Let's face it...resource management is often that dirty two-word phrase that no one wants to deal with. Would project management life be much easier if we could just run with the project and not worry about budgets and time sheets and resources and team availability. Of course, that wouldn't leave us with much of any importance to manage, but our creative juices would be allowed to flow freely, right? Think what you could do for your client and for your organization if there were no resource or budget constraints. Or timeframe constraints. For that matter. Sky's the limit! Go!
Ok. Back to reality. We do have resources to manage on the projects we are tasked with managing. And we do need to figure out effective ways to manage those resources, resolve and minimize resource conflicts, build accountability and task ownership, and report on resource forecasting and availability. How do we do that? What actions do we take and what tools can we use to help ensure that we are managing our resources with proper oversight and that our projects are adequately staffed on an ongoing basis? Let’s discuss…
Use of an automated resource management tool
Using a solid cloud based or desktop automated tool – either as a standalone tool or as part of a creative management or project management tool set – can be extremely effective at helping the project manager regularly monitor and forecast project resource usage and allocation. Both over usage and over extension of project resources AND under usage and under allocation can be negative and affect the project adversely. The key is to use a tool – even if it ends up being a simple spreadsheet that works for you and the project. But use it and use it well.
Weekly review of resource forecast and usage
There is no replacement for regular review, forecast and reforecast of project resource actuals and projections. Everything ties back into the budget and timeline for the project – and your project resources are usually your biggest source of project expense and time on the project. Stay on top of the resource analysis and planning to ensure that resources are being used where they are needed as well as when they are needed. Your CFO will thank you for that when you show a project delivered on time and on budget as a result.
Regular discussion of timesheets and resource availability with the project team
Finally, discuss resource utilization with your team – they are the resources. Let them know how important this ingredient is to the overall project success. And how important proper handling of project time charges – their time they charge to your project (and other projects) – are to the financial success of the project as well as the organization as a whole. They may not realize how important accuracy can be in this department, but it is very important and it is your job as their project manager to drive that concept home with them. So do it regularly. And be aware – through regular and ongoing discussions – what other projects and activities they might be working on concurrently. You don’t want a surprise conflict in their availability to come up and stop your project’s forward progress dead in its tracks.
Resources get over used, over extended and even over allocated before they are used. It’s not good practice – and certainly not part of project management best practices. And, for the most part, it’s avoidable. A proper tool will tell us if have over allocated our resources on our projects going forward. That same tool – whether it’s a high end visual project management or resource management tool or just a spreadsheet that works well for the project manager – can tell us if we have been overusing our resources to date in the project on a regular basis. Knowing if we are using them in the right places is more of a subjective call on the part of the project manager based on their task understanding and project management (and subject matter) expertise.
Of course, all of these same concepts hold true for under utilization and under allocation of project resources. Either way, they can be costing the project excess dollars and productivity – that’s why resource management is so critical. Not only the resources are affected, but the budget and project timeline can be compromised as well.
Let’s hear your feedback. What works for your ad agency? What works for resource management on your creative projects? What problems come up regularly? How do you get past them – what methods do you employ?