Planning holds power in businesses, given its ability to finalize action and lead teams to success without any major element of surprise. A plan with room for flexible manoeuvres is a plan that prevents an organization from falling behind. With the recent recession, hiring freezes and demand drying up, most plans devised in the beginning of 2020 have now come to a grinding halt. When companies with deeper pockets are running into losses, what would small and mid-sized businesses be going through right now?
Most of us who are gainfully employed are now homebodies, thanks to the resurgence of remote working. And it is now more than before that employers turn to dynamic resource planning. As the first step to ensuring different lines of work running parallelly are staffed by the right quantity and type of skills, resource planning aids businesses in thinking about the future from a strategic point of view.
Put simply, business as usual is now rather unusual, with tasks and expectations communicated both synchronously and asynchronously. And cross-functional agile teams have become the new normal of every business.
Considering the increased workload and responsibilities managers are shouldering, now is the time for them to use resource allocation in their endeavours to delegate workforce through the challenges. Here are a few tips to help you turn to dynamic resource planning and allocation methods –
1. Flexible Resource Scheduling
Using conventional tools and spreadsheets? You should know then, that they have their own limitations, which include the inability to provide real-time information regarding task engagements, bookings, and future plans. Here’s what it looks like without a resource scheduler.
As soon as the authorized person makes the change, a certain list of recipients involved in the project team would receive an email. This process of conveying the changes becomes tedious and time consuming, and at times, ineffective when someone fails to check their inbox on time or the sender fails to add a recipient in the list. But with a flexible resource scheduler, booking the skills required for the time-bound activity can be done in a few clicks, and everyone is promptly notified of their schedule.
A responsive resource scheduler gives unmatched visibility and insights across a shared platform. This frees you up to stay on top of your own work and enables others to independently work on their assignments. Additionally, flexibility allows you to request for and allocate resources on the go without getting to the hierarchical communication loop.
2. Workforce Performance Analysis
The transition from working together in a workplace to working from home sees a change of responsibilities, which can be difficult to replicate. Project managers would find it challenging to track performance against effort hours invested. When the distributed tasks are performed by the distant team members, getting updates and follow ups without a dynamic performance analysis facility becomes impossible. You would require a tool that can monitor the workforce performance and brings you information in an easy to understand graphical representation.
Powerful analytics help you understand the status of your workforce, task engagement, and the overall progress of the project. This lets you align your team towards the desired goal while sticking to a measurable pace. Further, performance analytics can help you identify the issues your team members are facing while performing the tasks.
3. Forecast the Outcomes
Every organization has to rely on innovative methods of execution, which is possible because of accurate forecasting. There are performance, financial, utilization, and availability forecasts that can help everyone gauge their efforts while planning. A dynamic resource management tool equipped with powerful forecast features lets you measure your workforce capacity against the demand arising today as well as probably opportunities in the pipeline. With that information, you can optimize employee utilization level by allocating them according to their bandwidth. It can help you reduce bench time by leveraging everyone’s expertise for the unfinished tasks.
Amidst the pandemic, businesses are making tough calls on the workforce due to struggle to retain potential as revenue falls. In this case, a dynamic resource planning system lets you exploit every possibility of reviving the business with the risk analysis option. It lets you predict the excess or shortage of the resources so that you can apply resourcing treatments ahead of time, such as advancing or stretching timelines and freeing up the bench by enabling your staff to reskill or upskill so that they are work-ready when things pick up again.
4. Eliminate Silos
The dynamic resource planning and allocation system fundamentally provides a centralized information repository that remains accessible for authorized users. This eliminates repetitive requests. A flexible resource planning tool functions by uniting everyone in the enterprise on a single platform. Secondly, the tool helps you connect authorized members on a network in order to support the information management throughout the organization.
Silos can help maintain integrity of departments working in an organization but they have serious issues when it comes to timely information sharing. For that reason, project and resource management tools provide the highest level of data security to maintain the integrity and easily overcome information management issues by eliminating silos completely.
5. Remote Team Coordination
Although remote working is reported to boost productivity by 13%, anything in excess is bad. And that’s exactly what remote workers are experiencing now with prolonged lockdowns. Many find themselves putting in longer hours due to the expectation employers set that staff should be available now that they’re home and don’t have to endure long commutes. However, staying at home also means having to juggle personal responsibilities, especially if you’re a working parent or caregiver. In such scenarios, the workforce should be ruled with empathy rather than an iron fist.
A dynamic resource planner can help you recheck availability across time zones and set aside an hour that overlaps between any dispersed team so that you can still have the employees you need for a work-related update. You can make this a recurring event so that employees know to be online and ready for that particular hour. Measures like these help you lead better, prevent communication gaps and clarify expectations while taking your employees’ well-being into account.
6. Support Cross-functional Working
With the loss of revenue, many businesses were forced to lay off their workers. It falls on the remaining employees to shoulder responsibilities and handovers by collaborating with members from other departments i.e. cross-functional working. Moreover, cross-departmental remote teams can suffer worse if they intend to rigidly follow static scheduling and allocation norms without adapting to the unexpected challenges.
Guiding cross department remote teams and achieving the desired results is possible only if you follow dynamic allocation supported by agile principles and change management. In this manner, your workforce can work on a variety of tasks without any setbacks. The takeaway is, start planning today to protect your business and its workforce down the line!
Mahendra Gupta is PMP certified in the smart workforce planning and resource management domain. He is the subject matter expert in resource management and workforce planning at Saviom Software. His experience has enabled multinational businesses around the globe to diversify their project portfolio.