If you are a project resource manager, chaos is no stranger to you. Even with your best efforts, you have had to make peace with some aspects always proving to be beyond your control.
While project scheduling is something you are no doubt well acquainted with, scientific resource scheduling which involves referring to actual reports and collaborating in real time can make a world of difference.
When it is amiss, it reflects in everything – deadlines that can never be met, budgets that eat into profits, teams that are perpetually unhappy and a sense of satisfaction that is always elusive. Can better scheduling, capacity vs. demand reports and better resource allocation really help project resource management?
Let’s look at the signs of improper scheduling that project teams often face and find ways to solve their root cause.
Sign #1: You consistently miss deadlines. And not by a margin.
Missing deadlines is not necessarily a sign of failure. Requirements may have changed, clients might have taken longer than intended to give you their approvals or you might have simply been a tad too ambitious. But missing deadlines very frequently can be a cause for concern, especially when you know that you did not reach your task milestones on time or that your resource output didn’t correspond with your timelines. Besides when deadlines are missed by a very large margin, it often hints at the fact that the preparation was flawed.
Solution: Switch to data-driven demand forecasting and capacity planning
Project planning at its best integrates into the heart of your operations so much so, it begins even before the project does. Demand forecasting and capacity planning help you achieve just that. When driven around real time data, these reports help you map the projects that are likely to convert and the requirements they will have so that you can begin blocking resources accordingly.
Sign #2 : You notice poor productivity levels. Your team burns out faster that it used to.
The timeline you had scheduled your resources onto, was the same as you always did. On your part, you had compared their previous output levels before placing them onto new tasks. Yet, you see that they often need reinforcements or more time. Even if you do give complexity of tasks the benefit of doubt, the dull Mondays and relatively happier Fridays are subtly hinting at the fact that your team is uncomfortable and nearing its saturation levels.
Solution: Ensure optimal utilization of all resources and their skillsets
Most often, under or over utilization of resources have deeper implications than we think they do. Optimal utilization not only refers to the time commitment involved but also factors in comprehensive utilization of resource skillsets. Ensuring that your employees work to their full capacities will entail giving them strategic breaks between monotonous tasks, a let out to diversify skillsets or responsibilities and extracting quality output. Tracking resource utilization through reports that get updated in real time as schedules change is the first step towards this. It is also important to note that over utilization is not favourable simply because their work schedule shows productivity.
Sign #3:Clients often hint towards wanting more or better quality output
On one hand, your manager cannot stop with his/her sermon on customer satisfaction, which often revolves around going that extra mile. On the other, client feedback makes you wonder if you gave enough attention to detail or if your employees gave their best shot. How far along are you on the extra mile? This question makes you uneasy and your answers are always vague. Stepping back, does this reflect on everything from team competency to training?
Solution: Allocate the right talent on the right job and nurture their secondary skillsets.
Most often, despite having a vast pool of highly talented employees, you see yourself dumping tasks onto those you can get hold of. This does not help in identifying previous experience or commitment levels. A thorough, easily accessible database of employee availability and skillsets lets you book them on in good time, make right choices and orient them onto projects. In addition, it helps identify and nurture additional skillsets that your employees have.
Sign #4: Your teams aren’t supportive of each other. They fight for the same resources.
Nothing can be more frustrating than having to enforce a sense of ‘solidarity’ amongst teams that do not get along with each other. If you have to mend things between team leads who are competing for the same programmer or have to sort out internal squabbles, you must be well aware of the fact that the project’s best interests are not the focus anymore.
Solution: Have timeline and skillset visibility of all resources. Give your team leaders the same too.
The above mentioned visibility of resource skillsets and availability statuses must be made accessible to all concerned managers. Tied with project details, this priority list will in itself be your scheduling guide and there will be very less reasons for teams to fight. You can easily make sure that all teams get equal access to relevant resources and that they coexist in harmony.
Sign #5: Your meetings are frustrating and often take more time than required.
What was supposed to be a Monday morning breakfast meeting easily spills onto lunchtime. And you see that the data teams are referring to are different from each other to that point that reaching consensus takes far too long. For you to be able to allocate resources in this chaotic scheme of things seems to be herculean task, not to mention how this one sign can factor all that we have listed above.
Solution: Switch from cumbersome spreadsheets to an intuitive tool.
All these signs, especially the fact that your meetings last too long, point to the fact that spreadsheets or your schedule maker is not helping you achieve strategic scheduling of resources. Opting for an intuitive, dedicated tool that is tied in with reports will help you achieve more with less, in addition to ensuring better quality output.
Do you identify with any of these signs? If yes, how do you work around mitigating them in order to employ better resource scheduling? Let us know with your comments below.
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