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Resource management can make or break your project

14 November 2016

Projects can be complicated, and thus a lot of things can go wrong; from continually changing goal posts to an inexperienced team not being able to achieve the desired result. But one of the most cited reasons for project failure isn’t one that may immediately spring to mind, and that is poor resource management.

The allocation of the right talent, finances and materials should ideally begin well before the project does, and be considered from the beginning to the venture’s completion.

Before the project

Projects are intended to be temporary. This sometimes makes it difficult for businesses to contribute talent. Do you repurpose workers from within the company and further stretch already stretched-thin teams? Or do you hire additional contractors and essentially have members within the team without the same knowledge of your company ethos?

The ‘best solution’ really depends on the company. For larger firms that can afford to move team members around, and may need to assemble task forces for projects more frequently, utilising existing employees is likely better. Companies without the luxury of losing team members for a period of time, who perhaps are even open to adding new employees to their roster if things go well, might fare better with contractors.

During the project

The main goal here is to ensure that your project will have the resources it requires to be successful, without impeding other concurrent business operations. That being said, it’s likely you will run into competition for resources. The key is to not let these inevitable conflicts derail your project completely.

A three-pronged approach can effectively tackle resource competition head on. Firstly, work towards minimising the likelihood of conflicts occurring by clearly outlining resource needs, and attribute clear responsibility to project managers and other stakeholders. This ensures all parties understand the value of resources and manage them correctly.

Secondly, put methods in place to reduce the negative impact felt in the case of resource competition. This is, again, about keeping certain stakeholders accountable for their use of resources. The impact of not sharing resources when needed, holding onto resources too long or expending resources too soon needs to be clearly understood and owned.

Finally, when resource conflict does occur, action procedures that have previously been agreed upon. This may include escalation pathways, communication between conflicting parties, and even third party assistance if a resolution cannot be reached.

It’s incredibly important that all employees within an organisation view project work as a positive influence on the company and, in turn, their roles within it. When projects are undervalued and resented as something that uses much-needed resources for little or no return, that’s when conflicts are more likely to escalate, which are detrimental to the success of your project.

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