If you work at the intersection of IT and the enterprise, you’ll know that analyst firm Gartner’s annual predictions for upcoming trends can shake the industry from top to bottom. Gartner ITxpo latest predictions include the emergence of ‘robo-bosses’; machines to replace up to 20% of business writing; and that a fifth of the smart buildings of 2018 will have been digitally vandalized. If you’re sceptical, it’s worth noting just how often Gartner’s predictions have materialized within the timeframe they suggest.

One area where Gartner has been paying an increasing level of attention in recent years is the field of Resource Management. A number of research notes, recommendations and expert advice have been released by Gartner analysts. The Stamford, Connecticut firm often spots trends before anyone else, so if your role relates to the management of resources, it’s definitely worth keeping your ear to the ground and knowing what Gartner has to say – you might just learn about a new trend that’ll impress your boss.

So, what is Resource Management, and what did findings from the Gartner ITxpo conclude?

Resource Management defined

In Resource Management for Portfolio Management: Walk Before You Run - Robert A. Handler and Donna Fitzgerald define Resource Management as follows:

“For clarity, our use of the term “resource manager” does not mean a line manager who manages people, as part of a functional role in building or acquiring software or infrastructure.
Rather, we are talking about a role that is largely dedicated to: (1) the process of effectively allocating … staff with the “right” capabilities to the “right” projects; (2) maintaining forward-looking forecasts of assignments and availability; and (3) some degree of workforce planning that ensures the organization will have … staff with new or needed skills in the future that match the strategic direction and goals of the business or agency. “

If you’ve ever managed a project, you likely recognize some – if not all – of these responsibilities. However, most PMOs don’t manage resources explicitly; Resource Management is often something done ad hoc. Project Managers may vaguely plan out who will do what, yet this is rarely ‘spelled out’ in detail.

Gartner, however, are keen to emphasize the importance of taking a much more conscious approach to resource management. Why is this?

The dangers of poor Resource Management

As a profession, Resource Management is so important because projects keep on failing due to a lack of realistic resource planning. As I’ve said before, project managers are expected to plan and prepare long and complex programs of work without any control over how resources are deployed. This means they make unrealistic resource allocations which don’t correspond with real world resource capacity.

Gartner reiterated this point in their research note Project Resource Capacity Planning for PMO Leaders: Crawl Before You Walk. Explaining the key challenges that PMOs face, they pointed out:

  • Organizations tend to overestimate the amount of slack available in their resource pool and over-commit resources for pending projects and programs.
  • Forcing people to jump from one activity to another unrelated activity through over commitment imposes a cost of 20 minutes to two hours in terms of efficiency and effectiveness of project work.
  • Insisting that projects must start “on time”, despite a lack of resources, can actually extend the end date of a four-month project for a year.

Without a Resource Management tool in place, projects are at an increased risk of failure. If you can’t visualize where your resources are, what their availability is and whether they are near capacity, you’ll struggle to allocate them correctly. As Gartner rightly highlight, misallocations can lead to real damage to the project’s chances of succeeding.

What does Gartner recommend?

In the 2015 Market Guide for Enterprise PPM Software, analysts Donna Fitzgerald and Teresa Jones explained the importance of strategically reacting to change. They highlight the fact that in today’s challenging market, it is essential that organizations develop an adaptive approach and a flexible strategy to react to unpredictable circumstances. The traditional approach to PPM – whereby projects and resources were managed statically and inflexibly – is shown to be outdated and an obstacle for project success. Instead, Gartner recommends you take a more pragmatic approach:

  • Strategy execution falls apart at the connection points. Supplement current PPM tools with tools, such as those in this Market Guide, that will help support better transparency of what the actual goals of the strategy are and ensure that everyone working on accomplishing those goals can share progress and knowledge.
  • Failure to acknowledge and then manage interdependencies is where many business transformation efforts get into trouble. Manage interdependencies, either using an EPPM tool or using the Gartner Execution Model.
  • Focus on user interface and usability in your tool selection process, to achieve a much higher level of engagement from the people committed to executing on strategy

Among Gartner’s suggested representative vendors is Tempus Resource, our Resource Management tool which provides a powerful yet easy to use interface for managing and visualizing resource portfolio capacity. Through resource availability heat maps and a powerful resource capacity modelling tool, you are able to better plan resource deployment and understand interdependencies across projects – just as Gartner describes.

Looking forward

With an eye on the future, Gartner are continuing to focus on the importance of resource management into 2016. In next June’s PPM and IT Governance Summit, analysts will be discussing, among other topics, the value of Resource Management in PPM. Intrigued to find out more about Resource Management and how it can help your teams? Contact us today.

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