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Resource Forecasting: 3 Challenges and Solutions

resource forecasting challenges solutions smallDo you lose sleep at night wondering if you have the capacity to handle work coming in or even worse if you have too many people?  As a manager of a professional service firm, managing your human capital is a daily necessity to achieve firm growth and the anticipated performance expected from your employees.  As the market changes, your firm needs information readily available to make quick decisions about acquiring, training, and scheduling your talent.  Many firms rely on resource forecasting tools to handle the management of their employees.  Let’s take a further look at some of the challenges firms have with managing their resources: 

Challenge #1: What are my employees currently doing?  In the past, to see what an employee was working on, managers would go to the desk of their employees to check on the progress of their projects.  However, now resources aren’t always in the same office, state or even country.  Managers are finding they need to easily identify on a daily basis how their employees’ time is being used so they can plan for future work.

Solution - Collect and Measure Time.  As a professional service company – time is what we sell.  Sometimes there is a product that we deliver, but we still internally measure how valuable that product is based upon how much time we have spent creating it.  By capturing an employee’s actual time against a project your firm can now measure that time against what was forecasted to determine the variance. That variance provides you with data to use when projecting future projects.

Challenge #2: How do I match skills with available work?  Some firms are small enough that managers know everyone. However, for a larger firm or as a small firm grows, you don’t necessarily know the skills available within your firm.  Being able to match skills to the work you pursue and win becomes a juggling act.  Not all firms have the critical information available to predict when they need to hire an employee with specific skill sets.

Solution - Identify the Right Resource.  In an ERP, your firm identifies skills, training, role, and experience.  Having this information available allows project managers to identify the right resource based on real-time information.  An integrated solution provides your firm with the ability to search for similar past projects and determine how much experience (time data) they have working on this type of project.  The availability of this employee data allows project managers to make decisions about their collective skills and come up with a plan to increase / diversify their skills needed for the project.

Challenge #3: What predictions can I make about future work?  In order to make a well-informed decision on how to handle the future work, a firm needs historical data.  Without this information, you might as well turn over your resource forecasting to a psychic because your firm is just guessing.  Many firms don’t have the data available to make these decisions.

Solution - Availability.   Project schedules require managing all types of commitments – planned and unplanned. In addition to project commitments, employees take vacation, are on holiday leave, and have internal meetings and activities.  Developing a comprehensive plan for each employee provides accurate resource forecasting to handle future demands.  This helps identify capacity excess or shortage gaps.

The ultimate goal for any project is to end up with a loyal client that will use your firm again.  In order to do that, firms must finish the project on time and on budget.  Choosing a solution that integrates all of these data points allows your firm to report real-time information to make well-informed decisions about resource forecasting needs.  By optimizing your resources, project managers can shorten the decision cycle, increase profitability, and better plan for the future.  

Learn more about Resource Management?  

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