5 Quick Wins for Driving Increased Employee Utilization with Effective Project Management

Author: Ian Needs

Having the ability to allocate resources more effectively to every project and respond rapidly to changes in workload are key to maximizing employee utilization and increasing your billable hours without increasing headcount.

In this article we explore 5 quick wins for increasing employee utilization through effective project management

#1. Plan around existing commitments and previous experience
Effective resource utilization starts with effective  project planning, this enables project managers to draw on two vital knowledge streams when building teams and schedules: detailed knowledge about exactly who is committed to what jobs and when, and detailed knowledge about previous projects. Together, these mean projects are based on realistic expectations and timelines: you don’t just avoid double-bookings, you can also factor in insights like the fact that all previous projects for a certain client have over-run – so you can assume that anyone engaged on that client is unlikely to be available on time. You can then either find an alternative resource, plan around the delay or identify who best to approach regarding reallocation.

#2. Monitor employee utilization and project costs
People costs are often the single largest part of project costs. Even if you don’t bill by the hour, your budgets will be based on assumptions of how long people will take to complete a job. Effective project management makes it simple to keep track of exactly how much time each individual has spent on your project. Time recording capabilities – so the right data is entered – and at-a-glance budget management functionality, enables project managers to spot whether particular teams, tasks or individuals are above or below budget.

#3. Keep the whole team updated on project progress
Project plans change all the time, for all manner of reasons, from client requests to late responses to unexpected problems. But when you’re fighting fires, there’s no time to think about how this might affect other parts of the team . That needn’t be the case. An effective project management tool ensures all project documentation and plans are linked – for example, moving a stage deadline in the core project plan – and all related plans are updated. With better visibility Teams can see changes in their own calendars, and make plans accordingly.

#4. Take an organization-wide view to redeploying staff
In every organization, there are certain skills in short supply. So if a specialist in a particular field has some free time, then there is likely to be a rush to redeploy him or her. Project Management not only gives you the capabilities to reallocate staff quickly, it also helps you do so intelligently. Instead of simply putting them on the free market, resource managers can select the most strategically important project, the one that most needs an injection of expert knowledge, or simply the one that is easiest to access in terms of geography. In other words, resources are used to best effect by the organization as a whole, not by individual project managers feeling the pressure.

#5. Drive employee satisfaction
Under-utilized staff aren’t just an opportunity missed in financial terms. Bored, frustrated and demotivated, they’re also a drain on your organization in many other ways. Good project management helps you minimize this risk, by ensuring no member of the team is left too long on the bench. And for organizations where reward is directly linked to billable time, that’s even more important.

You can find out more on how effective project management software drives improved utilization by exploring how KeyedIn Projects helps organizations better manage people, projects, costs and deliverables.