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3 Simple Tips For Better Resource Planning

Categories: Resource Planning, Management Tips
The end result of your project is only as good as the planning that goes into it. With the right resource planning tools and strategies, you can avoid resource conflicts, reduce resource related spending, and deliver projects as planned. 

That’s why any organization can benefit from these 3 resource planning tips:

1. TRY TO SEE THE "BIG PICTURE"

It's not about one resource or even one project. No project is an island. In resource planning, it's all about the big picture. The best way to plan your projects is to create a giant resource pool. That way, everyone will know exactly what kind of resources you have, how to apply these resources and who is responsible for what. You have to be able to dive into details (the utilization of each resource individually) and zoom out for the bird's-eye view of everything that's going on (group utlization or the utilization of your resources across the project portfolio). 

By trying to understand the big picture, everyone in your organization will have a clearer idea of how they fit into the mix. Not only will that help them perform their own individual tasks better, but it may also give them some additional motivation. After all, wouldn’t you be inclined to work a little harder on a small task if you knew what the entire project was supposed to look like when it was finished?

2. KEEP A CENTRAL SCHEDULE

Along with your pool of resources, you also need to have a master schedule that everyone has access to. Why is this so important?

Firstly, a central schedule will make the communication easier since project portfolio managers will see how each project is progressing. There's still a need for a detailed project communication plan but on the day to day level, a central schedule that can be accessed from wherever you are without installing anything is a real timesaver. Some of your employees may have skills that can be used in several departments of your company. For example, Chris may work in the IT department, but if he’s also a really talented artist, the department responsible for creative ideas in your company may also find him useful when working on an unusually tight schedule. For that kind of things to work, you must map all the skills that your team has. Being thorough at this point will pay off in the long run. That's what resource management and planning is all about! When everyone in the company can see what everyone else’s obligations (and time constraints) are, you lessen your chances of putting too much of a burden on any one person or any one department. And, as an added bonus, you don’t have to force people like Chris into the awkward position of having to say no. Another big perk of having a central schedule? Keeping track of your deadlines. Since everyone will have access to the schedule, they’ll know exactly how much time they have before they have to “hand off the baton”, so to speak. For example, the department responsible for creative ideas will know that it has one week to come up with a logo before the Marketing department has to put it on the brochures and send them off to the printer. In addition to making the workflow visual, you can add dependencies to make it extra clear. You can add milestones for the most important points in your project life cycles for everyone to see.

3. USE THE TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE

There’s no point in putting in man-hours when you can use software to automate things. Technology can help you with certain parts of your resource planning, which means you can start working faster. The sooner you start working, the sooner you can produce results! Resource planning isn't something you can do once and then it's done. Resource planning is something you have to do continuously. You have to possess the information about the status of each project in the portfolio to allocate resources accordingly during the lifetime of your projects. Sometimes, a project with high priority is stuck, and you have to allocate additional resources. Other times, tasks will take a lot less time than planned, and you can move resources to a new project that you have just landed. If you are using spreadsheets to do all that, it'll take time that you don't need to spend. So, feel free to use whatever technology you can, to streamline the “easy” stuff. That way, you’ll have more time and more energy to tackle the “hard” stuff.  In the end, you’ll wind up with a better product – without necessarily spending more time working! There are several resource management and planning tools out there, but as the competition is tight, many of them are free to use. Even we have up to 10 resources for free! Indefinitely, if you like. So as the selection of different tools is so diverse and abundant, the only thing you should really need is the courage and energy to take the first step. The rest is easy!

 


What is the number one thing you would suggest someone that's just getting started with resource planning?