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What does 2016 hold for Resource Management?

The beginning of a new calendar year brings with it an abundance of predictions and forecasts about what the coming 12 months has in store. For project management in 2016, there are many to choose from; but what does 2016 hold for resource management?

Changes and advances in the project management world are sure to have a significant impact, so can resource management expect to follow similar trends throughout 2016?

Before we discuss the year ahead, we’ll first touch on resource management as a practice.

“Resource management is the process of using a company’s resources in the most efficient way possible. These can include tangible resources such as goods and equipment, financial resource, and labor resources such as employees.”

Resource Management is a much younger methodology than project management (PM), but despite its infancy, it still shares a core focus that many practices can relate to – getting the most out of people. How is this done? Well, successful resource management relies on the power of modelling: the ability to ask ourselves questions about our plans – both short term and long term, and ultimately find better alternatives to our existing intentions.

So, will resource management continue to grow in 2016?

1. A growing market

Gartner’s predictions for IT Organizations & Users for 2016 lists a number of bold expectations: 3 million workers will be supervised by a “robo-boss”, and 45% of the fastest-growing companies will have fewer employees than instances of smart machines by 2018. As futuristic as these may sound, Gartner is usually impressively on-the-mark with their estimations.

Another area the research giant has been paying an increasing level of attention to is the field of resource management. After articulating the key challenges that PMOs face, analysts emphasized the importance of strategically reacting to change in today’s challenging market. Without the ability to visualize where your resources are – their availability and their capacity – it becomes much more difficult to allocate them. As a result, your projects are more susceptible to failure.

2. Keys to success

With trends such as collaboration and productivity sharing the spotlight in 2015, 2016 may see the ‘rise of the versatilists’ (we understand that’s not technically a word, but its message stands true). Versatility will play a larger role as business change comes round at a faster rate than ever. A Project Manager’s success will be about adapting: determined through the possession of strong leadership skills and the forging of strong relationships (with the right people).

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In the same vein, successful Resource Managers will also have to be versatile. They must be able to provide a realistic view of the project schedule and budget, which includes accounting for unpredictable variables that may occur over the course of a project. The ability to understand and evaluate a company’s resources in a holistic manner is vital to Resource Management (RM), and will likely become increasingly apparent – especially when Gartner predicts one-third of today’s white collar jobs will be gone by 2050.

3. The power of hindsight

It is quite possible that 2016 will spell the end for the turnkey, as project complexity increases. Today, 20% of projects are considered very complex, with numerous interdependencies and mixed work types. This added complexity begets an increased pace of change, and as such it’s expected that projects will begin without a defined end point, and instead will continuously evolve. This will provide new challenges for Resource Managers, with resource allocation becoming more difficult to perform considering the increased chance of more unforeseen variables and a lack of finish line in sight.

To combat this, Resource Managers will do well to rely on the modelling features in modern RM tools. By testing theories in a model, you are able to make more informed decisions, leaving less down to chance and minimizing risk. Exploring as many alternatives as possible, we can attempt to discover what would happen if an idea was implemented. Creating more well-founded plans will give a Resource Manager the confidence they need to make these decisions.

4. Managing ‘virtual teams.’

Like seemingly all areas of business, remote working will continue to grow in companies as we can access more Cloud storage for less money. In the U.S., roughly 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) currently work from home for at least half of their working week. From 2005 to 2014 alone, we saw a total telework growth across all sectors of 102%. So, these ‘virtual teams’ are continuously growing, able to work together regardless of geographical location and remain productive when at home, commuting or on their way to a client. This does, however, present some challenges for Project and Resource Managers.

As you can imagine, it’s much more difficult to effectively manage a team when said team may be in different cities, countries or continents. Add to that any potential language barriers and differences in time zones – as well as a likely change in an employee’s work/life balance – make for a Project Manager’s nightmare. Effective and consistent communication is the remedy, and thankfully technology can play its part in helping you communicate to pretty much anyone in the world.

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