SPECIAL SECTION/RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Keys to Effective Personnel Management
October 1, 2009
Most managers know that trying to keep track of employees with various projects and skill levels is a daunting task. Perhaps it is not so bad with two employees, but in an organization with 500, it is simply impossible to keep track of these resources without a little help. Having access to real-time process/resource data can help managers oversee their personnel more effectively in order to maximize success.
Understand Employee Skills and AvailabilityDifferent projects require different skill sets. For example, a project team might require ceramic engineers, sales representatives, plant managers or R&D professionals. Finding the right person to assign to a project or task can be extremely challenging without the right resource management processes in place.
Even when managers understand resource availability, it can change. A manager might enter all of their employees’ vacation schedules in a big spreadsheet, only to find that a week later everyone’s plans have changed. What managers need is real-time access to team member schedules, tasks and available time. This makes assigning people to tasks much easier. The system should also be Web-based, since every member of the team is probably not in one workspace 24 hours a day. In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that spreadsheets do not work very well because they do not allow for global access from various participants (and they also cannot be audited).
Allocate Resources EffectivelyOnce resource schedules and availability are understood, managers are able to allocate them more effectively. For example, a 100-person organization might have five or 10 people who are always overbooked. Everyone wants these people to work on their projects, and every time one of them takes a vacation or gets sick, the organization groans. Conversely, other people are under-utilized.
When a manager has visibility into these trends, he/she can fix the problem. If the system shows that one person is 100% allocated, the manager can see that they should not be assigned to a new project. If another resource is only 70% allocated, on the other hand, the manager knows that they are free to do more work. Often, managers are unaware of these problems without the right data, and it can lead to lost profits from under-allocated personnel as well as the eventual burnout of those who are over-allocated.
Track Time by Project and TaskProjects are executed in order to bring in a positive return on investment (ROI). Managers and executives, however, cannot know if a project was successful or not unless they understand its total cost. The cost of labor is often a major factor in total project cost, so tracking time to projects and tasks is an inescapable requirement for measuring project ROI.
When a manager has five, 10 or 25 people reporting to them, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what each person is working on at all times. Is John wasting time on a project that is not all that important to the department, or the company? Is Mary spending all of her time on something a colleague has asked her to do while neglecting the project she really needs to focus on?
In addition, project time tracking allows managers to address problems much faster. For example, if a manager sees right away that 10% of a project’s allocated budget has been spent and only 5% of the work has been completed, he/she has a fighting chance of recovery. A manager who does not have this information early on will find out much later that their project is drastically over budget.
Identify Staffing GapsBy categorizing staff by skills or function, managers can assign the right people to the right jobs. For example, if an engineer is needed for a certain project, the manager can easily find one with the appropriate skill set who is available for the desired timeframe.
Managers can also use this data to identify staffing gaps. If the system shows that the company’s two engineers are consistently working at over 100% allocation, the manager can begin to determine if it’s time to hire additional engineers.
Know Which Projects to HandleWhen corporate asks if a department can take on a major project and complete it by the end of the month, how should the manager answer? They might agree to the project and then scramble to free up the right people and get them to execute the project by the deadline. Or they might refuse the project, despite the revenue it would bring, because they are unsure whether their people can handle it or not. With the right solution, managers no longer have to guess. They can easily determine which employees with the right skill sets are available and which are not.
Manage for SuccessThe success of a project and, ultimately, a company depends on one’s ability to manage personnel effectively. The larger the organization, the more difficult this becomes without the right system to provide visibility and communication.
Keeping tabs on which employees have been assigned to tasks, how long it should reasonably take them to complete the tasks and how much effort they are making are the three key components to avoiding trouble in the long run. Once managers can easily compile and track that information, they will be better able to execute projects with ease, making their company successful and their customers happy.
For additional information regarding resource management systems, contact Journyx, Inc. at 9011 Mountain Ridge Dr., Ste. 200, Austin, TX 78759; (800) 755-9878 or (512) 834-8888; fax (512) 834-8858; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.journyx.com.