Managing projects comes with its fair share of challenges. From difficult stakeholders to resource shortages, a project manager must know how to navigate tricky situations. What makes it even more challenging is the fact that project managers...
Resource management challenges are bound to a very nature of working with teams. Oftentimes you need to plan the work and resources managing multiple projects at once.
Organizing, monitoring and improving processes are crucial parts of resource management that may make or break your projects.
Seems like quite a lot to handle? Let’s break these challenges into manageable parts and see how you can overcome them in your work.
Challenges project managers face (and how to handle them)
Recognizing the right skills for the project
Starting a new project, you need to find employees with the right skills. Easy as it sounds, it may be a challenge if you don’t have a clear overview of your resources. Having a list of employees you can sort by their skills or position is useful, as you can quickly find people able to deliver a given project project.
Next, find out if they are available during the estimated schedule. You can also use a skills matrix or a RACI chart (aka responsibility assignment matrix) to mark what they are responsible for.
Aligning team’s availability and capacity with project’s schedule
Managing employees’ availability, their capacity and ability to meet the schedule are closely connected. Let’s see how you can manage risks while planning resources and the schedule for your project.
Know your team’s availability
Knowing whether somebody works full-time, or is a freelancer billing by the hour, you can assess their availability. What’s a true challenge here, is that this availability may change in at least appropriate moment for you.
Manage risks before they occur
Planning resources, not only double-check your team’s availability, but also have a plan B in case of losing some resources.
Is there another employee with similar skills who could take over the task? Or maybe you can outsource the work to a freelancer?
Either way, it’s good to know your alternatives up front, rather than getting stuck with no resources for a task in the middle of project. You can check for national holidays and planned personal time off too, so you can include those in your schedule.
Take your team’s capacity into account
In the best-case scenario, using bottom-up estimation with your team members, they might have an idea of how long each assignment will take, based on their previous experience. If not, you should take historical data into account.
This way, you can assess time estimates based on your team’s past performance, reducing the risk of exceeding their capacity.
Avoid unrealistic schedules
If you take resource availability and their capacity into account, you can avoid yet another challenge – creating unrealistic schedules. Knowing when your employees are available and how much work they can do within a given time frame, schedule your project more accurately.
Managing workload without resource hogging
Planning the work and then monitoring it to avoid under- or overutilization is very important for ensuring your team’s productivity. Otherwise, having to much work, employees might start feeling burnt out, while having too little to do makes them unhappy, too.
Adjust the workload as soon as you notice that someone is overworking, while others don’t have that many tasks. See if you’re able to split the work, e.g., by using resource leveling. It’s a project scheduling technique in which you divide or merge activities according to the resources’ availability. Be aware, though, that it may have a negative impact on your project’s timeline and budget.
Avoid resource hogging
While planning the work and resources, it may be tempting to add more manpower than you actually need. This “just in case” resource allocation are, however, considered a mistake project managers often make.
Adding more resources than needed skews the estimated time and budget, blocking employees for other PMs too. This may result in more work for those they’d booked earlier or underperforming.
Try to assign only the team members you know you’ll need. In case anything changes, it’s always better to negotiate over an employee with another PM.
In order to avoid common resource management challenges, try to incorporate this ideas in your work:
- Be realistic – make plans that fit project requirements and don’t add more bookings than you need.
- Trust data more than your assumptions – use inputs and reports from past projects to plan new ones.
- Have an overview of your resources – know what resources you may use, what skills they have and what is their availability.
- Align your projects with company’s capacity and pipeline – always include other projects and priorities, so that you’re aware about potential clashes and changes.
- Be there for your team – meetings with your team will help you discover their pains and challenges early on, so you have a time to respond and improve.