Improving project resource management and capacity planning

Jerry Manas
July 8, 2013

It’s a challenge many of you face daily: How do I make the best use of my company’s limited resources and focus them on projects that are important to the business? More than 600 people in 17 countries recently weighed in on this very topic. While many are struggling to control and optimise their resources, the good news is that the highest maturity organisations provide a blueprint for how to improve.

Commissioned by Planview and conducted by Appleseed Partners and OpenSky Research, the 2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study [download here] is the most comprehensive ever conducted on the topic. Let’s take a closer look at the key findings:

Top maturity level evades most; road to success begins with visibility. One-third of organisations report having little visibility into capacity or demand, no process for dealing with demand, and resources that are often overbooked or idle. Operating blindly when already dealing with constrained resources and competing projects should be a huge concern for any business. The consequences are lost productivity; staying in crisis mode; basing decisions on bad data; not leveraging resources for high-value projects; and delayed time to market.

Another one-third of companies have achieved a managed, controlled, and optimised environment. Most of these have an effective planning process with visibility into role-level demand before work is committed; the ability to balance organisation-wide capacity against demand; views into detailed project schedules; and the ability to make resource requests and assignments at the role/task level.

Only 5% of these organisations report being at the highest maturity level, which is characterised by being able run what-if scenarios on demand, adapt to change effectively, and apply resources to the highest potential opportunities. As a result, these organisations solve more strategic problems and experience tangible business benefits, including increased productivity, maximised revenue, and lower costs.

The remaining third have reached a ‘limited’ maturity level, characterised as having gained some visibility into resource utilisation. With this visibility comes more awareness of their challenges, including those around change, prioritisation and effective management of shared resources.

High sharing of constrained resources, but no capacity/resource management function.
Exacerbating the problem of limited visibility is the finding that 80% of organisations share resources across projects, teams, departments, states, and/or countries. The global challenge of doing more with less makes the ability to optimise these finite resources even more critical.

However, only 45% report having a capacity planning and resource management function, resulting in resource misuse, misalignment, and cost and quality issues.

According to one of the survey respondents: “The risk of not addressing resource management and capacity planning is going from crisis to crisis and resources being unclear on what to work on, which can lead to the risk of projects not getting done on time. Another risk is overcommitting and overworking resources and losing the good people. When you have the right plan in place, this is not a problem.”

Author avatar
Jerry Manas
Jerry Manas is the author of the bestselling books Napoleon on Project Management and Managing the Gray Areas. Throughout his career as an author, speaker, and consultant, Jerry has built a reputation for taking complex information and processes and making them clear and accessible. As senior editor at Planview, he applies this passion to developing best practices that help organisations achieve breakthrough performance across a framework of processes and roles.
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