Resource Planning: From Opportunity to Initiation
Congratulations! Your sales team just won the bid, and it’s time to start up the project. Now is when resource planning becomes a critical part of your project success. This is the phase in the project lifecycle when the project manager and resource manager create the project plan with tasks and dates, mapping out which people are needed to do which tasks, at which times during the project, and for how long.
In this blog, we will discuss the value of transitioning a fully formed project proposal into an actual project, making hiring choices, and working to ensure that resources are utilized, happy, engaged and properly challenged.
Consider a couple of different project initiation scenarios. First, let’s consider a situation in which the business development team did not consult the services team and did not include resource planning during the opportunity phase of the project lifecycle. Spoiler alert: this isn’t the scenario that’s bound to have a happy ending.
In this scenario, the project manager must create the project from scratch. There’s no existing timeline because it wasn’t in the proposal, there’s no “strawman” project plan because the sales team did not bring in the subject matter experts, and there’s no understanding of which resources will be necessary to get this project done on-time and within budget.
Now consider a wholly different scenario. In this alternate reality, the business development team and the services team worked collaboratively on the bid, using resource planning best practices to build out a sample project plan that identified the right people for the right tasks at the right times throughout the duration of the project. Starting to get the picture of where this one is headed?
In this scenario, the teams used resource planning tools to create an opportunity plan, which can now, with the click of a button, be turned automatically into the actual project plan. Think of time saved – weeks, perhaps... – Because the plan has already been mapped out.
By using resource planning during the opportunity phase of the project lifecycle, the stage is already set, the plan is already in place, the project team is already primed and ready to hit the ground running, and the customer sees a much faster project start.
The value is, you can create the project directly from the opportunity. You can secure the resources that were in the plan and can now secure any additional resources necessary to click “Play” and start the project.
Getting the Right People on the Right Projects with Resource Planning
Note that there can be too much of a good thing, however. One of the biggest challenges facing organizations is the tendency to use too many resources on a particular project, or putting in time that isn’t billable, just to keep the customer happy. Yeah, happy customers are important, but this is a recipe for lower profitability.
The most common cause of this is a lack of proper resource planning at project initiation. No clear overview of planned resources, and no plan for billing against what your people actually deliver, can create quite a gap between the two. And that gap can mean the difference between profit and loss on an account or project.
That’s why it makes so much sense to integrate resource planning with your project plan at project initiation. Doing so provides improved insight into the critical path – allowing you to focus on using the right resources at the right times.
Hire or Sub?
As mentioned previously, your planning process includes making the decision between bringing in a subcontractor or hiring someone to join your company. The initiation phase of the project lifecycle is the time to make those final decisions. You’ll base the choice on the actual project plan and a specific understanding of which resources are needed at which times throughout the project.
This is the place to consider all available resources through the duration of the contract. Imagine that the project is tasked with delivering precisely what your company does, but there’s one small piece that’s outside the skill set of your current resource pool. How long will that task take to complete? How many resources will be required? Are there other projects in the pipeline that have similar requirements, or is this a one‐off need?
In this scenario, you use your resource planning tools to look at the needs of the just‐initiated project, while also taking a broader look the pipeline. It may suffice to bring in another company do to the specialized work. Or, if other bids that also require this unique skill set are being prepared, perhaps you’d be better off bringing on a series of people in a temp‐to‐hire scenario, so that new projects can be staffed immediately if your company wins those additional bids, but you aren’t initially on the hook with permanent hires.
Powering Resource Management with Deltek Vantagepoint
When you bring resource planning right into the project initiation phase, you are kicking off your project with the greatest chance of success. You are able to build out project teams with the right skills, expertise and capacity, securing resources right from the start to ensure success.
To learn more about what Deltek has to offer, visit the Vantagepoint Resource Planning page.
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