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Iryna Viter

The Four Currencies of Resource Management

As organizations are trying to realize their teams' full capacity, they need to pay attention to four things.

Over the past few years, resource management wasn't just rising from the ashes. It has become head of the line for businesses large and small. 

The growing needs to keep costs in check, get better visibility over what people are working on, or retain staff are all calling on business leads to start doing resource management in some shape or form. 

When done right, a discipline like resource management can maximize business efficiency and reveal pockets of excellence necessary for future growth. 

To realize the full promise of resource management, however, we think four pillars need to be in place. 

Together, they form a good framework for understanding and optimizing resource management.

four currencies of resource management

The Time

Time is the bread and butter in the knowledge economy. So much depends on whether people are managing their time intelligently and resource managers have the necessary visibility over how it is spent. “If you don't see people's time, you're flying blind,” says Gary Ward, Director of Global Staffing at Guidewire Software. 

From a resource management perspective, if you don't see people's time, you're flying blind. It's as simple as that. Even if an organization is sitting at an 85-90% billable utilization, most people close the book. But resource managers go much further. What does the mix of that utilization look like across the group? And what's the time being entered into the system, related to what activities? 

It really is as much support for the people themselves as it is for the business. What I mean by that is, with appropriate time tracking, there's less risk of someone burning out, for example. You're in a better position to suggest that additional resources are needed somewhere, and you can assess whether a particular person is consistently sought after for these questions or tasks. It's absolutely necessary. In my view, you can't do without the time entry piece.

At first glance, tracking time - how much we work and on what - might seem like a mere administrative task. 

However, as Christine Robinson, a Resource Management Director turned consultant, elegantly points out in our webinar Resourcing for Success, there's a deeper story unfolding in every hour we account for. 

Rather than a simple tally of time spent, she invites us to see each hour as a building block in the larger structure of the company's goals and health.

When I spoke to one of the team members about logging hours, he seemed to brush it off as just another box to check. We were instructed to update the schedule, and I made sure it was done. But when I asked if he understood the purpose behind logging hours, he simply replied, "To track work hours, right?" I had to delve deeper, linking it to "The Story of an Hour," explaining how each hour contributes to a larger narrative. 

I stressed that it's not just about individual hours but the collective impact they have on organizational performance. This influences decisions affecting everything from meeting objectives to providing opportunities for professional growth like training or attending conferences. It's crucial to understand that these figures reflect the workload necessary for successful operations.

Related: Why Your Business Needs Time Tracking

The Energy

In resource management, time is a default starting point, but obsessing over time tracking alone won't ensure success. While it can help control costs, it doesn't necessarily indicate whether people are engaged.

That’s because how energy is being used, not time, is the fundamental currency of engagement.

According to the most recent Gallup polling, however, only 23% of people around the world are engaged at work. 

A full 59% are not engaged—that is, they “put in the minimum effort required” and are “psychologically disconnected from their employer”—while 18% are highly disengaged and deliberately acting against their organizations’ interests. 

Energy might be hard to put a finger on, but what drives it at work is not that difficult to identify. This is where resource managers can make a huge difference, paying attention to employee preferences

Taking stock of what brings people energy and acting on it, resource managers can help the business to become a lot more resourceful and productive, moving from transactional to strategic resource management at the same time. 

‘‍Often, people ask us “Isn’t resource management just scheduling resources?” says Nicole Tiefensee, co-founder of Runn. ‘And I say “Sure, that's part of the puzzle - allocating people to projects - but strategic resource management is so much more.’

what is resource management?

Work that aligns with people’s own values and goals feels more meaningful to them. This way, organizations can create ground for meaningful work for each individual employee.

Related: What is Meaningful Work & How to Create It

The Skills 

Every employee has a unique set of skills, capabilities, and experiences that they can leverage in their work. So, if your business doesn’t have a systematic approach to identifying and measuring these skills, you’re missing a trick.

Understanding exactly what each team member brings to the table can help identify skill gaps, aid resource managers in matching talent to projects, and much more.

Through the creation of a skills matrix, for example, The Ready, a growing future of work consultancy, ensures that staffing decisions are made based on precise skill matches rather than hierarchical or tenure-based allocations. 

Previously, there was a lack of a systematic approach in announcing roles and matching skills with project requirements. It was a simple dichotomy between project leads and consultants. To address this issue, we introduced a skills leveling initiative using a maturity matrix, enabling a more nuanced skills profile beyond the basic roles. 

Additionally, we refined our workflow by posting roles and job requirements in our internal Slack channel, as determined by project leads or the sales team. This approach preserved the autonomy and agency that are core to our values. - Tabea Soriano, Head of Transformation

A good skills management process is great news for project outcomes because someone with the right skills for a task will do the work well. And they’ll do it in a timely manner because there’s no learning curve to account for. It keeps projects on track and at a high standard.

But it’s also good news for staff satisfaction. By giving people work that uses their skills, you show that you recognize their strengths and value their expertise. And you give that person the chance to shine, making a meaningful contribution with their unique knowledge.

The Relationships

Good resource management will embrace all of the above, great resource management goes further to build strong relationships with everyone involved. Effective management of resources often relies on collaboration, communication, and trust among various stakeholders. 

I’d say the first and the most integral and basic best practice as it relates to resource management is really drilling down to the fundamental, which is that the resources that are being managed are people. 

And so establishing that relationship with the people – that are very talented, that are being aligned in different ways – and really understanding how they are motivated, and what they aspire to, that’s going to be the key to success across the board. – Christine   

For resource managers, it's vital to recognize that work isn't just about managing assets or balancing spreadsheets; it's about people and their needs, hopes, and challenges. Building relationships is at the heart of what resource managers do because it allows them to truly understand and connect with those they serve and collaborate with. 

Watch our recent webinars to hear from more thought leaders in the field:

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