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This post is part of our complete series on Resource Management.
Agency resource management is vital for the successful project management of creative agencies.
You’ve probably seen this one before. You’re deep into your creative project and you lose a critical resource. Or you’re ready for that specific resource that you were guaranteed so long ago; you've waited for just the right time to bring them onto the project and team so as not to waste budget and now they are nowhere to be found…because they’ve been committed to another project.
It’s painful, but it’s also a reality.
What do you do? How do you react? And equally important – how do you tell your client that you now have a big – and somewhat unfillable – hole in your team?
The answer lies in an old English adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
And what is this valuable ounce of prevention?
None other than project resource management.
This, in a nutshell, means: managing all the resources involved in a project and ensuring that they are used in an effective, timely, and budget–wise fashion.
This brings us to the next question:
What is a resource in project management?
A ‘resource’ refers to anything involved in the makeup of a project, whether it’s people, materials, finances, or time.
A resource manager needs to think like a chess Grandmaster. They need to be not just a few moves ahead, but ready for almost anything. A Grandmaster has a plan for each piece, from pawn to king, and adjusts it as the game progresses. Likewise, in resource management, you create a plan and adjust it when projects are in need of different talents than you originally planned for.
When you integrate resource management into project planning, you avoid a whole host of ugly problems, like:
- Not having the right resources available at the right time.
- Resources spending too long on non-billable tasks.
- Employee unhappiness and slow turnover rates.
- Under or over-utilization of resources.
All these problems eventually lead to what agencies obviously want to avoid: profit loss.
So, let’s discuss:
What are the Key Components of Resource Management?
Having a comprehensive view of all your projects and resources is critical to your agency’s success. Planning allows PMs to produce a realistic timeline and budget, which enables your team to meet deadlines and stay organized. Utilizing the organizational tools of resource management software can help automate processes by streamlining schedules, storing files and forms, and managing workloads, thus enabling PMs to work faster and more efficiently.
Maintaining open communication within your team is essential to a project’s success. Not only do team members need to stay informed of timelines and deadlines, but they also need to be aware of the current situation of the project. When PMs create an environment of transparency, collaboration is encouraged and conflicts are mitigated.
Effective communication also inspires accountability—a defining factor of success. Simply put, when a team is passionate about their work, they deliver results. Also, when realistic expectations are outlined, team members are aware of their responsibilities.
Most PMs are accustomed to wearing many hats; but above all else, they are leaders. Just as stellar supervision can produce winning campaigns, inept leadership can lead to internal problems, sending the project toward failure.
A PM is analogous to a sports coach. A world-class coach remains cool under pressure and inspires their team to victory before a match. As a PM, lead with enthusiasm, empathy, and integrity. Commit to your team members and express the direction for the project. And no matter the situation, make sure your team knows that they count on you and that you have their backs.
Part of being a smart PM is knowing your resources and how to best utilize them. No matter the size of your team, there will be times when you have a shortage of resources. Developing a proactive plan that identifies and responds to shortages or negative circumstances will help minimize risk.
Knowing the capacity of your team can also have some very positive impacts on the future of your agency. Keeping an organized record of processes and utilized resources will provide a convenient outline for prospective projects, and help to improve policies and procedures. And paying attention to your utilized resources will prevent repeat mistakes and make your team more efficient.
While this may seem obvious, it is also the most important facet of resource management. In the world of project management, charts, graphs, and acronyms often overshadow the human element. And while histograms and matrices provide the analytic framework for success, it’s important to remember that resources are people, too.
As a PM, it is important to create a collaborative work environment for your team. This involves utilizing your communication and leadership skills to inspire and motivate your team. By remaining organized, emphasizing transparency, and utilizing your resources, you are sure to guide your team to success.
Now that we’ve established the 5 main tenets of resource management, let’s discuss how you can go about achieving them.
Tips and Tools for Project Resource Management
1. Resource Pool
Knowing what you need begins with knowing what you have. Resource pooling centralizes information, making it easier for PMs to administer tasks across a variety of projects. Creating and maintaining an active resource pool provides an accurate picture of resource availability and streamlines project delivery. This includes having the right level of competencies at your disposal, as well as hiring or outsourcing talent, as and when you need to.
2. Resource Forecast
Just because you have someone who can work for you, doesn’t mean that he or she is available to do so. Compile a resource forecast based on project schedules and team members’ availability. Connect resources to project budgets and timelines. Monitor your progress against both the former and the latter. Weekly reviews of your resource forecast and usage will help you keep your projects within budget and on time by allowing you to deploy your team members where and when they are needed. Maintain profitability by consistently comparing resource actuals to projections.
Check out Workamajig’s Resource Forecasting Checklist to start forecasting like a boss.
3. Resource request
A formal resource request process can help your agency optimize resource usage by ensuring that the resource is added to the proper projects at the proper time. You can prioritize assignments based on project plans and documented requests instead of assigning resources to teams that shout the loudest or to work that is more urgent but less important than other tasks. Frequently remind executive management of your project plans and resource requests. Escalate unfulfilled resource requests as needed to keep your team on track.
4. Approach Timesheets From a New Perspective
Timesheets can be the bane of the creative industry. But thanks to project management software, they don’t have to be. Keep things simple, make submissions easy for your employees, and be flexible about how time is measured. Timesheets should be about understanding business processes, not about penalizing your employees.
5. Maintain a Consistent, Updated Schedule
Of everything. Having a centralized area that tracks all your resources will help you manage workloads, streamline scheduling and eliminate employee conflicts. Make sure you set realistic time parameters, assign resources appropriately and manage quality to reduce project errors.
6. Create a Contingency Plan
Resource leveling is a skill that is required when there is a resource shortage, which is a reality, no matter the size of your team. What exactly is resource leveling in project management? Resource leveling means allocating project resources in a way that resource capacity is neither over or under-allocated. Developing a proactive contingency plan that identifies and responds to potential shortages or negative circumstances will help minimize risk and prevent panic, should there ever be a problem.
7. Incorporate Capacity Tracking Reports
What is resource capacity in project management? Resource capacity planning is the process of determining your team’s ability to respond to demands for your services. More specifically, it is the maximum amount of work that your organization is capable of completing, given your allocated resources. Realistically gauging your team’s capacity will help you foresee future needs and allow you to adapt to them.
8. Keep Your Team Happy
After all, your project’s success is dependent on them. Build ownership and value individuality. Encourage employees to leave their comfort zones. Keep your team informed. And never underestimate the power of a well-developed incentive program. When they are appropriately recognized for performance, employees have increased morale, job satisfaction, and involvement.
9. Use Technology to Automate Processes
Technology has vastly improved resource management. The best resource management software routes estimates organizes staffing availability, and manages workloads, enabling PMs to do things faster and more efficiently. Software automation saves a huge amount of time, money, and effort and allows managers to focus on your project’s most precious assets: your team members.
5 Benefits of Implementing Resource Management Software
The advancement in technology over the past decade has undoubtedly created urgency across business-related activities. Now, more than ever, time is critical. Automation of tasks is the key to increasing operational efficiency. When it comes to your resources, your agency needs a configurable system that can automatically update itself, regularly and accurately.
Automated resource planning software can continuously track your human supply and demand chain and provide you with insight into your needs. You’ll be able to identify skill shortages and training requirements, which will provide real-time visibility into your resource capability and capacity to deliver on projects.
Keeping track of payroll, time sheets, and labor costs can be tedious and time-consuming. However, having a comprehensive view of all your employees is important to increase accountability and boost your agency’s bottom line. Not only does resource management software ensure that all labor and time information is recorded, it enables managers to easily access, assess, and analyze this invaluable data.
The best software also includes integrated accounting features, which automate a lot of payroll procedures. Implementing resource management software ensures that all human costs are accounted for, making the processing of payroll data, invoices, and billing systems more efficient.
Reduced Admin Costs
Gone are the days of homegrown- and spreadsheet-based resource management systems. Centralized, automated resource management systems reduce errors and the cumbersome nature of upkeep. Not only does software improve revenue, maximize earning potential, and increase customer relationships, it greatly reduces administrative costs associated with out-of-date systems.
What’s more, your organization has increased visibility and control over its operations—ensuring that you’re able to focus on things that matter, such as concepting and creating.
Resource conflicts take a serious toll on revenue. At their worst, unresolved conflicts can result in missed revenue opportunities and reduced customer satisfaction. Resource management software ensures that whenever resources are double booked, or a project plan has been derailed, you can easily identify the conflicts.
By providing your agency with real-time visibility, you’ll be able to alleviate any future resource conflicts. Configurable planning programs accurately predict future resource requirements well ahead of schedule. By storing the necessary details of your resources, you’ll be able to quickly respond to all problems that may arise.
Human resources are money. Having a comprehensive overview of your individual team members allows you to assess how well your resource pool is being utilized on a daily, weekly, quarterly, or yearly basis. By analyzing this data, managers can easily identify where hours can be reduced—resulting in a reduction of operational costs and an increase in profit margins.
Now, to most easily and effectively put all that into practice, try Workamajig’s all-inclusive resource management software. With Workamajig, all the planning, scheduling, and assigning that used to take up hours of your valuable time, turns into a rather profitable walk in the park! Because, as mentioned above, the more efficient your resource management process is, the more profit you make on every project. And as you’ll see for yourself, you can’t get much more efficient than Workamajig!
Start winning with your project resources today.