Productivity, Project Management

Resource planning: Why you should rethink your efforts

Resource planning is a central part of any project manager’s job. At the most basic level, it’s the process you use to make sure work is delegated appropriately. But for marketing and creative services teams, it can be so much more. When done correctly, resource planning is about optimizing the way you leverage human capital to drive results for your company.

To take your resource planning to the next level, you should consider the process through three distinct lenses: the company view, the tactical view and the ROI view. That is, you need to think about resource planning in terms of what it means for the company as a whole, what it means for your tactical, day-to-day needs, and how it can impact the ROI of your completed projects.

Company view

Taking the “company view” is all about using resource planning to set your department up for long-term success, particularly when it comes to training opportunities and hiring decisions.

Let’s say your team workload reports show that your team is operating at 95% capacity and has been working near that level for the past two months. That may be a clear indicator that it’s time to add headcount. Or, perhaps your status report shows that projects get delayed at the design phase because you have a lot of design needs, but only two designers. Your resource management tool can help pinpoint where the exact need is in your team.

Resource planning tools can also help identify training opportunities. Maybe all of your video projects get delayed because you only have one team member proficient in video editing. If you know other members of your team would be capable of editing video if only they were trained, you can identify ways to help strengthen your team. The key here is to use resource planning and reports to develop big-picture strategies for maximizing your department’s effectiveness, so you can better support the company as a whole.

Of course, central to all of this is having full visibility into your team’s capacity and productivity. Resource management software can help track and segment that data to produce the robust reports you need to make informed decisions. Those same reports will also come in handy when you need to justify your strategy to C-suite personnel to get buy-in on your decisions.

Tactical view

The tactical view of resource planning is probably the one most project managers are familiar with. It’s about figuring out how to best allocate resources to accomplish projects in a given week or month. But that doesn’t mean you just have a bucket of available hours and need to find a way to use them up. Optimal resource planning is about aligning your team’s skillset with the projects at hand.

To do this most effectively, you need resource management software that can show you exactly what team members are working on, what else they have on their plate, and what available capacity they have in the coming days or weeks. That way, you can prioritize your projects and make sure you’re assigning the right people to the right task for the right project.

But all the capacity metrics in the world won’t be any use if your resource planning is missing a key human element. That is, project managers still need to know the individuals on their team, what they’re good at and what they need to succeed. Without that real-life insight into the strengths and weaknesses of team members, you won’t be able to leverage resource planning effectively.

In the end, resource management tools are just that, tools project managers can use to improve their decision making. But by combining cutting-edge technology with tried-and-true methods of managing personnel, you can use resource planning to maximize efficiency and productivity for your team.

ROI view

Demonstrating ROI is notoriously difficult for marketing departments and creative project managers. But under the right circumstances, you can use resource planning to help predict and even enhance ROI for a particular project.

Let’s say your team is tasked with creating a new eBook that will be used as sales enablement material. You can look back at past eBooks you have done to see the revenue they generated and formulate an expected ROI for your new piece. Once you know that, you can then make decisions about how best to allocate resources to that project to maximize ROI.

For example, if the previous eBook was incredibly successful, you can assign your top content writer and designer to the new project, helping to ensure similar results. If the previous project was only marginally successful, perhaps you assign a more junior team member or allocate fewer hours to the overall production process. Essentially, comparing the new project to past ones will help you allocate resources to maximize ROI.

In order for this process to work, you’ll need to have completed similar projects in the past, and you’ll also need to be documenting the role creative assets play in client relations. Your sales team and other stakeholders should make notes and tie creative assets to contracts in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Resource planning is not only a necessary project management process, but it can also provide extraordinary benefits to your company. When approached through the correct lens, you can leverage your resource planning activities to maximize the effectiveness of your team and create better outcomes for your entire organization.

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