GUIDE: How to set up an effective resource planning management?

Effective resource planning management allows:

  • improve the profitability of the business
  • accelerate the start-up of projects, thus improving growth and cash flow
  • improve customer satisfaction by proposing the most suitable profiles
  • improve employee satisfaction and commitment by better targeting projects to be assigned

Step 1

Define the main objectives expected through the management of the resource planning

Implementing effective management of resource planning requires a combination of putting the right tools in place and managing change with the teams involved. One cannot work without the other. Here are the steps to follow to implement a management of resource planning that will be the heart of the reactor of your growth.

The objectives expected from a good resource planning management can vary according to the activity and the priorities of each company. Of the key objectives listed below, it is important that you take a step back and define which ones are priorities. While they are all important, the approach may vary at the margin depending on the order of priority.

a. Give visibility to employees

As soon as it is set up, staffing management provides visibility on the teams' schedule. Managing resource planning means monitoring workload planning and assignments to projects and tasks. Regularly, employees lack visibility on their schedule in a few weeks. They know their schedule in the short term but lack visibility beyond that. By providing them with better visibility, you increase employee satisfaction, you give them more comfort because they can better project themselves and anticipate the implications of this schedule from a professional and personal point of view.

b. Facilitate load balancing to improve efficiency, and get projects to start faster

Businesses that operate in project mode are well aware of bottleneck problems. The very first bottleneck of a project is the lack of capacity of the teams. By managing staffing with the right tools, capacity improves drastically and bottlenecks are reduced. Projects start faster because the organization is better aligned and the visibility on everyone's capabilities increases.

c. Optimize the workload

In all project teams, the subjects of overload and underload are penalizing performance. Overloaded employees cannot deliver their work as well and risk burn-out, while underloaded employees represent poorly used resources for the company and risk becoming demotivated. Optimizing the workload to better distribute it and ensuring that everyone in the team is working to their full capacity promotes performance and employee satisfaction.

d. Conduct profile searches to meet needs

The resource planning can also be more focused on the process of finding profiles according to criteria. Without a tool, it is difficult to track requests, to enable a "match" between the need and the profiles that meet it. Whatever your objectives, make sure that management has set the priorities in order to set the right level of requirements in the implementation of your resource planning management.

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Step 2

Create the profile database

By taking into account as much data as possible to manage resource planning, you integrate more information to make the right decisions. Ideally, you create your profile database with the following data:

a. Names

This is a prerequisite for performing searches and providing visibility on assignments. In the medium term, project load planning can be applied to roles rather than names. But it is imperative to staff projects and tasks to specific people in the short term.

b. Roles & Teams

To better find the profiles in the database, you must assign "-tags-" to facilitate the search. Group them according to roles (developer, consultant, manager, ...) or grades (junior, senior, ...). If the teams are divided into departments or business units, you must also confirm to which team each profile belongs.

c. Competencies

When you manage a resource planning for teams of more than thirty employees, it is necessary to take into account the skills to better meet the needs of the customers. You must first establish a skills repository to update your profiles in a consistent manner. This repository must be the same for your employees, your subcontractors and your candidates, so that the searches for your resource planning are as relevant as possible.

d. Preferences

By encouraging your employees to indicate their preferences among a set of defined preferences, you make it possible to take into account this criterion, which will affect the satisfaction of your teams. Thus, employees should be able to indicate the type of project they would like to be positioned on (for example: data science, marketing, aeronautics, etc.). Although it is not always possible to exploit this data in a context of tension on capacities, if you answer favorably even in 30% of the cases, it will already make a huge difference for your employer brand and for the satisfaction of your employees.

e. Date of arrival and departure

By nature, a schedule is in constant motion. Some employees come in, others leave the company. The dates of entry and exit must be integrated into the database, so that the capacity calculation takes them into account. Otherwise, you risk staffing a profile that has already left the company.

f. Absences / part-time work

For a capacity planning to be useful, it is imperative to enter the periods during which your profiles are unavailable: vacations, stoppages and part-time periods. Without this data, the management of resource planning loses performance because crucial information is unavailable. Either your resource planning tool is connected by API to your HR absence management tool, or you regularly import (weekly for example) absence data into your resource planning tool.

Step 3

Choose the angle of view and the planning unit

Now that the database is ready, you need to assign the load to the different profiles. To do this properly, you need to set up the views that are appropriate for you. Here are the different options:  

a. With dates, in hours

If the projects are short, i.e. they last between a few hours and a few days, you should choose hourly planning and a day-by-day view. In this case, it is likely to be important to know the exact dates of the assignments, or even the defined times in a day. A calendar schedule is the best option. Add a view of resource planning with days (take the one with the color bars)

b. Weekly or monthly

If the majority of projects last more than 5 days, it is preferable to track the workload by week. That is, assign a number of days in a given week to a project. For example: assign in week 34 Bob Kennedy, 3,5 days on project XYZ According to the assignments on the various projects, the follow-up must allow you to know what is its remaining availability. For projects that last several months, the same approach should be taken at the month granularity. Ideally, you choose the finest granularity that suits you, and consolidation allows you to see it at other time horizons. Add a view of resource planning in % load (blue and red) with weeks in columns

c. By collaborator and by project

Your management of resource planning must allow you to manage the load of your employees. You need to have a global and accessible visibility that allows you to determine at a glance if employees are under or overloaded. But the management of resource planning must also make it possible to improve operational performance in several ways:

  • Knowing the remaining work to be done and the associated costs in order to calculate a project completion margin (which takes into account what has already been done and what remains to be done)
  • Monitor project planning and identify early on those that are going off budget

The assignment per employee must be transcribed into a project view: for each project, you must know the forecasted time to be spent per employee and, if necessary, per task.

Step 4

Accompanying change and placing resource planning at the heart of the reactor

Choosing a tool from resource planning or creating your own tool to manage resource planning is a first step that facilitates the implementation of the process. However, for the success to be guaranteed, it is imperative to accompany the implementation of the resource planning tool by a transformation that must engage the various managers and enable them to get their support.

a. Explain the impacts of good management of the resource planning

The first step is to explain the reasons for better management at resource planning. By detailing the following reasons, the perceived benefits to management and leaders should be enough to find alignment:

 i. Increase in the profitability of the activity

  • Increased time spent on billable projects
  • Optimization of the time spent by employees
  • Visibility on overloaded and underloaded subjects

ii. Improved employee satisfaction

  • Better visibility on its planning
  • Ease of positioning oneself on a project and expressing project preferences

 iii. Time savings

  • Task automation ( resource planning needs, profile searches, workflows and impact calculations
  • Centralization of project, resource planning and time spent data

 iv. Improved customer satisfaction

  • Better anticipation to start projects faster
  • Choice of profiles better adapted to customer needs

v. Benefits of selling

  • Wider choice of profiles to better meet customer needs
  • Speed in producing a quality profile offer to respond to an assignment

b. Establish regular forums

For the management of resource planning to be optimal, it is necessary to be able to conduct arbitrations in group, under the responsibility of the management. The same profile is often adapted for different needs. It is necessary that only one person can ultimately determine on which project to assign these high demand profiles. Companies that effectively manage resource planning meet regularly, often once a week, to review :

  • The projects that will start and the profiles that can be staffed on them
  • Projects that are going off budget and require special monitoring
  • Employees who are underloaded or about to end a contract and need to be repositioned

This type of forum generally brings together the head of operations and his or her main managers and makes it possible to put resource planning at the center of operations.

c. Empower managers to ensure that updates are made regularly

Finally, resource planning must be everyone's business. Each project manager must be involved in updating the workload of the employees working on his or her projects. They are the ones who have the best visibility to foresee the future workload. By making the teams responsible so that updates are made regularly, you benefit from a much more relevant consolidated visibility. Data reporting should not depend on a single planning manager, but should be distributed among the stakeholders. They need to be incentivized to do this update. It should allow them to improve the performance of their project and the satisfaction of their teams, which can contribute to the achievement of their objectives.

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