In Yahoo’s series on NFL veterans-turned-entrepreneurs, one of the most insightful articles highlights how the ability to adapt strategy is as useful in business as it is in football. The contributor explains how he achieved his long term goal of being a successful player by being flexible and adjusting on an almost constant basis. The same goes for his business career; to achieve long term goals, he set a plan, yet avoided being too rigid.
The NFL offers a good analogy for resource management in today’s business environment. Coaches and players need to be constantly prepared to adapt. Of course you need a game plan, but you also need to shift your players’ – or resource portfolio’s – strategy to the situation ‘on the ground’. Is the opposing defense showing the blitz? Much like a quarterback can audibly change the play, you should always be prepared to make changes to give yourself the best chance to succeed.
In the world of PPM, resource portfolio capacity management is much the same. If you have deployed 100 technicians to a project, but then the project gets cancelled, are you prepared to reallocate those resources? What if the organizational strategy has to change because of market uncertainty? Are you in a position to react proactively to new circumstances?
In today’s post, we explore how your business can become strategically proactive by following resource management best practices. Stemming from research and themes explored by ourselves and Gartner Inc. in our complimentary Whitepaper, we’ll discuss the latest techniques to help you prepare for the many challenges inherent in resource portfolio management.
“Strategies don’t fail for lack of planning. They fail for lack of agility or adaptiveness. Failure to deeply understand that ‘no plan survives engagement with the enemy’ contributes significantly for why work can get done, but results don’t get achieved”.
All too often, businesses have perfectly well laid out plans. Project managers are extremely capable of breaking each project down into a series of short term tasks and goals, and are able to allocate resources to these. However, in today’s unpredictable business climate, well laid plans simply are not enough. Instead, businesses need to become proactive, change their strategies when they see problems on the horizon and be able to alter their position to take advantage of new opportunities. As a result, simply ‘sticking to the plan’ is not enough.
What’s needed is a much more proactive approach to business strategy. At ProSymmetry, we see resources as key to a business’ success. The ability to flexibly move those resources to where and when you need them is absolutely essential. Just as in the NFL, if your opposition’s defense is stacking the box, you might consider throwing a quick screen pass to the flat. The same goes in business; if the competition is particularly strong in one market, you may need to reallocate your resources to counter that.
For Gartner, being able to really track your resource portfolio – to know where resources are and whether they are actually available – is absolutely key to strategic success. As the Market Guide puts it:
“People capacity planning becomes critical to ensure execution. People capacity planning is the ability to know, for example, that if you approve these 10 projects, then you will need 100 people from IT, 10 from finance, 5 from marketing, 15 from supply chain and 20 consultants/contractors to execute projects you’ve chosen to fund. It will support tracking that the required individuals are actually available and committed before the project can start.”
It is only by knowing that you actually have the right resources in place for when you need them that you can be proactive with your strategy. Put another way, adaptability is only possible if you know you can actually move people to where they’re needed.
To ensure you are ready to become strategically proactive, you need to be able to:
- Test alternative scenarios
What if your funding gets cut by 50%? What will you do if a client asks you to put a project on hold? Effective resource management is all about being prepared; knowing what you would do if unexpected events occur. You should have plans for alternative scenarios before they’ve even happened.
- Explore alternative resource portfolio allocations
The fundamental role of a resource manager is to be able to find the optimal resource allocation level, where people are working on the right projects at the right time and are not ‘over-stretched’ or under-utilized. Resource Managers can boost efficiency and productivity massively by getting resource allocation just right.
- Explore alternative project plans
In today’s challenging market, you should be able to explore alternative strategies and project plans. Your resource management tool should be able to tell you what would happen to your resource allocation if you ‘pushed back’ on Project A or split Project B, for example.
If you want to better understand how resource management tools can help your organization adapt its resources to changing ‘real life’ circumstances, download your copy of our Whitepaper today. Containing a complementary research note from Gartner worth $1200, the report will give you cutting-edge insights into the latest thinking on resource management.