Within the mechanics of your business, there is essentially a bunch of projects of different sizes going on at all times which, on the face of it do different things but are tasked with the same ultimate end goal. This common thread they share is the goal of moving your business forward; whether it’s to increase profits, reduce expenditure, or to expand the purpose of the company. Along with the day-to-day administration of running a business, projects are what the people in your company are concerned with week-to-week and month-to-month.
If a big project succeeds, the business grows, and people are rewarded. If a project fails, the business takes a hit. The ratio of successes to failures is the difference between a business staying afloat, or sinking to the bottom of the vast enterprise ocean joining all the other business shipwrecks.
What causes a ship to wreck?
Well, I have theory. My theory is that no matter what your business, no matter your size, the most essential, most crucially important aspect of your organization is your resources. If businesses are made up of varying sized projects that succeed and fail, on repeat, it’s your resources that are responsible for your success. No, let me rephrase that: it’s you who is responsible for managing the resources in the most effective way who is ultimately responsible. Don’t want to end up on the bottom of the broken business ocean? Then you better get your resource management in order.
What is resource management?
First, it’s probably useful to define what resource management is. Basically, if you think of a project, you know that there are big and little things that allow you to complete it successfully. Managing resources is concerned with knowing what (or who) is available within a business to complete the work:
- The personnel/skills available
- Distribution/Logistical ability
- Knowledge of the demands of an individual project
If your resources are managed and used effectively, your project has a good chance of success. Yet, mismanagement of your resources can lead a project to:
- go over budget
- take longer than scheduled
- generate expensive overtime
And there are other headaches. Your employees may not be precisely sure what their exact role on a given project actually is, eventually resulting in their time and skills being wasted. And of course, there are always the possibilities of the unforeseen – a market downturn, employee issues, a company merger, etc. The bottom line? If you don’t have a dedicated Resource Manager (or equivalent), your business processes and projects have the potential to become rudderless and really chip away at your long-term profits.
Resource Managers and their importance
For my money, this isn’t a new thing. Companies have always needed a dedicated resource management team. If it’s a small company, okay, maybe you have one individual, maybe it’s the CEO who’s making sure his or her resources are doing the work they need to do. If it’s a growing business with growing resources, maybe the CEO delegates to one of his division managers or team leaders. If you’re a multi-national corporation, it’s more than likely you’ll have a whole department dedicated to the task of making sure things are humming along nicely. Likely you’ll find resources managers in the Project Management Office (PMO). The point here is you need to have a skilled person in a dedicated role.
All too often, companies try to fit round pegs into square holes. While understandable, it can cause big problems. A recent Manpower survey looked to find out what the impact of talent shortages could have on a business. The following was highlighted:
(Source: Manpower 2015)
What does this tell us? In a nutshell, when the business doesn’t have the right employees with the right skills in place, your company suffers.
Poor allocation of resources is a major cause of project failure
A lot of the time, companies find that they have too few resources spread across too many projects at the same time. This can be a result of a couple of things.
- Firstly, a lack of visibility to available resources and overworked individuals. How do you know if someone is working too hard, or not hard enough?
- Secondly, communication. Often overlooked, poor communication can mean people don’t actually know who’s doing what, when they’re doing it and why.
- And thirdly, expectation. We all have a goal in mind for project completion, but is that realistic? Have the right resources been allocated to their strongest areas? Are there enough people to actually do the job? Your leading member of staff is away for two weeks, how is that going to affect the overall due date? Not knowing and being reactive is why projects fail.
This is where the Resource Manager comes in. It’s their job to make sure there is a clear and functional strategy for defining what resources are available, what projects they can be designated to, what would happen if part of a project was delayed, plus much, much more.
Thankfully in 2016, as technology continues to evolve and innovate there is a growing arsenal of tools for managing resources at your disposal; no matter the size of your business or your goals. But without the right person overseeing your resources, the chances of project (and company) success is at risk.
So ask yourselves these questions:
- Do you have the right people working in the right area?
- Are you struggling to meet the expectations of your clients?
- Do you know what all your resources are actually doing?
- Do you have people overstretched and not utilizing their own skill set?
- Are your project costs running over budget?
If the answer is yes, then hiring a Resource Manager should be high on your agenda.