Project managers need a diverse set of skills. The well-rounded project manager is a leader. They motivate the project team. Project managers may need to improvise on the fly, keeping it all together while managing bumps in the road. Some skills are imperative for a project manager to have, or acquire – and resource management is one skill that is crucial for success.
Resource management is the ability to prioritize and obtain necessary resources for project delivery. Nearly everything, when you think about it, is a resource. Machinery, funds, technology, services…even manpower. There are quite a few skills that go into accomplishing this effectively. Resource management is not for the faint of heart 🙂
How do you manage resources effectively and optimally?
Step One: Resource Allocation and Leveling
The first step begins with a general accounting of what is available to you. You want to compare your resources to the project plan and identify what’s lacking. Can those shortfalls be made up with creative use of what you have? For example, if one of your marketing team members has some coding skills, he can tackle the simple programming projects. If not, how can you acquire the resources you need?
As a project manager, you will want to market your project within the company at this juncture. Just as you prioritize your resources for your project, the company prioritizes its resources across projects, too. Increasing the profile of your project will open doors for you in gaining resources!
Step Two: Scheduling and Smoothing
Once you have an idea of what is available, it is time to match supply and demand, so to speak. Your project plan will introduce peaks and troughs of resource demand, especially on man-hours. You know what kind of supply you have – so it’s time to “smooth” the schedule to allow for a flatter demand curve. Schedule your milestones wisely! Err on the side of caution whenever possible. Smoothing requires moving the goalposts, so to speak – and you’ll have constraints on how far they can move.
Make use of buffer time here. Buffers are your friend – they’re an excess supply of manpower. One or two strategically placed buffers can prevent a lot of stakeholder anger and disappointment down the road.
Step Three: Forget Workflow. Flow to Work
Flow to work is a method of task assignment that prioritizes knowledge and adaption of skill sets. Instead of assigning work to a team member, you assign team members to where they’re needed most. Janice has accounting skills? She can jump in to help with accounts receivable when necessary. Horace knows PhotoShop? Great, he can help the graphics team. Eric and Donna are stuck with a client demo? Assign the capacity to help. People flow to work, based on skill and availability.
The flow to work approach brings a lot of benefits, chief among them flexibility and happier team members. You might need to manage deadlines carefully, but when executed properly you will always have reserve manpower to throw at items threatening to cause delays.
Resource Management: Summary
Flexibility is key, both in terms of work hour capacity and in terms of deadlines. Buffers are your friends. Utilize flow to work wherever possible. And market your project in house with resources in mind.