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Nora Fleischhut

From Transactional to Strategic Resource Management: What's the Difference?

As part of our LEAP webinar series, we've caught up with Nicole, our COO to discuss how resource management is shifting and how to adopt a strategic approach to it.

Thanks for talking to us today, Nicole. In our webinar "What We've Learned from 1,000 Conversations with Resource Managers," we've concluded that high-performing organizations are shifting from transactional to more strategic resource management. First off, what do we mean by 'transactional' resource management, and why bother moving away from it?

For the longest time, resource management was all about getting projects done. It treated people like mere cogs and wheels in a machine, just focusing on how to use them efficiently. If we look back at where resource management started, back in the industrial age, it's no wonder it's become so transactional. Organizations were designed this way – taking inputs, or resources, and churning out results as output. So, naturally, resourcing was as mechanical as it could be.

If I had to define resource management today, it is really about orchestrating your team in a way that boosts both your business and your workforce. It's about achieving nimbleness, aligning with business values and goals, and fostering growth – both for the company and the individuals within it.

Often, when we're in discussions or contemplating resource management, the question arises: 'Isn't it just scheduling resources?' Sure, that's part of the puzzle – allocating people to projects. But it's truly so much more. From what we've observed, and we'll delve deeper into this, it's been evolving. It's like seeing through a strategic lens. You've got to handle the technical side, sure, but also approach it with a strategic mindset. 

I would say you need to see the forest and the trees when you're doing resource management. 

What is the other side of resource management that is not so mechanical and more strategic, in your opinion?

I believe resource management is not just about maximizing capacity anymore. There's been a significant evolution in how resource management operates, both over time and during our journey with Runn. In recent years, a noticeable shift has occurred within the organizations we collaborate with and engage in conversations with. The focus has transformed considerably from the previous paradigm of merely matching a project's requirements with an available engineer possessing the required skills. Instead, organizations are adopting a more strategic perspective, considering factors beyond sheer skills. Nowadays, it's not just about who has the necessary skills but also about who has the relevant experience and the most relevant skill set.

This transition encompasses several aspects. Over the past two years, we've witnessed an even greater departure from the status quo. While an individual might possess the appropriate skills, there's growing recognition of the value in learning opportunities. We're working towards a resourcing approach that not only accommodates existing skills but also fosters growth and readiness for future endeavors, including upcoming projects.

There's definitely more to work than just maximizing capacity and focusing on delivery. How does this look like in practice? 

Organizations can emphasize personal interests and passions, integrating them into the decision-making process alongside skills. For instance, consider a scenario in a professional services context, where a project involves developing a website for a major guitar manufacturer. While one engineer may excel in technical implementation and Java programming, another who's deeply passionate about playing the guitar might offer a unique perspective that enriches the project's long-term impact.

Lastly, cross-functional skill sharing has gained prominence, enabling expertise from one department to be utilized in another. This practice goes beyond mere distribution; it reflects a comprehensive approach. High-performing organizations are demonstrating an elevated commitment to their people. They delve into individuals' interests, identify developmental pathways, and craft an environment that transforms work hours into exciting and engaging experiences.

So from what I'm hearing, it is about approaching people in a more holistic way, and not just looking at the surface and obvious professional skills, but gaining a deeper understanding of who a person really is and what is underneath the surface that might not be as visible in the professional world all the time. Can you maybe share a little bit about how an organization would look like that is able to do this well?

I'd call it a high-quality or high-performing organization. There's a lot of alignment, everyone is on the same page, working toward clear-cut business goals that everyone's got a handle on. The strategy's laid out plainly, and you can see what's what at every turn. It's not just about the sheer volume of work getting churned out; it's about the real results and the ripple effect they create. Are we nailing the right targets? And if we're not, it's crucial for the business to be nimble enough to switch gears. See, if we're just dead set on being super efficient, we could end up efficiently doing the wrong things. So, the real deal is: does the outcome pack a punch?

I think that’s a great point to end on, Nicole. So I think managing resources in the future will be a lot about getting a better understanding of what people's interests are, what they enjoy doing, and the way they want to grow.

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