Project management
How resource planning unlocks the full potential of your business
by Sturla Røysland
If you are running a lot of projects and have a lot of coworkers to put to work, having a clear concept about what needs to be done and who's available is key to unlocking the full potential of your business. We frequently encounter large offices that have a poor idea about their available resources, resulting in some coworkers constantly being overbooked, while others are underutilized or even worse - put to the wrong tasks. Also, the gaps and inconsistencies in people's workload can lead to unnecessary new hirings and increased overhead.

In this blog post, we'll delve into how you can plan your human resources in a way that keeps everyone happy, including your bottom line.
Sturla Røysland
Customer consultant
Categorizing
The first thing you want to do is to categorize your coworkers based on teams, roles, competencies, and interests. Do some of your coworkers work better together? Is someone highly skillful in a digital tool? Do you have some "hidden managers" you can use to lead projects? Do some coworkers prefer or perform better in one type of work over another? Categorizing will help you to properly utilize each coworker to their fullest potential since you'll have a clearer picture of what people's strengths are. In turn, this leads to higher coworker satisfaction and more work being done in less time.
Putting the right people to the right jobs will increase effectiveness in your office.
Availability
After you've painted a clear picture of who's potentially up to the task, you need to find out who's actually available. Is someone working part-time? Does someone have an upcoming vacation or other forms of absence? Is the person you want to use already booked in a different project? Your resource planning tool should provide you with all this information in a quick and easy way so that you don't accidentally book an unavailable resource. Additionally, having a long term overview of availability can help you to foresee periods of high or low workload, and let you take necessary precautions.
Knowing who's available to take on work can be hard without a proper resource planning tool.
Forecasting
When the team is ready, you can start adding them to the different activities of your project. In this stage, if you've defined the internal cost of each coworker, you will have a clear concept of how much the planned hours will cost your business. This is particularly useful when working with fixed price budgets, where you typically want to use as few hours as possible to maintain a high profit-rate. The same goes for hourly-rate projects that have a budget cap - you want to invoice all the way up to the cap, but not work beyond it and so hurt your profit rate as hours start to become non-billable. If you define both an hourly sales price for each hour, coworker or role, and an internal cost per coworker, you can easily keep track of this.
Unsure prjects and resources
The previous steps are particularly useful when working on live projects with actual coworkers. But, what about offers or projects you're not sure if you'll win? In those cases, you'll want to differentiate them from live projects and possibly plan with just roles instead of actual coworkers. Your resource planning tool should allow you to forecast all your unsure projects and use roles that still have both an internal cost and a sales price per hour. This will let you determine your long term forecast with or without unsure projects and resources. If you are forecasting with actual coworkers, you want a way of telling them that planned hours are "unsure".
Differentiating between live and unsure projects is useful in forecasting your workload.
Letting your people know
After you have planned your project(s), you want the team members to know what they will be working on and exactly how many hours they've been allocated. Linking this with the coworkers' timesheet will make it readily available, and the coworkers themselves can keep track of their hour usage without you having to peer over their shoulders at all times. Of course, many projects will go over budget due to unforeseen circumstances, but when you have a clear concept of how many hours have been used relative to what you planned, you'll also have the flexibility to rearrange bookings or potentially negotiate a higher budget. Transparency is key here, and all project participants should ideally have access to total time usage on the projects they're part of. This helps to keep everyone accountable and in most cases keep hour usage down since you'll be working with a clear limit on available hours. The financial budgets might not be available to every coworker, but the hours should be.
    Summary
    Consistent resource planning will ensure that you utilize every one of your coworkers to their fullest capacity, and turn your office into a super effective and super profitable business. You'll choose the right people for the right jobs, make sure that they're available and let them know exactly what they should be doing when. Additionally, overhead costs will likely sink, since the need to hire new staff will be drastically reduced. The ultimate pay-off is that you'll spend fewer hours getting more work done, fill up people's schedules, keep them happy and avoid overtime and sick leave. All these benefits are available to you with a little bit of planning.
      If you are looking to plan your projects and people in a better and more consistent way, consider signing up for a free 30-day account with Moment.