The Resource Management Institute (RMI) just released its 6th Annual State of Resource Management Report for 2020 and the new insights it provides will prove extremely valuable to project managers (PMs) who want to achieve improvements in their organizations. Read on to get a project manager’s perspective on some of the key takeaways from the new report.
Why Project Managers Care About Resource Management
Project Resource management has long been a critical component of project portfolio management, yet many companies are still struggling to develop and implement effective resource management processes. As noted in the RMI report, there are a variety of factors that influence this, including a tendency to prioritize forecasting and capacity over RM and a struggle to find effective RM automation tools. This can make it incredibly difficult for PMs because inadequate RM directly impacts their ability to do their jobs. PMs care about resource management because it affects key outcomes including project performance, resource utilization and customer satisfaction.
Takeaway #1: Poor Resource Management is Bad for Everyone
What happens when RM goes by the wayside? It’s not a dramatic, overnight collapse of the business. It’s actually more insidious because poor RM gradually degrades processes over time and:
- Contributes to a high project failure rate — as much as 40 percent
- Makes utilization unpredictable
- Negatively impacts both internal and external customer satisfaction
- Harms employee satisfaction and retention
Those are deeply disturbing stats for PMs that care about results. Companies who wish to create an environment that delivers successful outcomes need to focus on resource management and their PMs and RMs need to work together to establish a strong, centralized approach that offers visibility to all stakeholders and focuses on metrics that matter. This can be accomplished by:
- Creating an RM-specific process
- Increasing RM education across the organization
- Training RMs on how to do their jobs efficiently
- Automating tasks with an efficient RM automation tool
- Linking project allocation to metrics that matter (utilizing the aforementioned processes and tools)
- Creating a resource management office (RMO) to manage RM for the organization
Takeaway #2: Success Requires Removing Inhibitors to Effective Resource Management
In the opening of this article, we touched briefly on why many companies struggle to develop and implement strong RM. Let’s take a deeper look into a few of the inhibitors that affect resource management and the challenges they pose to effective project management.
High Demand of Talent
A 2020 presentation by RMI titled “Power UP: Sourcing Strategies” noted that finding talent is difficult for most companies, with around 88 percent of companies surveyed reporting some challenges or difficulties in sourcing. That means that PMs are unable to get the assets they need to complete the work — and their projects — in the best way possible.
The system for developing, training and implementing RM processes is a hindrance to overall RM success and that translates into bigger problems for their PM counterparts. Additionally, many companies report that they do not train their resource managers or invest in their continuing education. Without an established process run by an experienced RM, there is little hope that effective resource management can take hold.
Most organizations have some form of automation tool to help with project and resource management. However, nearly all organizations — close to 90 percent — note the need for improvements in this area. On the positive side, that number was 99 percent a year ago, so things are already getting better.
Takeaway #3: Three Best Practices You Can Implement Today
In their recent report, RMI shared 10 best practices for resource management. We’ve pulled three that you can begin implementing right away.
1. Focus on Metrics that Matter
The days of celebrating a completed checklist of projects are over. Why? Because completed projects do not tell the entire story. If every project on the list was late and over budget, for example, the “win” loses its value. That is why it is important for PMs and RMs to focus on metrics that tell stakeholders about value added, costs saved and other important factors. PMs and RMs should establish the metrics most important to the business such as overall project performance, resource utilization, and customer and employee retention/satisfaction. These will support informed decision-making and align RM and PM functions.
2. Invest in Resource Managers
Better RM leads to better projects, so supporting your resource managers is important. Continued training will help them do their jobs more effectively and this means that PMs will consistently get the right people on the right projects. Furthermore, expanding the PM’s understanding of the RM role will equip them with the information they need to become a powerful partner to the RM.
3. Create a Properly Designed Skills Database and Process
If there is one thing a project manager understands, it is the need for clear, concise and well-organized data. RMs are just as reliant on such data for executing their own tasks, including talent management. With a strong skills database and a methodical, vetted process, an RM can shine in an organization. The better their database the more responsibility they can take on in identifying issues in capacity, assisting with forecasting and managing the company’s internal and third-party talent pool.
What these three takeaways signal is that resource management is not a trend or a buzzword — it is a vital component of any successful organization and project management in particular. It starts by understanding the negative impact of poor resource management and locating the inhibitors that make change more difficult. Your organization can then take steps to begin implementing resource management best practices that support your project managers and generate improved project performance, better utilization and improved customer and employee satisfaction.
Rachel Hentges is challenging PMO leaders to think differently about their role. Rachel is the author of key industry related surveys, reports, blogs and more that challenge the status quo of today’s PMOs.