Some managers do keep track of resources, while others don’t. The ‘to do or not to do resource management’ decision is as simple as whether the benefits offset the costs and hassle. Obviously, it is problematic to “calculate” whether the whole resource management thing will eventually pay off. Let’s check when resource management usually does make sense. What could you lose doing resource management poorly? And eventually, why do some project managers deliberately skip resource management?
Poor resource management can set back projects, initiatives, or product development and there are clear, evident situations when formal resource management is important. Before we proceed to specific scenarios, let’s take a glance at a timeline board typically used for resource management. That board should be integrated into a bigger project management software solution.
What business set-ups do call for real resource management?
When you outsource project work or product development you normally buy the time of the subcontractor, who might have commitments to other customers, too. Resource management is more appropriate here compared to doing all the work internally. Without resource management, you lose coordination and synchronization with an external provider who does not share your goals and strategy, after all, and so will not sacrifice, nor do overtime.
When team members cannot substitute each other because they have unique skill sets, that makes a project/product manager’s life way more complicated. Skipping resource management here not only can leave you out of a competent resource. In larger, distributed organizations, where people do not know each other, finding a skilled assignee can be an issue. Your project management software has not been told, after all, who had what skills.
Be it cross-project, cross-function, cross-country domain experts, or a shared services center. In this scenario, project or product managers share resources with fellow managers or “borrow” in-house experts from locations in other states or from overseas. Global resources bring enterprise-wide resource management to the forefront. Here, a resource manager has visibility into the allocation of internal experts across the whole organization, not just in a particular project. For such cases, BigPicture Enterprise has the ‘Show overall assignment’ checkbox, see figure 3.
Deadlines, tight budgets, regulations
Dealing with external constraints – dates, limited financial resources, or laws – is another pro-resource management indicator. In this scenario, full-swing resource management provides predictability and stability and lessens risks – all that in exchange for a capped cost of conducting the resource management.
When you bill your own resources to others – departments within the organization, company locations, portfolio managers, or external clients – that mandates some form of recording and bookkeeping to prove you right and to have the resources readily available when they are being requested by the third parties.
When you put out resources to lease, your tooling should change, too. Rather than using the Resources module from figure 2, seek a scheduling-oriented tool – one with bars representing individual “rental agreements” and with a daily-precision timeline. Green, orange, red boxes standing for under-, proper-, and over-allocation of a resource, fade into the background here.
For such cases, BigPicture has a Gantt module with the resources pane only below the timeline. Have a look at figure 4.
Did you find yourself in any of the mentioned scenarios? Let’s move on to what could you potentially lose not doing resource management.
What do you lose with poor resource management?
You lose optimization and fine-tuning – seemingly not critical things. Yet missing the two can lead to a snowball effect over time, affecting the profitability and sustainability of the business.
Once you let the poor resource management go on for some time, you can expect:
- budget overruns
- employees’ diminished performance, dissatisfaction, burnout, and high turnover
- delayed delivery of projects and products
Why do some project managers skip resource management?
Now that we know the specific scenarios calling for full-time resource management and what poor resource management eventually leads to, let’s briefly explain why some project managers nevertheless deliberately skip resource management. The reason is this: managing resources properly is relatively laborious compared to planning, scheduling, and tracking the progress of a project.
Resource information is unrelated to and disconnected from the project schedule and if the schedule changes, updating the resource views could resemble building a house of cards. On the other hand, team members contribute to the chaos by taking unexpected days off.
Consequently, the “neat” resource views tend to “expire” rapidly. Hence, resource modules tend to act as status pages or monitoring views, rather than scheduling tools. With BigPicture, however, you can drag and drop tasks directly in the Resources module, to restore “order” – the green (underallocation) and orange (proper allocation) bars – and get rid of red bars (overallocation).