Resource Planning Through the Project Lifecycle and Beyond
It’s difficult to succeed at adoption if you don’t understand the benefits of resource planning from a high-level perspective – the value it can bring through higher utilization, more successful projects, and increased profits. That said, resource planning isn’t just for high-level management. Resource planning plays a significant role and brings incredible value throughout the project lifecycle of every project, and for every member of the team.
In fact, resource planning is also a highly valuable tool for keeping those members of the team happy, engaged, and less likely to seek greener pastures elsewhere. You need your talent to remain in place so you can continue running your projects on schedule with as few changes as possible, and resource planning can help.
Project Management: A Historical Perspective
In the past, the concept of project management focused entirely on the project itself. It looked at one project at a time, in a virtual vacuum. Was the project successful? Did the project deliver on time and within budget? The project manager kept the project on track and managed customer expectations, and everyone was happy.
Notice the use of past tense in that preceding paragraph. Traditional project management focuses a whole lot on the past. How have things gone so far? Have we met deadlines? Have we kept within predetermined budgets? Therein lies the challenge of project management as it’s done today: It looks backward, at the parts of the project that are already complete, instead of looking forward.
Today’s technology provides a greater ability to plan effectively and track projects in near real‐time, and that means the historical perspective no longer tells the whole story. Incorporating resource planning into the project lifecycle provides the opportunity to look forward and get a much more complete picture.
Bring resource planning into each part of the project lifecycle and you’re far more likely to finish on time and within budget. Use resource management and planning across an entire organization and you boost your chances for higher profits. How can one technology do all this? By keeping track of resources — focusing on when and how those resources are being used, and ensuring that they’re used optimally across all projects within the entire organization.
It’s as simple as that. Resource planning can help increase your bottom line because it ensures that everyone is billing as often as possible.
Here’s an example: If you operate a company of 100 employees and you can find just one extra billable hour each month from each employee, you can boost your bottom line by more than $200,000 a year (depending on the hourly rates you charge). Yes, nearly a quarter million dollars of extra profit, just by gaining a single additional billable hour each month from each employee. Imagine the impact on the bottom line if you can find two, three, or even more extra billable hours — especially from those employees with higher labor rates.
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Resource Planning Within the Project Lifecycle
Here’s a peek at the value resource planning can bring at each stage of the project lifecycle as shown in the image above.
- Opportunity: A better understanding of resources can help the business development team create proposals that are on target with price and timeline. On‐target proposals — those based on actual availability of resources with specific skills and labor rates — are more likely to win work.
- Initiation: Once you’ve won the project, getting the project up and running without a hitch requires an understanding of available resources. Carrying resource planning over from the business development cycle to this stage helps you answer these critical project initiation questions:
- Are the resources you thought would be available actually still available?
- Do you need to hire additional staff?
- Do you need to bring on a subcontractor?
- Do you have team members with the credentials, certifications, or clearances required for the project?
- What about labor rates? If you change resources for the project, will it affect fees and, in turn, the profitability of the project?
- Execution: During the project execution phase it’s critical to have the most accurate, up‐to‐date, and complete information. How else can you make the right decisions throughout the duration of the contract? Beyond project initiation, your project’s success depends on having the right resources in the right place at the right time throughout the project. What if you need a particular resource for only two months? Resource planning helps you determine if this is someone you should hire, or bring on as a subcontractor or a temporary worker.
- Closeout: Yes, resource planning is important as the project winds down, too. First, it has a checks‐and‐balances function, tracking whether the figures in your execution phase were on target. Most important, however, it’s critical for ensuring that resources move quickly and efficiently from one project to the next, minimizing the amount of time folks sit on the bench. That’s one way you optimize your use of in‐house resources and gain those extra billable hours.
Remember, optimizing people skills = increased profitability.
Although resource planning provides value at every stage of the project lifecycle of a single project, that is only part of the story. The ultimate value (and an industry best practice) is using resource planning across all stages of all projects across the entire organization. Resource planning gives you a highly visual, intuitive, and transparent resource overview across your organization. And remember that it isn’t only for the higher‐ups — this is valuable, fact‐based information that can be accessed in real‐time by senior, department, and project managers, as well as employees.
With a bigger‐picture, long‐term overview of the capacity across your entire organization, you can move smoothly among operational, tactical, and strategic planning. You can increase profitability with a single, integrated solution that supports project planning and resource‐related work.
In fact, the more you embrace resource planning, the more benefit you can achieve. The more clearly your company grasps the billable hours it has spent with a client and the more assiduously it invoices, the more your profitability will increase. It’s essential to measure utilization and deploy the right resources to the right tasks throughout a project. That’s how you’ll reap the highest rewards.
To learn more about what Deltek has to offer, visit the Vision Resource Planning page, or watch our recent Vision Solution Speed Session Maximize Your Most Important Resources with Vision Resource Planning.
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