Resource management continues to be a tricky concept for a lot of companies. Problems can spring from all sorts of areas and project teams not only need to look ahead and anticipate where conflicts might exist throughout the entire project lifecycle, they also must be ready to quickly tackle any resource shortages or other issues that do arise.
Inadequate resource management skills can significantly lessen a team’s efficiency and can even put a project’s success in jeopardy. If your organization struggles with recurring resource challenges, consider some of the unexpected ways project teams sometimes complicate their own resource management efforts.
1 – Team members want to expand their skill sets.It’s not uncommon for employees to take on additional responsibilities when they want to gain new skills or expertise. This works well when workloads are coordinated alongside a company-supported mentoring or training program, but the approach can backfire if it’s done at the individual level. Employees can quickly become inundated with too many tasks, some of which they may not be qualified to do. Quality and timelines are both likely to suffer in the long run, and the level of reliable resources available for each project end up being lower than expected.
2 – Team members are afraid to say “no.”Some company cultures are so toxic that employees will agree to any task list or project schedule that’s presented to them. In environments where realistic activity duration estimates receive a lot of pushback, or where bad news is met with ridicule and retaliation instead of a more pragmatic evaluation of the problem, effective resource management is nearly impossible. It’s difficult to accurately gauge resource availability when employees are so fearful of losing their jobs that they won’t mention their workload has become unbearable.
3 – Your company has a history of killing projects half way through.Some organizations launch more projects than they can realistically execute, often because there’s no visibility into how many project commitments are being made at any one time. In other cases, the situation arises when executives aren’t committed to their strategy and they change directions mid-stream. No matter the reason, project staff eventually learn that some portion of their workloads will evaporate. This prompts them to take on more responsibilities than they can handle, or they might approve a schedule that’s unsustainable. It’s a workable strategy until too many projects survive the early stages and suddenly there aren’t enough resources to do everything.
4 – Your project management methodology doesn’t include any accountability.If team members know that nothing will happen if their activities fall behind schedule—or if no one is likely to even know that things are behind because no one tracks progress on a regular basis—then executing tasks on time becomes a very low priority. This is particularly true when employees are swamped with day-to-day activities that are urgent, highly visible, or high priority. If the project tasks assigned to them don’t have the same importance, then the workload associated with the project will be delayed and the earmarked resources will be applied elsewhere.
5 – Your projects are disconnected from each other.Unless your company uses a portfolio methodology to maintain cohesion across its initiatives, there’s a good chance that each project is an island unto itself. Staff and funding are requested and approved with a particular initiative in mind, but no one sees the totality of the issues that can come about when a resource shortage in one project creates ripples across other efforts. These conflicts will continue to put a drag on schedules and budgets until a more holistic view is implemented.