Every day there are increasing demands on project managers on the engagements they are managing…because everyone wants something. Project management can often feel like a people pleasing profession. Someone needs a decision quickly. This morning, the client needs a requirements change by tomorrow. A top executive needs a project status update by Friday. And your CFO needs a new budget forecast on your largest project by end of day today. Does any of this sound familiar? If not, you are one of the lucky ones.
But we got into this position knowing this is how it would be…most of us did anyway. And there is no question that resource management on the projects that we manage can be one of the biggest sources of headaches that we encounter on each engagement. Everyone wants to know when you can free up a certain resource so that they can have that person for their project or so that their direct supervisor can have them back for a 3-week effort in between your project phases.
Managing resources on your own project or projects is the first hurdle. But the bigger issue is that usually those resources are working on another – or other - projects as well. And here I’m only talking about the ‘people resources.’ These are the living, breathing resources that can tell you what they’re doing and the other projects they’re working on for other PMs. At least when you hear it verbalized like that, you can do so compartmentalizing in your head of what they have going on, what their current priorities are, and what their general availability is to perform next week’s critical task for you on Project ‘Y’.
When you’re dealing with equipment resources, then you’ve brought into view an entirely different variable…and problem…that makes resource management an even more difficult task. Equipment resources can’t speak for themselves, don’t understand what critical tasks you have assigned to them and certainly can’t work harder and faster to make it seem like they’re doing two tasks at once. In fact, equipment resources can never multi-task.
What the project manager needs is a solid PM tool for not only managing his creative projects, but also for managing his creative resources AND the creative tools needed for each of the projects he is managing. Unfortunately, too many lazy project managers fail to go the distance in this area and end up with over committed resources periodically throughout the engagement – assigned to several different key tasks that are overlapping. And then these same project managers are surprised to find their project running late on key deliverables and a project client who is stressed and dissatisfied. Solid resource management capabilities is a key – and necessary - feature in any project management tool that you want to seriously consider for meeting your scheduling needs.
A good PM scheduling tool that also handles your resource management needs can go a long way in making life for the project manager much easier. Most handle resource management fairly well….but some go the extra distance in doing a great job of analyzing and highlighting areas of resource over usage, under usage, and mis-allocation.
The critical thing for the project manager to handle is to keep all of his PM resources well informed and ensure that they are working cohesively and that everyone is on the same page at all times. The project manager must be well organized because usually the PM is dealing with delivery team members who have other projects to work on that are in various stages of implementation. Excellent and efficient communication is a must, and keeping the project team members accountable for their assigned tasks will help ensure that these busy resources stay well engaged on your project, even though they're likely juggling work on other projects at the same time. And there is no question that the right project management software tool for your creative needs can help the project manager accomplish this.