The three pillars of effective resource and project management for agencies

Posted by Deltek on December 3, 2020

TwitterTweet it:' Successful project and resource management relies on setting up the right building blocks—and then following the right steps.'

With the recent global crisis creating a tipping point for digital transformation, and increasing competition with the industry, agencies are faced with tighter margins, and higher customer demand for higher quality work at a lower price. And with your people under more pressure, you may find employee turnover or burnout is on the rise. You can safeguard against these challenges—but only with effective resource and project management.

In our Agency Best Practice Guide for Operations Management, we establish the key responsibilities of resource and project management teams, setting out the key building blocks and processes to follow for success. As a preview, this blog will show you what a solid foundation looks like—and how you could benefit from following best practice guidance for operational management.

Streamline project management from ideation to delivery

Successful project management often boils down to three pillars:

An established, correct baseline

Project failure—which, unfortunately, does happen—can be costly. But it can be easily prevented. It’s usually a result of staffing miscalculations, inaccurate planning, or an error in your planning or budgeting.

Setting an accurate baseline, with a precise SOW and signed-off price quote, is critical to executing a project successfully. Once your foundation is in place, you can establish key financial and staffing processes to ensure smooth delivery.  

Executed projects, and controlled progress

As your project continues, you’ll need to manage progress with established processes, each with regular cadence.

Some of these processes should be carried out monthly, such as financial tasks like project invoicing or cost control. Meanwhile, others—including project staffing monitoring and time and progress reporting—should happen more frequently, on a weekly basis.

Financial control

Finally, to ensure your project stays on budget, and get ahead of over-servicing, you’ll need a tight hold on your financials. Setting the baseline, with a signed-off quote and estimate—will help with this, as will having the correct processes in place account for any additions to the scope.

Ensure accurate resource planning and forecasting

As with project management, we’ve also defined three key pillars that support effective resource management:

Fully staff all signed projects

Before you can plan where and how you’ll assign resources, you’ll need to get a complete view of every task your team will perform in the next two months—and create a project plan for all signed projects.  This ensures that you have the right visibility into your team’s capacity and availability, so that you can balance workload and boost utilization daily as things might change.

This means that your resourcing plans need to include the right level of detail. Too little and they’ll be ineffectual, too much and they’ll be hard to follow, and hard to update.

Future-facing plans

Resource plans need to be centralized and visible across the entire team—or it may lead to poor data quality and untrustworthy planning. If your teams start to defer to local spreadsheets, people could end up working from different versions of the truth, or outdated information. You may find this has a ripple effect across your team’s resource capacity, projected progress and budget. But it’s easily avoided by establishing clear, easy-to-follow resource management processes, and ensuring that there is strong, decisive support from management.

Happy people

As a creative agency, people are at the heart of what you do. So, you need to make sure you’re utilizing employees effectively, providing an optimal work/life balance—and keeping your employees happy and healthy.

Part of that involves tailoring your hiring process to support the right balance of full-time staff and freelancers to successfully deliver all the work in your pipeline. You’ll find that when you can make better decisions about when to bring in freelancers based on the work that’s coming in and your team’s capacity to take it on has a major impact on your bottom line.

Get the complete picture with our full guide

Successful project and resource management relies on setting up the right building blocks—and then following the right steps. We’ve outlined the basic foundation here, but the full guide will help you evolve your resource and project management further, with insights, next steps, and key processes to follow.


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