Organizations spend significant amounts of time and money on the management of their resources. That’s understandable, ‘resources are our most valuable asset’ is more than just a cliché; it is a fact of the modern business. It is therefore vitally important organizations manage those assets as effectively and efficiently as possible, and they simply aren’t doing it very well.
The biggest issue is the time horizon organizations use to manage resources. For project execution teams, resource management is often reactive – adjusting resource levels and moving people based on problems that have already happened. This rapidly becomes a game of ‘chase the issue’ – moving people to solve a problem in one area creates other problems in other initiatives and the problems escalate and spread.
Potentially worse is the resource management approach to downstream impacts of project delivery. When a project is approved the organization is effectively committing to downstream resource changes. The additional sales, marketing, production and support staff required to operationalize a new product, the reduction facilitated by a new automated process, etc. These changes require considerable lead time to be implemented successfully, especially when the changes require hiring and / or reskilling of resources. However, in most organizations these changes are not considered until the project is ready to deliver – reducing the ability of the organization to implement the project effectively and efficiently from the very start.
Progressive organizations are recognizing these inbuilt problems with resource management and are making fundamental changes, integrating long term, strategic resource management with annual planning and project selection. They are seeing improved performance through better readiness for organizational change, a greater ability to absorb and respond to resource management challenges and even better project selection. In the next few posts I want to offer you a roadmap for maturing and elevating your resource management approaches to improve your overall success.
Let’s start with the element of project planning that has the biggest impact on future resourcing needs – project selection. In the last few years project selection has begun to integrate elements of portfolio modeling; that is consideration of how resources and skills would need to be distributed across the organization with different project mixes. This allows under and over utilization of resources to be identified, and facilitates the development of resourcing and skills development plans. Portfolio modeling has helped drive approval of projects that are more likely to successfully contribute to strategic goals, but it is limited.
The relatively short period of time between project approval and initiation means that there is limited ability to address any of the resource shortfalls that have been identified. Developing skills, and in particular supporting those skills with experience takes time, and adding skilled resources from outside of the organization can take even longer. Effective resource management practices can address some of these challenges, but this is not an area where ‘perfect’ solutions can be found given the time constraints inherent in an annual planning cycle.
However, where annual project planning can drive significantly improved resource management is in the downstream impact of those projects, and that’s what we’ll look at in the next entry.
About the Author: Mounir Hilal leads the Upland Customer Success organization, which is focused on driving adoption, value realization, retention and loyalty for existing customers. Prior to Upland, Mounir served as Vice President of Client Services for PSA, where he oversaw the global professional services organization and was responsible for growing services revenue. With more than 12 years of professional services experience, Mounir has extensive knowledge in enterprise software design, development and deployment processes, as well as business consulting and project management. In addition, he has a high degree of expertise in operational control, compliance and business process optimization. Mounir holds a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from McGill University and an MBA from Queen’s University, and is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
To learn more about Upland Software’s Resource Management offering, go to: uplandsoftware.com/psa