6 Steps to Resource Management – How to Introduce Tactical Resource Planning Quickly

This article illustrates the fastest way to introduce tactical resource planning at your company. Thus, it goes a step further than the article Software Tools for Resource Planning which went into detail about the requirements for an optimal tool for tactical resource management.

You will be guided through the process in 6 detailed steps:

But let us first look at the meaning of resource planning.

Meaning of Resource Planning

By “tactical resource planning” we mean the coordination between project and line managers. It depends on the company’s form or organization (matrix or line). The goal is to meet the requirements for resources with the necessary skills for projects in a timely manner using staff from the line. This tends to be the team leaders’ task.

Only 2 Months to Arrive at a Useful Solution

Effective resource planning is the main desire of most companies seeking to implement a system for managing their projects and portfolios. However, for project managers, the focus ‒ at least initially ‒ is usually on PM methods, processes, and tools.

Resource planning is generally an afterthought. This is because resource planning is viewed as more difficult. Most people assume that, at least theoretically, good project planning is a prerequisite.

Resource planning is viewed as complicated because:

  • Project managers themselves often find it difficult to know exactly who will be needed for which project and when
  • It is difficult to get an overview of which employees, especially internal ones, are actually available.

But it depends on the benefit project management is expected to provide. It can actually make sense to introduce tactical resource planning in the beginning. In this case, project management is only introduced in a second step.

Naturally, you will begin with project management, if detailed scheduling of projects has priority for you. And resource planning does not take center stage.

But you may be primarily looking for an overview of who works on what, and when. After all, only an overview of this kind allows you to assign projects and activities properly. In this case, we recommend the following approach: attend to the team leaders first and to the project managers afterwards.

Our tip: Do you require an overview of who works on what? And when? If you need this to be able to assign projects and activities properly, start with the solution for the team leaders. Then tackle the project managers next.

In our experience, the approach of focusing on the team leaders outlined below can be very fast. You may arrive at useful resource planning in only two months.

The figure below reveals the difference in time. You will reach your goal much faster with the overall planning of the resources by the team leaders. The detailed resource planning from the projects, albeit incomplete in total, takes considerably longer.

Reasons for the Difference in Time

What is the reason for this striking difference? These are the most important reasons:

  1. When introducing project management, you will have to establish several processes and methods which are unnecessary for tactical resource management.
  2. The number of project managers tends to be higher than that of team leaders. Thus, their training will take longer to begin with. What is more, they have to invest much more work into the detailed planning of their projects than team leaders into their overview.
  3. Projects have a start and a finish date. Team planning occurs without start and finish date month after month.
  4. It is not worth introducing a new system for projects that are almost completed. Hence, you transfer only long-running and new projects into the new system.

For these reasons, it will take many months to reach the desired situation. Eventually, you will get an overview of the resource utilization from the overall planning of many project managers. Yet, even this overall planning will only comprise project activities. Activities outside of projects are not taken into consideration.

Read about the central role of resource planning in this article:

This means that the resource utilization is still far from complete with the approach via the project managers. Yet, this is exactly what matters. For only a complete resource overview is useful. And this you can easily obtain from the team leaders.

Our tip: A resource overview is only useful when it is complete. The team leaders can actually provide one easily.

You can start complete resource planning in your teams any time. Besides absences and operations, you should consider all projects at least roughly at the highest level. Even without knowing the details at the level of tasks, you should be able to assign people to projects with a share of hours per month.

Team Leaders Should Know Their Team Members’ Responsibilities

As a rule, team leaders know what the members of their team are working on. At the very least, they know:

  1. In which projects they are involved
  2. When they are absent
  3. What other responsibilities they have

They may not always know the details, but their knowledge of the employees’ activities is comprehensive.

Without an adequate overview, the team leader will not be able to explain the team’s workload. For instance, he or she will struggle to clarify why a new project request will not fit into the team’s current resource utilization. This is despite the fact that this case tends to be one of the most important reasons for introducing resource management in the first place.

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To respond to questions of availability, team leaders do not need perfect and detailed planning. Chiefly, they require a complete overview of all resources and their respective activities. The team leader gains a lot by having more or less accurate answers to these questions. This is significantly better than a wrong answer.

It is a mistake to make commitments which cannot be kept. The usual reason is that activities were neglected when calculating the workload.

Apart from that, the team leaders’ planning almost always fluctuates except for vacation and a few regular meetings. After all, it is usually based on estimates.

The key difference lies in this: are you surprised that team members do not have time?

  1. Is this because they are pursuing activities the team leaders are unacquainted with? That is bad. You will need to work on your resource planning methods.
  2. Or are known activities simply taking longer than assumed? This is easier to justify.

Only Complete Resource Planning is Useful

Therefore, the primary objective is not necessarily perfect resource planning. What you need is complete resource planning. Resource planning only begins to be useful once it is complete. The initial complete plan can be refined in further steps.

Later, you can mainly improve one thing: the regular and increasingly more specific coordination with the project managers. The rest lies in the team leaders’ responsibility anyway. And soon it will also be available in the right system.

Our tip: What you require first is complete resource planning. It only begins to be useful once it is complete. Missing details can be added later to enhance its value.

Below, you will learn how to introduce tactical resource planning via the team leaders.

If you want to persuade the team leaders, you need to highlight the benefits of a central system for resource planning as follows:

  1. Decision-makers receive utilization overviews of all teams. As a rule, these are aggregated. Yet, the decision-makers have the option to “drill down” to every individual team. This provides them with all the necessary details to make informed decisions.
  2. Team leaders obtain valid utilization overviews. These enable them to achieve the best possible utilization of their team, without overload.
  3. Project managers obtain more reliable commitments regarding:
    – the availability of suitable resources (in matrix organizations)
    – delivery dates of results (in line organizations)

Do some marketing for the introduction of tactical resource management! Get the affected people involved. But watch out: be aware that you are also creating a transparency some team leaders may not be comfortable with.

Original Source of this article take it from Introduce Tactical Resource Planning Quickly – In 6 Steps (Update 2021) (theprojectgroup.com)

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