According to Guy Marsh, Head of Resource Management at Shell, in an interview with Precursive, resource management is “the demand that you have versus the capability of your resources, your people, versus the availability […] You need to know what’s coming in, you need to know who can do that, and you need to know when they can do that.”
The availability of resources, the timelines of activities, the number of assets, and the skills needed to complete certain tasks are just a few important questions for companies in today’s business world, which is dynamic and prone to change. By addressing them properly, your organization will reduce costs, increase productivity and optimize your workforce. However, changes in the business world and fast technological developments mean the field of resource planning is quickly evolving. So, what does the future hold? Here are a few trends that might help you figure it out.
Switching from project-view to enterprise-view
Gone are the days of having small teams working separately. Organizations like yours need to understand how important it is to look at the bigger picture and coordinate everything on the macro as well as the micro-level. “Where traditionally that has been done at a kind of siloed level,” Marsh explains, “now it’s done on a broader scale in which we are heavily reliant on technology to get that wholesale view of what’s happening”.
If your company still uses spreadsheets to plan your resources, then you’re in for a shock: not only is this so passé, but it is also the pet peeve of any tech junkie. Despite being relatively accessible, spreadsheets were not built to accommodate such high volumes of data, let alone interlink information. Anyone who has ever used a spreadsheet knows just what a nightmare they are to maintain, how much additional work they require, and how prone to error they are. In fact, it is believed that 88% of spreadsheets contain mistakes. The future of resource management is all about efficiency, and your 9-year-old Excel sheet just won’t cut it.
Making visibility king
As we’ve already covered, planning your resources effectively requires an understanding of the means available compared to what you need to complete the project. However, many managers forget that human resources aren’t just about the ‘body count’ — they’re also about the skills and time of your people. There’s a clear shift towards transparency and visibility of all of the abilities and schedules involved in a project so appropriate time is allocated.
For example, let’s say one of your employees has completed multiple projects using an obscure coding language. You receive a new project that requires that particular language, and you start to panic, losing time looking for someone with this skill until said employee reveals they have mastered it at a planning meeting. If you don’t push for employees to tell you about these things, there’s no way that you’ll know you can use your in-house resources instead of seeking outside help. This isn’t possible without a visible list of all of your tasks and your employees’ competencies.
Stopping time wasting
In the past, resource planning was left to the last minute, waiting for a contract to be signed before starting to map out a project. However, this is incredibly inefficient, and resource management in the 2020s is going to be all about efficiency. There needs to be a balance so you’re not squandering time planning for a project that will never happen, or waiting until there’s hardly a moment to spare. It is recommended that you start your resource management plan once the opportunity becomes tangible, with a high probability of it closing.
Prioritizing team over individual
The modern way of working no longer accepts different people working in isolation on individual parts of a project. We’re constantly collaborating, brainstorming and feeding off of each other’s ideas. Everyone who works on a project expects to be fully involved. It is essential that your resource management bears this in mind and focuses on healthy and frequent communication between your employees, encourages feedback and constructive criticism, and has a common approach agreed upon by all stakeholders.
Making use of data
If there’s one sentiment many businesses live by, it’s ‘if it doesn’t have data to back it up, it doesn’t exist’. Your plan has to include a strategy for collecting the right insights. However, in resource management, sometimes you can have too much data, so you need to have the appropriate tools and procedures to make sense of it all, and translating findings into coherent details for relevant stakeholders and management. As data becomes increasingly vital to any corporation, the importance of being able to produce, analyze and decipher it cannot be overstated.
We live in tumultuous, unprecedented times. This means companies need to adapt along with them. There’s even a whole new process solely focused on future-proofing businesses, called ‘change management’. Resource planning can’t stay behind the curve on this either. There has to be constant reflection on different procedures, ensuring they are followed but also making them flexible enough that they can be tweaked if they’re not as efficient as you’d like. Don’t be afraid to review and assess yourself, or try out new management styles — that’s the only way to grow.
Keeping admin to a minimum
Did you know that on average, employees spend 60% of their time doing ‘work about work’, such as chasing approvals from internal stakeholders or looking for documents? This is an outrageous waste of resources, and your plan has to tackle it. Good preparation doesn’t only mean you’ll save time and money on project implementation, but also on the side tasks. Make sure all the software you use is integrable so you’re not squandering precious moments copying information or switching tabs. We have technology to do most of our menial duties now, so utilize it to reduce administrative efforts.
Saying goodbye to multitasking
The concept of multitasking is outdated. Research has found it can reduce productivity by 40% and even impact cognitive abilities as a whole. Good resource management clarifies what tasks are expected from employees, the necessary deadlines, and the team’s timeline more broadly. If your plan involves too many tasks for your team to juggle, it might look more efficient, but it will only eat into your capacity, as well as burn out your workers. What’s more, make sure your employees give you regular feedback about their workload. Avoid compelling them to multitask.
Working smart, not hard
If we have to pick one trend and crown it the most consequential, it would be the rise of automation. More and more businesses are realizing the importance of their employees’ Technology Quotient, which is the ability to use technology to improve their work, adapt to new innovations, and be computer literate. Ensuring that your team’s TQ is high means increased productivity and efficiency which your resource management will benefit from.
Involving technology in your work is essential, and there’s so much resource management software to choose from, but it has to be done with intelligence. It’s not about the number of programs you implement, but the quality. Selecting the right software based on your company’s needs is far more effective than adopting a thousand different cutting-edge systems that will end up confusing your employees, derailing projects, and rendering them impossible to navigate.