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Four things I wish I knew about resource management before I started

Victoria Cullinane is a Resource Manager at Certinia. Read this blog post for some first-hand perspectives about the world of resource management and how to do it smarter.

When you research the phrase, “what is resource management”, you’ll notice a common theme. Words like, planning, scheduling, and allocating tend to be at the top of the list. While these key themes lie at the heart of resource management, effective resource management is much more than simply planning, allocating, and scheduling resources. Resource management is defined as the efficient and effective development of an organization’s resources when they are needed.

Resource management is key to an organization’s success as it aids in customer success and satisfaction, keeps your employees happy, and overall increases efficiency for your services team. I became a Resource Manager nearly five years ago working primarily in a professional services organization, and I’d like to share four things I wish I knew about Resource Management before I started my journey!

1. Be proactive, not reactive

As resource managers, we are constantly faced with challenges such as last-minute project extensions, demand in niche skill sets, customer projects with competing priorities, or shifts in schedules, to name a few. These challenges have potential to cause any organization to fall into a habit of reactive resource management. In my opinion, the most important tool for proactive management is to ensure your team has visibility into your organization’s pipeline. This will allow you to effectively capacity plan and gives us insight into how we can staff future engagements, whether that be with internal employees or externally contracted employees. Second, is to ensure you are setting the right expectations in terms of when your resources will be available. Communication is key in resource management, so staying in the know of your customers’ expectations for kicking off a project, or understanding when resources are planned to complete a current assignment, allows you to plan accordingly for what’s to come.

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2. Communication is key

One of the most important things I value about being a resource manager is having the ability to get to know teams across the organization.  My advice is to stay in constant contact with those who are bringing in new bookings for the company by understanding what they have coming in their pipeline, or letting them know if you have a bulk of skills readily available so they can present that to their customers—because as we all know, more bookings = more revenue. In addition, get to know your internal teams outside of the team you’re responsible for managing. It’s important to understand the skill sets and structures of other teams within your organization. Remember to ask as many questions as possible and build trust with those in your team.

3. Keep your skills data up to date

In any services organization, staying current with skills is key to top performance and staying on top of demands in the industry. Accurate skills data is extremely important to effective resource management. So how can you ensure your teams are staying on top of this?

As resource managers, we are the first step in ensuring that skills data is up to date, as we are the ones who are frequently reviewing resource’s skills when staffing new and upcoming assignments. Start by using the tools you have available to you to identify the skills you have today, for example, your organization’s skills matrix. From there, encourage managers to have conversations with their people to understand where we can upskill our employees or help them find ways to master a skill they have had little exposure to. Also, don’t hesitate to talk to your resources directly. Ask questions and understand their interest in new opportunities in the pipeline and help them get into training. Having these conversations more frequently will get your teams into a habit of leveraging the tools the organization provides to keep this information up-to-date and visible to those involved in the staffing process.

4. Resource management is an art and a science

Think about the metrics your organization tracks. Things like revenue, resource utilization, realistic margin, time to staff, or, as previously discussed, keeping updated skills data may come to mind. Now, consider the ways in which you track those today and ask yourself, is this providing me with the most accurate and clear data that I can provide to my team when having business discussions? If yes, great, then you are utilizing your organization’s resource management tools to their full potential! If not, it may be time to dig into how you can use the tools at your disposal to aid in producing more accurate and effective data. 

Resource management is very much an art and a science. By leveraging the tools you have, you are aiding the science behind it. Any resource management software allows you to produce accurate reporting and data that will, in turn, give you intelligent suggestions for future staffing or additional information to bring to your teams. The art that is produced from this intelligent information is the conversations you have will be more efficient, targeted, and productive for all involved.

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