How to Optimize Resource Utilization for Global Project Management
Posted by Alberto Chiang
One of the biggest challenges for professional services organizations is to allocate people with the right skills, to the project where those skills are needed and have those resources available at the right times. All of these pieces need to be considered while also keeping your team motivated and ensuring staff’s billable time isn’t lost with scheduling gaps or mistakes. What happens when you take all these pieces to a global level? You are faced with multiple cost centers, different countries and time zones. Organizational flexibility and project visibility are key for global project management. As a global project or resource manager, you need 360⁰ project visibility of international staff availability and time zones, global office locations, multiple cost centers and multi-currency billing. How can you be the resource and people planner that effectively tackles global projects with an international team, and at the same time optimize resource utilization?
1. Use automated tools that respond to change - Excel spreadsheets can be an effective way to optimize resource utilization, but only if you have the time to manage it. Using spreadsheets relies on your time to modify them every time something changes, making it time consuming and harder to work efficiently. According to SPI Research, the state of professional services is a rapidly changing environment, so professional services organizations should have an IT infrastructure that can keep up with it. In order to effectively manage global projects and teams, you need automated tools that respond to changing international or local reporting requirements, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, changes in currency, changes in staff availability and multiple time zones.
2. Give your people user-friendly and intuitive tools - It is not enough to only have automated tools that respond to change, you also need to have tools that your people want to use. Having tools with extensive functionality is great but only if your people actually use these tools. Managing a global team means keeping employees motivated but also providing them with the right tools to be successful. You need to provide your team with mobile, social, user-friendly and intuitive tools that require minimal training. Consultants and Project Managers also need to be able to access the system from anywhere, at any time. Do you want your billable staff spending hours entering their time and travel expenses when they can be working on a billable project? Optimize resource utilization by providing your team with tools that they like to use and that reduce time spent in low-value tasks. Innovative technology organizations are already developing “self-driving” systems to automate those tasks. This is a big opportunity to optimize your resources’ time.
3. Understand the implications of change - Changes are inevitable for every project, but are you able to take action immediately? You shouldn’t have to wait for a conflict or change to be communicated to you as it may create other conflicts if you don’t take action right away. Make sure you are aware of the change, automatically and immediately, by a solution that offers suggestions. It should provide you with all the information you need to make a quick decision. Responding to change or solving a conflict gets more complicated when you are dealing with multiple working patterns, competencies or cost centers. Waiting for your HR department to communicate these working patterns delays your actions. Integrated tools give you all the information you need right away to take action. “Integrated business suites (versus best-of-breed solutions that must be integrated) have been built to handle rapid and continual change in PSOs.” – SPI Research, Personnel Performance Planning
4. Identify costs properly when allocating resources - Make sure you can identify costs properly by producing accurate utilization rates. Crude rates that don’t consider time spent on valuable but non-billable tasks can be misleading and problematic when compared to utilization targets. By not considering non-billable tasks, you may maximize your employees without even knowing, to the point that you burn them out. The key is to optimize, not maximize, but you can’t do this without accurate data. Having full visibility to billable and non-billable time can help you gain a sense of your organization’s performance and where changes need to be made. Making decisions based on multi-dimensional analysis is key to optimize resource utilization.
As a Project or Resource Manager, you need 360⁰ visibility of your global project. Make sure you have the right tools to manage this project but also the right tools for your people. If you would like to learn more tips and tactics on how to optimize resource utilization, download the “Become a Utilization Hero” [How to Manual].