The Resource Management Life Cycle- Effective Planning for Maximum Utilization

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. Any organization that fails to manage their resources to ensure that sufficient capacity is available, and that they are being assigned and managed efficiently, risks losing control of its project and work costs and having its business activities seriously constrained. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.

Before we get into all the various levels of resource management, let’s touch on the basics.  What is resource management?  Wikipedia defines resource management as “the efficient and effective deployment of an organization’s resources when they are needed.”

The term “resources” does not always refer to human resources, but all resources that need to be considered when scheduling a project activity.  For the purpose of this blog I’m going to be referring to the management process for human resources and the five levels within it. 

Unlike some project management processes, in order to complete the resource management life cycle, all resources must play a role. Each part of the life cycle could be owned by a different stakeholder and will vary from organization to organization. 

  • Executive Management will play a key role in identifying and selecting the RIGHT work and projects for the organization to execute. In many cases, Executive Management will only be involved in resource management from a reporting and analytics standpoint. For example, which projects and work to include in the business portfolio based on resource management metrics and data?

  • The PMO will be in charge of inputting resource data into the resource management tool. The PMO will play a key role in the first two steps in the resource management life cycle including planning resource roles and identifying which resources will fill them. 

  • The Project Manager will be involved primarily with execution rather than the planning stage of resource management. Once the resources are assigned, the project manager will be accountable for resource performance.

  • The Project Team’s role is to collaborate with each other to foster a positive team environment. Shared knowledge and expertise will be a critical factor in delivering work successfully.

  • The team member’s main role will be to get the work done!

 

Let’s take a look at the full resource management life cycle. As you can see in the graphic, this is a top down approach to managing your resources. To truly accomplish full resource management within your organization, all areas must be considered and accommodated. That being said, it is always wise to consider organizational maturity as it relates to resource management to ensure you are adopting the right amount of discipline and functionality at the right pace to ensure you are not introducing unnecessary risks.

By the way, it is very common for users within your organization to be at different levels of maturity. One of the most important aspects of implementing and executing a new tool or discipline is that you understand your audience and their needs as well as their current processes in place to ensure that new technologies introduced will be easily adapted.

Resource Capacity Planning

 

Capacity planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner. In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand. For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project? This will help you establish the structure for your project, potentially establish how your tasks will be organized, and even identify security constraints. 

What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project? Without the proper skill sets and expertise particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework. Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe. 

As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments.

 

Resource Allocation

Now it’s time to assign your team. Before we do, we must look at all the factors involved in this process. Who is available and when? What competencies or expertise do the resources possess? Have they worked on a similar project in the past and if so how well did they perform? Are they interested in working on the defined project and finally how much will it cost to obtain the resources for the project? 

In addition to the environmental factors, a roles and responsibilities document should be completed prior to assigning resources. An organization chart will also aid in this process when determining the resource assignments and when viewing the preliminary project schedule to see when each resource is needed and for how long. In many cases, the project team members are known in advance. In other instances, you may need to be prepared to enter a negotiation process with functional managers or maybe even other project managers, should the resource be currently working on other projects. In this case, project priorities and benefits may be weighed to determine which project has the greater need for the requested resource. 

In many cases, if project teams are already over allocated, there may be a need to consider acquiring resources from a 3rd party vendor or consulting firm. You may also consider whether or not having a virtual team will be adequate for your resource management needs. After resources are assigned and confirmed, you will need to be prepared to manage all future changes that could potentially come into play to ensure your plan is flexible and scalable to handle unexpected shifts in resource demand and allocation.

Resource Work Management

 

Resource Work Management is an ongoing process in the resource management life cycle that begins with allocation and ends at the completion of the final project or work deliverable. This stage in the life cycle is typically managed by the project manager. This process includes managing all assignments, tracking team member performance, providing project feedback and status, resolving issues and risks, and coordinating changes to enhance project performance. 

All of these tools necessary for project execution and management are also essential to your resources. As with any work or project deliverable, time, resources and costs must all be considered together in order to effectively and successfully deliver a project.

Resource Collaboration

 

Resource collaboration is a key practice in the way we work today.  Working together on work deliverables allows us to streamline our work, deliver services, and increase overall productivity across the organization. It’s simple math really, more experienced resources working together equals less time. Resource collaboration is a critical stage in resource management.

If your resources aren’t communicating and they aren’t working towards a shared understanding of goals, carefully putting together a resource plan pre-execution will be less productive. Resources must communicate in order to keep projects and work on track. When defining the tools to implement for resource management, ease of use and flexibility are essential to ensure high user adaption and effective collaboration.

 

Resource Task Management

  

The last level of the resource management life cycle focuses on those accountable for individual work items. We all have project work or various work items that we must complete and most likely that work is combined with our own personal to do list as well. In order to be the most productive, resources need a tool that will handle all of their work tasks and any personal tasks they may have in one location. Resources must be able to gather their work, update their work, and monitor all related work and dependencies in one system.