business goals. Project managers can accordingly access updated resource dashboards to determine which staff are immediately deployable and bridge project vacancies against the time-sensitivity of tasks.
Millennials have earned the tag of being restless job-hoppers, so it’s a given that they won’t stay long for a firm with a history of overworking or under-utilizing their staff. Bridging skills gaps ensure your staff isn’t biting off more than they can chew but instead remain sufficiently challenged as they orient around new technologies. A tactical resource plan also lets you classify and sequence tasks by their priority and dependencies, thus ensuring the time between tasks are optimized. This way, as attention spans reduce and expectations shift, the focus will be on upskilling to be futuristically relevant. On this note, project teams that are trained in business knowledge areas (communication, leadership and change management) besides technical know-how will adapt more fluidly to a high-maturity firm.
5. Use Artificial Intelligence for task automation
Tools with Artificial Intelligence components have been hailed as a project savior in field services, given that automation streamlines several project workflows and ensures that more work can get done in a shorter span of time.
Having a dedicated AI tool as part of your resource plan not only lets you retrieve actionable insights concerning your resource pool’s positioning and deployments for months at a stretch but also lets you inject flexibility into both project and resource schedules alike. It generates resource heatmaps and points you calendar conflicts indicating activities that overlap. Thus compromising your workforce’s availability
More importantly, it ensures different resources are on hand in accordance with the complexity and requirements outlined in individual work packages. This way, your project teams stay informed beforehand of the endeavors that follow and that no task suffers from last-minute insufficiencies or technical glitches.
Getting your short-term plans is the key to sustained business growth. With these 5 steps, you’ll set realistic expectations concerning the project pipeline. Tactical resource planning will familiarize you with resource-centric knowledge before the shift to a strategic plan to shape up project and resource efficiency scales.