A solid resource management strategy is just as important as having a highly skilled project team. Without good resource management, teams would just run around doing their own thing until the project misses all of its deadlines and fails. With resource management, project teams can perform at a level much higher than the sum of its parts.
Here are some tips for a good resource management strategy:
Dividing your team into specialized sub-teams makes sense if they’re performing highly specialized tasks or will be working closely together. But this doesn’t mean you should isolate them from the rest of the team.
Track all of your resources in the same pool—even if they’re working on separate things. This keeps things transparent to the rest of the team and, more importantly, gives an accurate idea of resource availability. Because you never know when you might need to “borrow” from one of the sub-teams to fill out a gap elsewhere.
Create a Skills Library
If you lead a smaller project team, you probably won’t have any trouble remembering who can do what. But project managers who work in larger organizations could benefit from a skills library that tracks the strengths of each team member for easy reference.
Project managers can consult the skills library during the planning phase so they can check if they have the capability to execute the project, and if they have to source from outside.
Make Contingency Plans
As much as we’d like our team to be available whenever we need them, people do get sick or take vacations. But we can’t afford to wait for them to come back before they can finish their assigned tasks. Progress still has to be made despite their absence.
Contingency plans are a vital part of resource management for this very reason. You can either hire redundant skill sets that can cover for each other, or have an outside contractor ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. Either way, you’ll be reducing the impact of absences on your deadline.
Oh, and don’t forget to plan for your own absence as well.
Review Workloads Well in Advance
Question: Do you know the best time to plan your resources?
Answer: As soon as you break the project down into tasks.
Compare your skills library (you remember that, right?) with your project workload as soon as you can create it to see if there are any gaps in your capabilities. By doing it early, you have enough time to look for additional resources and fill out your team. If wait until the last minute, you may find yourself missing a vital skill at a critical moment.
Give Your Team Support
Your team relies on you for support, just like you rely on them to get the job done. Get your team whatever they need, whether it’s equipment, additional manpower, or more hours. Training and development is very beneficial for both them and you, as it grows their skills as well as expands your team’s capabilities. Emotional support and leadership is also important, and as the project manager you need to be able to motivate your team to perform at their best no matter what personal or professional hardship they experience.
Image credit, Flickr, MissTessmacher