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Resource management as a secret weapon of a successful project manager

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Resource management as a secret weapon of a successful project manager

Project managers who do resource management successfully reap more benefits in terms of better project outcomes and happier teams and clients.

Resource Management is knowing how to utilize resources in an efficient way so projects get delivered on time, clients are happy with deliverables, teams don’t burn out, and there’s an actual profit at the end of it all.

Wikipedia describes it as the efficient and effective development of an organization’s resources when they are needed.

Resource management can be applied to various aspects of a business in different industries, though it usually deals with Project Management. In other words, for the purpose of this article, let’s stick with Project Resource Management.

Resources can be intangible, like People and Time, and tangible, like Cash and Technology. Each aspect needs to be managed properly so they’re available and not diminishing, as they overlap in the process.

With the ever increasing trend of #WFH (working from home) and remote work, which a lot of successful companies big and small have recently adopted, it’s more crucial than ever to do project resource management right.

Something you’ve already been doing

Chances are, if you are a project manager, you’ve already been doing project resource management. The important part is to be aware of it and its techniques, which in turn will help you catapult ahead and become an irreplaceable “wizard” project manager of sorts.

Here are some real life examples:

Content Marketing Firms

If you are a content marketing firm, you will need writers and time to get the job done. Sometimes you may have less time for each of one of your writers, in which case you may get your client to agree on a smaller scope with a potentially similar impact. Other times, you may have the time, but less writers on hand. Knowing how to handle these situations is key in doing project resource management the right way.

Web Design Firms

In a web design firm, you’ll need web designers, front and back-end developers, technology (servers, framework of choice), writers. Each one of these resources (people mostly) needs to be arranged so they work in sync, and no part of the project is delayed. You may start with the design first (web designers), however your front and back-end developers should not be waiting around. They might be finishing up another project as the UI design is being completed in a new project, in which case they can start fresh right after.

Advertising Agencies

At an ad agency, you will have designers, copywriters, ad producers (usually third parties: cameras, editors), and clients to manage. It’s a wide skill set that requires a ton of flexibility, facilitation, understanding, and zen like traits, so you don’t lose your mind by mid-March.

A well oiled machine

As you can see, this dance needs to be choreographically refined if your goal is to run a profitable business with a happy productive team behind it.

Now you don’t need to run everything as a Swiss watch, even though that should be the aspiration, but you may run the risk of burning out your team and not having them “fresh” for next projects in line.

In other words it’s OK for your team to slack around from time to time. Example: Your front-end developer might go at full speed as they’re delivering a project. And once the next week rolls in, they can do a bit of maintenance on older projects, while “waiting around” for the UI designer to get done with their part. This way they’re resting actively, recharging their batteries, and getting ready for the next sprint. In our line of work it’s a long marathon made up of many sprints and active rests.

As your team grows and learns working with one another. They’ll unknowingly lend you a hand and manage themselves, while always understanding what’s to come.

Micromanaging is something you want to avoid as your team grows, not just in numbers but in wisdom. Your aim is to let go of direction. Running a synergized team that understands the overall goal is where you want to be.

At the core of it, project resource management is “energy management”. You want to manage your finite energy, or rather your team’s finite energy. The intent should always be to let it replenish and go again at it the next time around.

What about transparency?

A lot of firms employ transparency about every bit of their project. Some go down into detail and share every aspect of it. While we at Claritask like to run things transparently, we believe that way too much of it can backfire and inundate some of your team members. We’re not suggesting “you hide” things from your team. Information should be freely available across the board. But, there are times when junior team-members could easily be intimidated by the overall scope and importance of your project. As they keep growing into seniority, they’ll naturally want to know more about how their contribution affects the overall project. It’s always best to let team members grow into the transparency they desire rather than throw every bit of information at them and run the risk of burning them out early on.

Companies big and small

Bigger firms have the actual resources to hire a “resource manager”. For the rest of us, it’s a skill we must hone as we manage projects on a daily basis. Being a project manager that does resource management well, gives you the rare super power not just to delegate tasks but when and how to delegate them.

In smaller companies, where project scope and pace might change on a weekly basis, you need to know when to take someone out of the project or shuffle them out entirely on a different deliverable. You want to do this gracefully or you may risk losing their trust next time around. This bit is called “Resource Leveling”: a technique that aims at discovering unused capacities of a team member. Let’s say someone in your team is a developer but they know a thing or two about UI design. You can quickly borrow this secondary skill they have and deliver your project on time.

The hard truth

The bottom line is this: You are not a complete project manager without the skillset of a resource manager. In other words, managing a project doesn’t mean just allocating tasks as they come in, without the sense of how things are moving forward, what tools you have left, how much time is at your disposal, and who from your team you have available at any given time.

At the core of it, successful project resource management:

  • Keeps everyone happy, so your and your team’s hair is not constantly on fire.
  • Gives you margin to try something new if things don’t work out the way you had planned initially.
  • Creates trust in your team. Lets your team know that you’re on their side by allocating resources and making their well-being a priority. Happy team = Successful project outcomes.

Resource managing “people” as a key aspect of any projects

Tangible things like Cash and Technology can be easily measured. People, on the other hand, are unpredictable. Not on a personal level, but things that happen around them. A successful project manager is always aware of their team’s biorhythm.

At times a specific team member may struggle with a single task because of the stress with the overall scope of the project. An empathic project manager will understand this and nudge them ever so slightly towards inspiration and motivate them to come up with an easier solution.

As you develop these skills, you’ll have a better sense of seeing problems before they surface. You’ll learn how to somewhat predict the future.

One of the best ways to understand how to “resource manage” your team is knowing what’s coming up for them in the near future. One way to do this in Claritask is via the “MY TASKS” section in which you can quickly view everyone’s load at one glance.

Being a successful project resource manager it makes your job easier. It helps you become a great leader as you move each chess piece confidently and with less risk, because you’ve created the necessary margins before the project even started.

This way you’ll deliver more projects on time, have happier clients, make more dollars per hours spent, and become known as a company that makes magic happen by delivering stellar work with less resources available.

If we want to leave one thing with you at the end of this article is this: The key to successful project resource management is to run a lean operation and do more with less waste along the way.

 

Written on August 16, 2020

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