Allocating resources effectively and accurately is one of the biggest challenges for any project. No team is going to have a smooth project experience when the project managers or team leaders don’t know how their team members and budgets are allocated across projects and tasks.
One of the big problems project teams face is that there’s no shared location that shows how and where resources are deployed. By resources, I mean team members, along with the dollar amounts associated with pay and billing rates. When you don’t have the right data associated with each resource, this turns the act of allocating resources into a guessing game—bad for the project and bad for business.
When managing knowledge work in a flat organizational culture with well-paid, senior, respected, and efficient colleagues, it’s hard to ask them to complete their project task between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday just so you can pop it into your resource scheduler.
Subject matter experts often manage their own tasks and workload. You give them a deadline, they get it done. Might be first thing in the week or late on Sunday night, but you get it. In that sense, it doesn’t matter when the work is completed.
Except… it does matter. That approach might work if the subject matter expert was only involved in one project. But layer on the other 10 that individual is contributing to, and then try to work out if their department has the capacity to support another couple of “business critical” projects. Suddenly, your key resource is drowning and you didn’t see it coming.
This isn’t the case in certain industries where time tracking and resource-level planning is the norm, or where people only work on one project at a time and it’s their full-time job. Industries like construction, software engineering, and consultancy probably see this as less of an issue.
But for everyone else, resource management in knowledge work is a huge problem. I don’t have an answer, but I know there are software tools (like LiquidPlanner) that alleviate the challenge and make it transparent. I think moving to using them is a huge cultural change.
Next year I think this problem will only get worse. Expect to see more conversations at your workplace about resource management, scheduling people on projects, and capacity planning.