Many organizations rely on Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software like Microsoft Project to manage projects from inception to completion. There are several downsides to using these kinds of tools, as they can restrict your ability to deal with the unexpected. This is because PPM tools don’t include advanced resource management capabilities, such as resource modeling, which allow project managers to adapt to project changes as they happen.
In this post, we will:
- Look at how resource modeling can save you time, money, and more
- Outline five reasons why it can play a crucial role in project success
What is resource management?
Q: What’s the single most important ingredient in project success?
A: Your people.
Resource management is an approach that puts your people first and unlocks their full potential. This involves assigning the right people with the right skills to the right jobs. It means balancing your available resources so that they are optimally allocated. It means figuring out a way to get the job done on time, on budget and at the level of quality required.
To get this right, you need visibility over your resources. You need to be able to see:
- Who is working on what
- Who could be given more work or less
- Who has the relevant skillset for different tasks
- What would happen if you tried a, b or c
- Which (a, b or c) would produce the best outcome
Unfortunately, PPM tools don’t offer the advanced modeling functionality that is required to obtain this valuable insight. Many project managers use Excel spreadsheets to allocate and manage resources.
Of course, Excel wasn’t built with this specific function in mind. It can be quite challenging to scroll through resource data in spreadsheets, move resources around and figure out what the results are going to be. Most of the time you must roll the dice and live with the consequences. Neither does it provide the required visibility to make informed decisions on resource allocation, nor the ability to test possible outcomes of resource scenarios in a risk-free environment. Without this, you can end up making matters worse, rather than improving the situation.
What is resource modeling?
Resource modeling is a feature of resource management software that allows you to visualize resource data. With this, you can better plan how your resources are allocated across multiple projects over time. What’s more, you can create models to test scenarios – an invaluable aid in predicting a wide range of scenarios.
For instance, in the planning stages of a project, you can move your resources around on screen and try out different ways to optimize them. Rather than just assigning tasks to people and seeing how it plays out. You can weigh the pros and cons of different scenarios until you find the one that serves your purposes best.
When you can visualize resource data in this way and model possible scenarios, you can begin to ask, ‘what if’? What happens if a resource suddenly becomes unavailable? What happens if multiple employees fall sick on the same day? What happens if I respond this way or would it be better to take a different approach? Not only does this help you prepare for the unexpected but it can also help you react in a flash and get your project back on track in no time.
5 ways resource modeling is critical to project success
So, let’s dig a little deeper and look at five ways resource modeling can save your projects.
1. Plan better
Although you can’t plan for all eventualities – as projects have a habit of surprising you with new ways of breaking down – it always pays to be as prepared as possible. A good plan can go a long way.
Using spreadsheets to manage resources offers you almost no visibility over resources. How can you expect to react to a critical issue when it takes hours just to figure out what has gone wrong? Resource modeling will present your resource data so that it leaps from the screen immediately. With heat maps, cool maps and various models for showing how changes influence resource utilization, it can be the difference between project delays and project success.
3. Stay on budget and time
With resource modeling, you can create models that test different costings, budgets and outcomes. Figure out how much something will cost and how long it will take. Compare different models to find the most efficient and cost-effective approach to completing projects.
4. Deal with the unexpected
The difference between the best project managers and the rest is their ability to react quickly to change. Their choice of using resource management software with modeling functionality helps too. By modeling the impact of potential responses, you can deploy a solution in minutes rather than days.
Resource modeling allows you to try out new things in a risk-free environment. Without the pressure of your changes being deployed instantly, you can work out innovative responses to problems. There’s always a better way of doing something. Resource modelling gives you the space and freedom to find it.
With resource management software that has advanced modeling functionality, you can better prepare your projects and deal with problems that occur.