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Originally published 3/22/2018 & Updated 12/5/2022
If you're part of a creative team, you know that resource management can be tricky. On one hand, you need to be efficient and use your resources wisely. On the other hand, you don't want to stifle creativity by being too rigid. There are so many moving parts and pieces, and it can be hard to keep track of everything.
That's why resource management software is so important for creative teams. It helps you stay organized and efficient, while still giving you the flexibility to be creative.
With the right software, you can keep track of all your resources and make sure they're being used efficiently. Resource management tools can help you track project deadlines, budget restrictions, and more. It can also help you identify areas where you can improve your process.
There are a lot of different resource management software options out there, so it's important to find one that's a good fit for your team. Once you find the right software, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it!
Let’s talk about project resource management and how a system like Workamajig can help you make the most out of your project’s resources.
What Are The 3 Types Of Project Resources?
1. Human Resource
In resource management, a human resource is any person who can contribute to the success of a project. This includes employees, contractors, vendors, and volunteers.
Human resources are often divided into two categories: human capital and human assets. Human capital refers to the skills and knowledge that employees bring to the organization. This includes their education, experience, and training. Human assets are the physical and mental abilities that employees use to perform their jobs. This includes their health, strength, and dexterity.
Regardless of what type of project you handle, you’ll need people to fulfill the task requirements. And for creative agencies, these can be your most valuable resource. They happen to be the most complex as well.
2. Material Resource
Material project resources include equipment, hardware, software, information, licenses, and others that a project team will need to complete the project. These can already be owned by the company, or would still need to be acquired.
For creative teams, material resources would mostly be licenses for software and information on approvals. If there are supplies that need to be bought or hardware that needs to be upgraded (and maintained), you’ll also need to ensure that your team gets them on time.
Ensuring that your team has all the materials they need to produce quality work falls on your plate as a project manager.
3. Financial Resource
Also known as capital or cost resources, financial resources for a project are measured in currency. Financial resources help you pay for all other project resources –the salaries of your team and the funds to procure equipment and renew software licenses.
The source of your financial resources will mostly be your clients. However, there might be occasions where they’ll be investors or donations, depending on what type of creative project you’re taking on.
Managing your financial resources is key so you can provide the other types of resources that your project needs.
What Are The Key Challenges In Resource Management For Creative Agencies?
In 2021, poor resource management was marked as the number three top challenges of organizations surveyed in the Wellington report for the State Of Project Management 2021. Other issues cited –lack of project funding and lack of appropriate software –are also part of project resource management.
Source: State Of Project Management 2021
With such a big impact on project success, let’s talk about the key challenges you can anticipate in regard to resource management.
Underutilization Or Overallocation
One of the most important metrics for an agency is “utilization rate”. This is a measure of how much of your available resources are being utilized over a reporting period.
There are two utilization rate metrics you should track:
- Total utilization rate: The percentage of time resources spend on any work, including administrative work such as generating reports, answering emails, etc.
- Billable utilization rate: The percentage of time you can bill clients for.
For optimum agency operations, you should maximize your billable utilization rate and minimize the time spent on non-billable work. Any time your resources spend on administrative work is time you can’t bill your clients for, hurting your profit margins and even affecting employee morale.
Just as your resources can be underutilized, they can also be overcommitted. This is when their time is spread over too many activities, causing a drop in the quality of their output, long-term productivity, and job satisfaction.
On paper, resource overallocation might sound like a better problem than underutilization (since it shows that you have at least enough work). However, constantly overworking your people will dramatically affect employee happiness and increase your turnover rates.
Resource overallocation usually happens for three reasons:
- There aren’t enough resources to handle the existing workload
- There is a change in the workload because of project scope changes
- There aren’t enough backup resources to fill in for departing workers or inflated workloads
If you constantly ask your employees to overcommit themselves, you’re not doing a good job of forecasting your resources and preparing for increased demand.
Project management tasks will always have dependencies. One of the core tenets of project management is making sure that dependencies are managed so that no one has to wait on pending deliverables to begin their work.
Foresight will require data. You should know which of your resources deliver on time, and which resources get habitually late. You should also understand delivery rates for different tasks. If your developers have to regularly wait for deliverables from your design team, perhaps you’re not estimating their workload accurately.
While you can’t always do away with accidents and emergencies, proper resource planning can help you anticipate or spot them as early as possible. This way, you can work on finding solutions before a major impact is caused.
Hiring And Employee Retention
New trends, changing project scopes, agency growth, employee turnover - so many things can impact your hiring needs. As a project manager, it is one of your key responsibilities to predict the kind of resources you’ll need in the future.
How you predict these resource gaps is a major resource management challenge. You should be able to estimate:
- What skills you’ll require in the short and long term, keeping in mind industry trends and business goals?
- Which of your key resources are likely to drop or delay the project based on past behavior?
- Whether you have backup resources in case a key resource becomes unavailable
All of this requires robust data. You should have performance and scheduling data for every resource at an individual level. This will help you estimate current and future needs for both full-time and part-time employees.
Once you have your team, employee retention will be your next responsibility.
On average, companies spend $1,252 per employee on training new employees. This is why a high company turnover is a massive issue. You won’t just have fewer resources for your project. You’ll also need to virtually spend over $1000 to get a new hire up to speed.
Source: Quantum Workplace
So, how do you meet these resource management challenges? One way is by investing in tools for resource management. Let’s talk about how a tool like Workamajig can help you improve your ability to allocate, manage, and estimate resources.
Workamajig is a project management tool built specifically for creative agencies. It allows you to consolidate all the information you need about your project, in one platform. From tasks to finances, Workamajig can help you keep track of your human, material, and financial resources.
Managing Human Resources With Workamajig
Being on top of human resource management has a lot to do with making sure that everyone is assigned tasks they’re equipped to do, and that they’re neither overloaded or underutilized.
The output of your project is highly dependent on the work that your team can produce, so you must manage their energy, effort, and time.
See your team’s progress on their tasks
With Workamajig, you can see your team’s workload for your whole project schedule. You can also mark holidays and days off. This way, expectations communicated to your clients will be as accurate as possible. You will also get to anticipate if you need to offload some tasks to a freelancer, or if you need additional members to your team.
Managing Materials & Information With Workamajig
For creative agencies, information is one of the most important resources you need to manage: approvals, analytics, feedback, etc.
Part of Workamajig’s task management features is the ability to consolidate communications within the platform. Within each task, you can create message threads and tag specific individuals you will need feedback from. For additional reference, you may also upload relevant files, keeping everything in order.
Adding your team members, freelancers, and clients in your workspace while managing their access can help you monitor all the conversations involving your progress, to help you ensure that everyone is equipped with what they need to move forward.
Managing Financial Resources With Workamajig
Financial management in your project can be strongly tied to human and material resources management. To ensure that your team always has what they need to fulfill their tasks, purchasing at the right time will be important to facilitate.
Workamajig helps you process project purchases smoothly by giving you tools to pre-set several parameters such as approvers and purchase limits for project managers. Streamlining the purchasing process will prevent approvals from bottlenecking unnecessarily.
Add purchase limits and approvers for easy coordination and recording of your team’s transactions
For easy reimbursement requests from clients and a constant awareness of how much you’re spending, Workamajig also lets you take advantage of intuitive expense tracking features, allowing you to connect expenses to specific tasks and projects.
Should I Invest In A Resource Management Software?
Most agencies use a combination of spreadsheets and calendars to manage their resources. But investing in software can have a massive impact on how you manage your projects as well.
1. Impact on profitability
In an agency, profitability is directly tied to resource utilization rates, which resource management software helps improve.
For example, in a 10-person company billing at an average rate of $100/hour, improving the utilization rate by 1 hour/week will bring in an additional $52,000 in revenue.
This is the first thing you should consider when evaluating the relevance of resource management software. Use hard numbers to see how resource management software can help improve utilization rates, and how it can improve your business revenues and profitability.
2. Impact on employee happiness and turnover rates
Resource management software helps distribute workloads more uniformly. If some resources are overbooked (while others are underutilized), the software will help you spot it.
The net impact of better workload distribution is happier employees and lower turnover rates. If your people are constantly leaving because they don’t have challenging work (or have too much work), your resource management software can help.
Tie a dollar figure to turnover rates. Calculate the cost of hiring, onboarding, and training a new employee vs the cost of retaining existing workers. The difference represents the cost savings through resource management software.
3. Improved project performance
Resource management software impacts both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of project performance. Since workloads are better distributed and prioritized, you have your best resources working on the most important tasks. This usually leads to an improvement in the quality of their work.
At the same time, better resource distribution and planning helps you meet deadlines and stay within budget. You avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure that you have resources available in case of deadline or scope changes.
Think about the reasons for project delays and quality issues in the past. If these are personnel-related issues, resource management can help.
Resource management software is crucial for the smooth running of any service-focused business. The impact is even greater if you’re dealing with creative resources.
By giving you greater visibility into your organization’s resources, schedules, and utilization rates, this software helps you improve project performance and agency profitability.
Do you use a resource management tool in your agency? Are you planning to implement it soon? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!
For project management software with resource management capabilities, give Workamajig a try.
See how it works right here: