Every business is under pressure to do more with less. Profitability and growth are not just a matter of selling more and increasing turnover – you need to keep on top of efficiency and productivity, too. Indeed, the world of business is littered with tales of businesses which wastefully threw resources at increasing turnover, only to fatally undermine profitability.
This is what makes resource management an important discipline in the modern workplace. Specifically, it is a sub-discipline of project management focused on the optimisation of resources. These resources might be human, technological or financial, or come in the form of operational assets or business inventory.
There are different ways you can try to get the most from your resources in the context of project management. You can do it by scheduling, which focuses on making sure you have the resources to meet demand, and you can do it by capacity planning, which focuses on making sure your available resources are being used to their full extent as much of the time as possible.
Resource management takes a more holistic approach. In fact, it can be understood as trying to resolve an implicit contradiction between scheduling and capacity approaches. To guarantee always being able to meet demand, the tendency is to increase the mean number of resources available at any one time, or to resource for peak demand. Scheduling is then just a matter of allocating the resources you need at any one time.
But this leads to under-utilization, and therefore inefficiency, when resources are sat idle during slower periods. This in turn also works against the planning objective of having all of your resources working at full capacity all of the time, so you are always getting best value from them.
As an inherently conservative approach, however, capacity planning can lead to one of two undesirable scenarios when new work materialises – either you face a sudden over-utilization of resources, or you have to turn down the work.
Smart, agile approach
Keeping levels of utilization high while also ensuring you can meet demand, even when it goes up, is no easy task. But that is what resource management sets out to do, by taking a smart, agile approach to planning, scheduling and allocation. In brief, it is about doing more with less (or the same amount).
If we consider human resource management and allocating people to different projects, it is about having clear oversight of who is doing what, who can do what, and where to direct those resources to get the best results possible across a range of projects. It is also about getting the most from what people can do – directing skills in the right way, matching objectives to aptitudes, will not only increase efficiency but also increase output.
So the benefits of effective resource management are very attractive to any business seeking to increase their profitability through project work. By focusing on utilization and maximising output from available resources, resource management allows companies to increase turnover without raising costs. In fact, through effective oversight, smart allocation and intelligent forecasting, it should in most cases lead to a reduction in costs, while capacity and performance levels improve.