Committing to new projects without knowing resource availability is a shot in the dark. People always have varying levels of availability, depending on the demand from other parts of the business. While many business leaders realize it, they don't have a clear picture of their team's schedules and bookings, which leads to resource management being a top challenge for many executives a few years in a row.
Resource planning either gets too rigorous, or is deprioritized from the list of processes to improve. But the truth is, not only do you need to get the necessary resources before taking on a new project, but you don’t want them sitting on the bench either - that costs more money.
Choosing to know the availability of resources is a path to a more robust resource management and a more efficient organization, where neither talent, nor money is wasted. Keep reading this guide if tracking resource availability has been a challenge. In the end, it's easier than you think!
Resource availability refers to the information about what resources you can use to service projects, when, and under what conditions. This information is critical, because on every project, the ability to succeed depends on whether you have access to the essential resources and tools.
Resource availability is often mapped on a resource calendar, also known as a resource heatmap. Here’s an example from Runn, using our demo data:
This was a practical example of being able to monitor resource availability, but why do you need to do that in the first place?
McKinsey talks about resource availability as the matching of resources to priority business projects. By mapping the availability of the resources each project requires, companies can identify gaps and come up with a plan to ensure the right resources are allocated to priority projects at the right times.
Speaking of resource availability, however, we not only mean people's time. Their skills, seniority, time-off, career aspirations should all be part of the discussion before making resource allocation decisions. Staff have weekends off, they may take annual leave, or they may be required for another project. Certain skills are required to complete tasks in a timely manner, and without those skills project managers can face time delays. At the same time, over-qualified staff may come with an extra cost that puts pressure on your budget.
There are a number of benefits of knowing resource availability. For one, tracking resource availability can be a significant factor in empowering the business to scale its operation and get greater returns.
Post-pandemic, organizations delivering products and services have come to a point where they understand that their businesses are built on people. People are their greatest asset and resource that need to be spaced out in a way that is profitable for the business. Tapping into resource availability, businesses can optimize resources and pivot in ways that they didn’t know were possible. Not to mention the clarity resource availability brings to the project planning process.
When assessing the benefits of tracking resource availability, we’ve found a lot of issues that it can prevent:
Tracking resources in general helps to predict resource demand and hire people who won't only commit to project assignments, but will also bring profit to the company.
At first glance, it may seem that the best way to measure resource availability is by asking people what they're doing during their workday. People will give you a range of answers, but the ones that show up most often are "working on my project" and "busy with other things." It's important to understand how these answers can be misleading. The fact that someone is busy doing something else doesn't mean they aren't available to work on your project.
That's where tracking resource availability on an organizational level comes in. After all, everyone needs a single source of truth when it comes to resource bookings, so here’s what we suggest:
Resource heatmaps and calendars are commonly used to track the availability of resources. These are visual charts that come with a resource booking and availability calendar that you can incorporate across your whole organization. It allows all users to see when resources are being used and when they’re available, and to create project plans that you can rely on.
Runn has resource availability charts that are ready to use - they only need to be populated with your organization’s resources and projects. You can better deliver on business priorities without needing to spend hours manually updating spreadsheets.
View how many hours each person has available on any given day with Runn's People Planner. Quickly schedule work for your project team, and instantly see how it affects your budget, revenue and capacity.
A good resource schedule will ensure the right resources are available on time, and in some cases may mean avoiding problems associated with availability. Having the entire resource pool on your screen will take the guesswork out of your operations.
Don’t overlook what role everyone has in the business. Each member of your team has a primary role that corresponds to their job title as defined in their contract, but they can also fill several roles based on their skills and the needs of your project.
Let's say Alison, your project manager, periodically jumps in to assist with regression testing prior to a new software release. Her main role on a project is Project Manager, but you can additionally assign her the Testing role (or any other role) as appropriate.
In addition to roles, you may also want to track availability of teams further down the line. If that’s the case, then make sure these are formed.
It’s not enough to look at everyone’s schedule. You want to go further than that and create transparency into people’s skills to be able to find the right talent for new projects.
Here are some ways you can use tags to segment your people and projects:
Now that you’ve added people with specific roles and tags to the resource heatmap, it’s time to match them to projects. Before project allocations, you need to make sure that you’ve added all the current projects to the pipeline. Only then you can start booking staff and creating assignments.
These four steps will pave your way to understanding the availability of people, roles, and their skills across different locations and make project management a lot easier.
When new projects come in, you can use Runn’s feature ‘Sort by Availability’ to immediately see who is the ‘most available’ at the company.
At a higher, business level, Runn's new availability chart will provide an overview of how many hours any role or project team is available on any given day, considering your current workload. As per Runn's existing capacity and workload chart, the new availability chart allows you to look at availability of your entire organization while also letting you drill into a specific team or role.
The benefits of knowing your resource availability in project management are fairly clear. It’s important to also understand the impact it can have on overall business objectives too.
Businesses in all industries are looking to grow and scale their operations, and initiate many projects with this one goal in mind. By being able to deliver priority projects efficiently and effectively, project managers play a key role in scaling their organizations.
Start a free trial of Runn today to finally get serious about resource availability.
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