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Friday, 22 June 2007 14:13

Taming the Dragon: A Case for Resource Management Tools

Written by  Inez J. Marino, Aplan Inc.
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Quick!  Plan a meeting with 20 participants, schedule the room--with a projector, send out meeting notices, verify who will be attending, then order sandwiches.   

Argghh!  I can’t think of many things more stressful than trying to fulfill that request. For me that spells an undertaking of mind-numbing proportions.  

Then, do that 20 more times this month, each time for a different project. 

 

Are you done yet? 

If juggling resources is causing heartburn within your organization, and involving inordinate amounts of time and money then read on…

In the world of modern business, with ever-growing needs for collaboration -- to keep stakeholders aligned with missions, priorities, terminology, perspectives, deadlines, etc. these have become commonplace.  But toss in the global aspects, with virtual teaming, multiple worksites, personnel availability, etc.  It’s enough to cause one’s hair to turn prematurely grey!  

But in taking a closer look at the multitude of tasks that regularly require scheduling and coordination, an interesting picture emerges… In addition to meeting planning, there are a wide variety of other business functions in need of master coordination, i.e.: training classes, seminars, school activities, college lectures, athletic events, municipal meetings and activities. In addition to scheduling and coordinating these events, it's important to publicize them for maximum attendance. Thinking of all assets as resources that may need to be manipulated as a result of change in events or conditions can lead to identification of need for significant process changes. 

It’s something we may not often think about: the importance of having the right resource available when it’s needed. However, within every organization there are many types of resources that must be acquired, moved around and matched up with specific tasks and personnel. Such complex business environments require the ability to be highly adaptive to reshuffling the mix to ensure that the right people, equipment and facilities come together at just the right time.  Although most of us don’t spend much time thinking about the logistics of the situation, we certainly take notice when what we need is not available at the moment it’s required!  

Tools like Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes have made great strides in decreasing the level of frustration and difficulty of aligning worker’s calendars.  But who knew that scheduling meetings with people, rooms, equipment and refreshments is really a case for resource management? 

A Case for Master Coordination Tools for Resource Management

The larger challenge in today’s work environment now becomes achieving the right balance between resource supply and project demand. Experiencing scheduling headaches within your organization is symptomatic of a problem and presents an opportunity to improve your workflows, streamline operations and improve performance through process driven routines.  By taking a closer look at all the common tasks that require scheduling, one can gain insight into how streamlining scheduling tasks can actually facilitate your team’s success.  

For a peek into the world of coordinated scheduling, I turned to industry expert, Ann Hamann, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development of PeopleCube. Ann has a far-reaching perspective, with over 25 years in a wide variety of business and IT functions. She has spent her last 2 years at Peoplecube, providing solutions to enable organizations to use their time most effectively! 

Ann points out that with people and stuff that is intermittently either in transit, in the field, and/or disbursed at various locations, scheduling resources is an increasingly sophisticated effort.  To effectively resolve the resource allocation juggling act it becomes necessary to use real time tools to prevent problems such as double booking of personnel and rooms or identify compatible sources for supplying status of resources.  When done properly, utilizing proper real time resource allocation tools, the allocation tasks can be done seamlessly, effortlessly and can happen in a flash! 

If this doesn’t sound like what is happening in your organization, you’re not alone… 

In talking with Ann, I was amazed to learn that much of the world still schedules resources manually or at best with a spreadsheet!  Many organizations rely on a talented administrator to allocate the capacity of their company’s most expensive resources, or give lip service to project management and resource scheduling needs by using the “who’s available now” model.  

Such approaches simply can’t stand the test of time and eventually hamper efforts rather than help to provide a consolidated, accurate view of the many different types of resources required for typical scheduling activities. 

Ann explained that process and resource optimization is about spending the least amount of effort to have the right resources required where and when needed. Effectively using resources is significant for ensuring quality, whether speaking of products or time usage, and allows one the flexibility to react quickly to changing business conditions.  

Static scheduling (the spreadsheet variety) is fine if things don’t change rapidly, but in today’s dynamic environment businesses must be able to accommodate the right resource at just the right time to maximize productivity, minimize rework and costs and avoid bottlenecks. Hence the term "JIT", meaning just-in-time.   

It may seem obvious to say that whenever a resource is occupied, it is unavailable for other requests. But pending items, whether in the que or the pipeline, must wait for the resources to become available before they can be addressed and the task moved along. When a resource is too busy to keep up with all its requests, the overused resource becomes a bottleneck in the flow of activity.  The higher the percentage of time that the resource is occupied, the longer each subsequent operation must wait its turn.  This is true in terms of personnel as well as materials and supplies. 

Ann suggests that many organizations seem to think the only solution is to continually add more resources. The danger in using this strategy is that adding more resources because the ones you have aren’t available, doesn’t always mean that you’re going to get the job done faster or better.  Likewise this approach can significantly increase expenses. 

Effective and appropriately used resource allocation technology can make businesses more responsive to market opportunities and threats, strengthen relationships, improve productivity, and reduce costs.  

A resource management solution should provide a robust view of project details and the resources supporting those projects. It should implement quickly and scale to the needs of the organization. It must be affordable to implement and maintain, and provide the ability to view and manage resources and track their application across the enterprise.   

Use of proper tools can help managers ensure that resources are expended in a way that maximizes client satisfaction while remaining within contracted budgets, allowing a positive return on investment for each project.  

Among the benefits to be gained from usage of a resource allocation tool are:

  • Reduce under-allocated resource time
  • Anticipate scheduling difficulties before they occur
  • Observe usage patterns to improve planning
  • Achieve a balance between resource demand and supply
  • Reduce risk of delays
  • Reduce cost of last minute resources
  • Reduce response times
  • Improve ability to respond to changing business needs
  • Improve ability to respond to inevitable changes and fluctuations
  • Increase processing capacity with fewer resources
  • Improve operating efficiencies and staff effectiveness
  • Optimize existing assets so unnecessary resource additions can be or avoided
  • Rapidly respond to changing business priorities and a growing customer base
  • Deploy needed resources to efficiently meet customer demands faster

 

To respond to increasing expectations with limited resources, organizations of all types must identify and exploit opportunities to increase efficiency and productivity. Optimizing the allocation of resources to maximize revenue and minimize costs is a key operational issue for many firms, especially those in high fixed cost industries. With budgets and project overruns under constant scrutiny, it is crucial to leverage resources to ensure availability of the right resource for the task at hand. By increasing the performance and utilization of assets, investment in additional capacity can be postponed or avoided while simultaneously increasing quality and services delivered.   

 

 


Peoplecube is a Microsoft Gold Partner, technology company offering a suite of Scheduling Products that coordinate and schedule every type of resource an organization or event planner might need.  They support 7,500 small, medium and enterprise customers worldwide.  Most popular usage is in the medical, entertainment, and education industries where more than 2000 colleges and universities currently utilize their products. Popularity is attributed to multi-platform usage where Mac has a large presence. Peoplecube has a variety of products that are integrated to make the coordination and scheduling almost as simple as pressing a button.  Resource Schedule, WebEvent (publishes meetings and events on a public calendar)and Meeting Maker are among their most popular products.

 

 

Read 6363 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 December 2009 22:08
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