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Masooma Memon

How to Get Buy-In for Resource Management

Struggling with how to get buy-in for resource management in your organization? These tried-and-true strategies can help you build a case for investment in resource management.

If you’re struggling with getting buy-in for resource management, you are not alone.

The conversations that we have with experts and practitioners in the resource management space for Runn’s LEAP webinar series confirm that securing leadership buy-in is often a challenge. 

Many business leaders don’t yet fully understand the value of resource management, making it hard to convince them to invest time and money into building this function.

And there’s also the problem of internal, organizational resistance to change. For example, a lot of employees will have reservations about tracking their work time using timesheets or tracking apps, making it challenging for managers to implement a successful resource optimization plan.

So what’s the solution if you want to build consensus around the value of resource management? 

We recommend starting small and securing strategic quick wins to strengthen your case. Here’s how: 

Getting buy-in for resource management: Key takeaways

  • Start small. Instead of shooting for a full program buy-in, prepare a proposal around pressing business issues and get stakeholders on board for a 6-month trial program.
  • Work out a value proposition for the program. Review current business challenges, identify opportunities, and promise to show specific results within the trial period.  
  • Take a bottom-up approach by reframing benefits to individuals’ lenses. This answers the ‘what’s in it for me’ question employees have, helping you get their support for your trial program.
  • Work with a specific team that is struggling resource-wise. Tell them how your program will help them and in what ways you’ll need their cooperation so you can help them.
  • Go after quick wins to maximize the trial program’s results. Review the data you’re already sitting on to drive eye-opening insights around potential business risks and opportunities.

Make the case for a trial program

Since small asks aren’t as easy to turn down as big ones, begin with making the case for a short, trial program to build buy-in.

Now to make a compelling case for this program, start with getting clarity on the program’s benefits.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the value proposition?
  • What can I deliver in a short timeframe — say 6 months’ time?
  • What are some current company goals and issues the business is struggling with?

Further reading: A Value Proposition for Resource Management

Use the information you gather to put together a proposal with particular resource management KPIs to track and report back on.  

The idea is to ask for a short time to show results that will, in turn, help make the case for a longer-term program that requires more substantial buy-in. 

Once your trial program gets the green light, focus on low-hanging fruit to drive the results you promised. At the same time, implement a bottom-up approach as that makes it easier to implement your strategy and get results. 

Let’s show you how to do that in the coming points. 

Build ground-up support for the program

The more fruitful your trial program’s results, the brighter your odds of getting buy-in for more investment in resource management. You want to make sure that your colleagues can clearly see the importance of building resource management as a function in your organization.

Thankfully, a bottom-up approach helps with just this. It gets you support from team members and employees. In turn, reducing resistance to change, letting you implement changes, and drive better results.

An effective way to build ground-up support is to reframe the benefits of the program to explain how they’ll help individuals. 

That is: go beyond the business benefits of your trial program since they won’t resonate with employees. Instead, answer the question most hesitate to ask: what’s in it for me?

First, make sure everyone understands what resource management really is.

Let’s take resistance to time tracking as an example here. Introducing time tracking to teams who have never worked this way before can be a struggle. But having a solid, accurate sense of where everyone’s time is going is crucial information for resource managers. Gary Ward, Director of Global Resource Staffing at Guidewire, notes:

Not everybody likes the idea of time tracking - they think it’s too administrative, or like ‘big brother is watching’. But, to me, from a resource management perspective, if you don't see people's time, you're flying blind. It's as simple as that. 

Because even if you know that your organization is sitting at, say, 85-90% billable utilization, where most people would just say ‘Great, close the book’, you really need to go much further than that [to do effective resource management]. You need to ask what the mix of that utilization looks like across the group. How does the time being entered into the system relate to what activities?

As Gary states, time tracking is essential for optimizing utilization. It lets you identify how utilization looks across the group and what activities take the most time so you devise a blueprint to optimize time expenditure.

But if you were to tell this to individuals, it wouldn’t appeal to them. Instead, reframe the benefits of time tracking. Get them onboard by telling them that time tracking will help you: 

  • Find out who is working more than needed and help reduce the chances of burnout
  • See what everyone is spending time on so you’re in a better position to offer additional resources to help them 
It is really as much about supporting the people themselves, as it is about supporting the business. If you have appropriate time tracking, you're less at risk of someone burning out, for example, because you're in a better position to suggest that additional resources are needed somewhere, says Gary.

➡️ Related: How to Introduce Time Tracking Without Alienating Your Employees

Pilot in a specific department to implement your game plan

Instead of trying to loop in anybody and everybody who’d be interested, target a specific department.

Ideally, pick a team that repeatedly reports they’ve been overworking, or that they don’t have enough people in their team.

Reach out to them, telling them you have the intention to help them with your side project. Then fill them in on the details of what this will look like. For instance, by introducing time tracking to give you data showing the team's work.

Data like this gives you actuals that support the point you want to make for your resource management plan — say, people are overworked.

And if you’re unable to gather the data you need to make your case? Make educated guesses and good assumptions.

To this end, look at the hours of demand in terms of the workload. Then, use good assumptions to explain time expense. For example, in a 40-hour work week, 10% goes to administrative work, 10% goes to coaching, and the like.

Eventually, you’ll start to develop the picture around where you have a resource shortage and why.

That said, keep in mind: you’ll eventually need time tracking — even as you start with assumptions.

Sure there are instances where resource management can be successful without time tracking. But you need the data to fill the gaps in your understanding of what people are working on and how long it actually takes them to complete various tasks to improve resource efficiency.

Identify quick wins

The final step to making your trial program a win is finding low-hanging fruit that’ll get you quick results.

Review what you found when you dug around current business struggles.

Next, determine what data you can get your hands on from the department that’s facing these struggles.  

Analyze the data to find out where there are opportunities and risks. Having these highlights alone can help you make suggestions for improvement — successfully making the business case for investment in resource management.

Let’s take your organization’s skills inventory and talent goals as an example here. If you’re aiming to improve the talent pool, you’ll want to answer questions like:

  • What are our talent goals?
  • What does our current talent mix look like?  
  • Where do we need to cross-train?
  • What are some opportunities here?

Equally critical here is to look at things from individuals’ lens as well. 

What’s the career aspect of this? How do people want to develop? What’s their trajectory?

And don’t forget to factor in the mix of people you have (different levels, juniors and seniors, star performers, and some individual contributors) for an accurate picture.

➡️ Related: How to Perform a Skills Gap Analysis in Your Organization

Another way to get quick wins is to review the data you’re already sitting on.

Case in point: look at the data in your project management system to determine trends, risks, and opportunities, and forecast results.

For example, if you can use data to identify a challenge ahead that no one has spotted yet, this can be a powerful way to drum up support for your work. People will start to look to you for a reliable forecast that can save the organization from upcoming challenges.

For Martha Arias, Senior Director of Resource Management at Jobs for the Future, this is an approach that has worked in the past when trying to establish buy-in for resource management in a new organization:

If you’re able to surface insights as an RM that no one's seen yet - for instance, if we have a resource shortage coming up in three months - you're gonna win a lot of support immediately. The leaders start saying, ‘Wow, they know something that we don't, we should be listening to this.’

Bonus tip: time the insights you drive from the data to make a winning case.

Say you gather end dates of project contracts to give the executive team insights on retaining X% of revenue. Now time it for when the projects are ending to get people to listen to you quickly. 

Build a strong business case to create buy-in for resource management

Remember to start small. Use the buy-in you get for your trial program to prove the real value of a long-term business case. 

And instead of working in a silo, review business goals and current struggles. 

Use what data you have and pilot in specific departments for more data. Then use the insights to highlight upcoming risks and propose solutions. 

Found value in this plan of action? 

Dive into more resources like this one to refine your game plan to secure leadership buy-in for your resource optimization goal:

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