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Overruns and delays routinely plague projects, but new, off-the-shelf, integrated project and resource management solutions offer avenues out of traditional bottlenecks.
As operation-intensive service businesses apply pandemic lessons to adapt to the new world realities, they have broadly realized multiple insights uncovered over the last year. The customer expectations are higher than ever, remote service and hybrid teams are here to stay, and beyond being productive, the need is also to be proactive and predictive to solve complex client problems.
Here are five ways to shift gears and drive your project management forward.
1. Find the Right Project Resources
Finding and allocating the right resource to the right project at the right time can never be a coincidence. It is like walking on a thin rope to get the most out of what you have got. Finding the right mix demands the most practical yet dynamic answers, such as where the resources will bring the most value, what their criteria and workflows are when they are available and the conditions of their availability, how much money and talent to reallocate when to hire or train, and how to put those skills effectively into action.
In services organizations, where the scale is large, it takes time to match tasks with resource skills and allocate them to projects.
Sometimes, it can take weeks due to a lack of clarity between current and future allocation levels. Worse still, unclear workflow among project managers, leaders, and resource managers leads to overruns and delays. Too often, project and resource managers rely on the traditional spreadsheets and uncounted knowledge hidden in department silos. It happens when data and document systems aren’t integrated — a porous ground for inefficiency to reign supreme.
Here, a PSA tool (professional services automation) can help manage the resource pool like an asset, intelligently allocate resources at different levels, and put appropriate forecasts in focus for immediate, short, and long-term staffing needs. All-encompassing data-driven tools automate approval workflows with all the stakeholders, and the ability to easily collaborate unifies project and resource managers for resource fulfillment. A PSA tool with a built-in recommendation engine can bring ideal resources for the job to the top and help locate resources quickly based on availability, location, skill set, department, or other criteria.
2. Optimize Utilization and Productivity for Global Resources
For professional services organizations where employees make up the significant cost base, too many desynchronized emails between resource and project managers cause miscommunication and reduce productivity. Resource optimization is essential because they sell time and resource skills at capacity for profit. For project-focused businesses, low resource utilization is a rising concern. Primarily because optimal utilization can bring in higher billing, higher revenue, and higher profits. No matter your team size, effectively extracting the right resources from the global talent pool and utilizing them is critical. The chosen resources are the face of your projects, and their effectiveness directly impacts those engagement metrics. However, the rising expectations of clients, stakeholders, and employees have made the management of utilization and productivity exponentially harder. Aligning all of them with a spreadsheet, manually generated reports, and a barrage of emails is a regular headache. But it does not have to be this way.
Poor resource utilization, in addition to eroding profitability, can also lead to boredom, lack of focus, less enthusiasm, and employee attrition. Further, overutilization can render to faster burnouts. As a project manager, you can course-correct the void in real-time with live resource inputs around effort and completion estimates. Using a dynamic graphical calendar, you can easily spot underutilized or overutilized resources and report on utilization by various dimensions with user-friendly dynamic charts and graphs. Get a global view of resources to determine their current and future allocation levels and find out layered time off, holiday calendars, and schedules to decide resource availability
3. Stay on Top of Skill, Training, and Resource Supply
As services businesses struggle to tackle the widening disparity between employees’ skills and clients’ evolving requirements, project managers get caught up in the whirlwind. On the one hand, they must stay on top of the skill repository, and on the other, they also must track and manage the entire skill and certification process. Not easy to keep up when the workforce is massive, training mandates are vast, and the compliance benchmark set by Learning & Development (L&D) is steep. Project managers can avoid the back-and-forth processing of candidate competency data and easily reference a catalog of skills, training and certifications by deploying an intelligent, automated resource management suite.
With the right resource management solution to manage resource skills and certifications, you can bring resource allocation and skill management together. By breaking the silo for quicker resource identification and allocation, you can streamline communication phases to keep all stakeholders in the know. Parse through skills sets and hierarchies, develop a skill matrix and track training effectiveness for each resource to simplify scheduling fast.
By efficiently managing skill and certification updates with attestation, you can create a reference catalog of each role’s skills. It helps you in initiating and fulfilling resource requests. Analyze resource availability by skill set to proactively hire or retrain resources and meet future demand.
4. Plan Capacity for Better Enterprise Resource Management
Now hot, now cold, variable demand is part and parcel of services environments. Sound predictions of demand are imperative today. It also involves coordination with other departments. Sales might have promised specific numbers to the client, account management wants to ensure SLAs are met, admin insists enough time for infrastructure configuration, and compliance says all the boxes must be ticked. Meeting varying demands while predicting future resource capacity and workload is far from being easy and one-dimensional.
With ready information on availability, training, and scheduling the right talent for the planned project, you can forecast with the certainty of science. A top-tier resource management solution will allow you to assign placeholder resources to upcoming projects to effectively account for resource requirements and enable quick hiring or training.
5. Manage Remote Employees
In the age of remote working, project management gets a little tricky. With running operations and managing projects veering towards an unprecedented shift, project managers are left with hybrid teams and distributed work. As if the mounting responsibilities were not enough, they must now also understand if the employees are procrastinating or logging in from unknown locations. The challenge lies in capturing all billable hours, managing approval and billing workflows, and applying relevant rates and invoices to the distributed client base accurately.
Replicating all these remotely are challenges that a modern project management tool can try to carry off on its automated shoulder. For up-to-the-minute client billing, you can configure timesheets to capture accurate information. Set billable hour targets, measure budgets to actuals in real time, and bill your client projects accurately upon project delivery. If required, take corrective action to keep projects, resources, and finances on track.
The rewards for optimized resource management are manifold. It is time for businesses to derive the most from the projects by aligning strategic perspectives with sophisticated cloud-based professional services automation (PSA) software. The common threads of resource management success tend to be finding the right traditional and remote resource at the right time for the right project at a global scale, tracking their skilling fulfillment, and optimizing their utilization for the bottom line.