Four Inhibitors to Successful Resource Management

Author: Rachel Hentges

Resource management (RM) is probably the hottest topic in the PSA/PPM space right now, for a very good reason. It’s common knowledge, succinctly stated by in a PMI paper: “Resource non-availability is one of the main reasons, often the main reason, for failures in multiple project environments.” In addition, the Resource Management Institute (RMI) identifies several elements that RMs struggle to manage each day, including “project performance, labor costs, talent management, forecasting, regional needs, and specialization.”

Fortunately, recent RMI research was conducted to create a path forward to overcome the challenges of project and resource management. Here are some findings and what you can do to combat ineffective RM in your PSA/PPM PMO.

1. Lack of RM-specific process discipline

Almost 90% of those surveyed (over 200 individuals) in both enterprise IT organizations and in professional services industries said that they haven’t spent the time they need to identify the existing RM processes they’re currently using. Add to this finding the fact that many report feeling the lack of an appropriate RM tool within their PSA/PPM platforms (see #4, below). Not surprising that one of the best things an RM team can do to ensure they’ve accurately roadmapped RM processes is to first attempt to gain a PSA/PPM platform with best practices included.

Human capital management happens in cycles of anywhere from 3-8 months. Taking the time to identify the RM processes for your industry and document them appropriately, as well as train against them—will make or break your ability to meet this challenge.

2. Continuity of RM-capable resources

As Managing Director of RMI Randy Mysliviec asserts: “Too many organizations are thinking about resource management as a tactical supply and demand matching process. Most organizations tend to look backward four weeks as a view to what the next four weeks are going to look like. And they spend most of the time simply saying, "Here's the open projects I've got. Who are the people that I can put on it to stamp those projects?"  This is where most of the momentum and effort from the organization goes. They have to think much more strategically.”

This principle applies especially well to creating a knowledge base in your company that will create value on a strategic level, not when working to fill in resource deployment only within a snapshot of time.   With almost 30% of respondents saying they have a problem finding/keeping skilled resource managers, gaining continuity in your RM programs by making sure your resource managers are found and kept on staff, can ensure your PMO is performing up to its potential.

3. Insufficient Automation

If 85% of people in the survey report they are having problems forecasting appropriately, then they don’t have the right tool. Having good internal interlocks for RM and the appropriate methodologies are crucial, of course. But even if you have the right reskilling and remixing of RMs in your PMO most of the time—if your PSA/PPM tool doesn’t let you uncover these metrics easily, you’re not using them correctly. Designing and maintaining a great skills database will be one of the best uses of your automation –but only if these skills interlock with your use cases and processes.

Nearly every organization surveyed said they had a problem with their tool that inhibited them from performing exemplary RM. A quarter of the respondents said they were actively replacing their tool. You can’t expect your tool to solve all your process design problems. If you’re picking a new tool, build your processes and workflows into a use case for the vendors (if purchasing) or to realign your tools behind better RM (if you’re keeping what you have).

4. Lack of Effective RM Education

Thanks to the RMI, the education of RMs has been more effectively codified and the RM community’s needs have been researched more frequently than any time in the past. Ensuring that RM education exists to meet the challenges we’ve discussed remains a key mission of the organization.

One way they do so is with the Resource Management Certified Professional program, a three-day program (in-person) or online that can be completed in two hours a week for six weeks with a certification exam at the end. It's the first of its kind certification program for resource managers to learn best practices, gain access to the RMI research center, and more. We love partnering with the RMI because we believe our PSA/PPM tool needs their input on a regular basis to ensure that we are representing best practices in RM.

Another way to ensure you’ve got a codified path for expert RMs in your PMO is to gather their skillsets in your skills inventory not only to make sure they’re on the job for your most impactful programs but that they’re engaged in meeting their own career goals as the RM gurus on your staff.

For more on this topic, please watch our webinar Inhibitors to Effective Resource Management.