Effective resource management is a key component of any successful business, but it’s particularly important for teams that deliver client work. Why? Well, when you’re juggling multiple projects at a time and have hard client deadlines to hit, efficient resource management becomes core to what you do.
Want to reap the benefits of increased transparency within your team, maximize efficiency, and also prevent burnout? It starts by getting your resource management problems in check.
We know it can be tough—especially if you're under-resourced or under-staffed—but taking the time to organize, monitor, and optimize the processes within your team will set you up for success in the present and future.
In this post, we’re digging into some of the most prevalent resource management problems we’ve come across and shed some light on how to tackle them head-on.
1. Balancing resources across multiple projects
In an ideal world, we would all work on one project at a time, being able to dedicate all of our time and energy to that project alone. Unfortunately, this isn't usually the case. The reality is that client-facing businesses are often managing multiple projects all at once and must split up their time between different clients and projects.
Easier said than done, right?
Here are a few ways that you can prioritize multiple projects without getting totally bogged down.
Tips for prioritizing your projects:
Keep up to date with the different skill levels, qualifications, capabilities, and capacities available on your team. When you have a bird’s eye view of your resources it can be much easier to choose who and what to allocate for different projects.
Prioritize your projects based on overall business goals and not on short-term wins. When you understand the big picture and keep your business goals front and center it becomes much easier to ensure that your priorities are clear.
Set aside time to identify the projects that are most important and align with your business goals. Once you know what these projects are and how much time will be dedicated to them, you can take a look at the less pressing projects and prioritize from there.
Remember that other work outside of specific projects takes up time, too. Always keep resource capacity in mind and remember to take into account that employees work on other activities besides projects such as day-to-day tasks like onboarding new employees if they are a manager, answering internal emails, and more.
Don't be afraid to say ‘no’. If a request comes in that doesn't fit into your team's priorities and you really don't have the bandwidth to get it done, it can save your team a lot of stress and extra work by simply saying ‘no.’
Try Teamwork’s Workload planner
Our workload planner allows you to manage your team's work in real-time. At a quick glance, you can have instant insight into your entire team's capacity. Learn more about Teamworks workload planner.
2. Lack of resource visibility
A common resource management problem that frequently pops up is a lack of visibility around resource capacity. For teams that deliver client work, your people are your biggest asset, so it's important that you’re utilizing them to their full potential (without burning them out).
If a project manager doesn't have complete visibility into who is available to work on a project and who is at capacity, they will have issues assigning tasks in the most efficient way. When you lack visibility into your resources, it can often mean that you don't know where your team is spending their time, which can be a real problem.
It's important to be able to quickly understand what projects are in progress for each client. Without resource visibility, it will be difficult to stay on top of project progress across milestones and how and where resources should be placed.
Need more visibility? Here are some quick tips you can leverage today.
Tips for increasing resource visibility:
Establish a single source of truth. Do you have too many tools and too many places to look for information? You’re not alone! It’s critical that your entire team works from one tool so that you have a central source of truth. Everyone should log all of the time they spend on projects in one tool—no more chasing down timesheets.
Keep track of progress as you go. Trust us, your future self will thank you! By keeping an accurate record of how long different projects took to complete and what resources were allocated where, you can more easily forecast what’s coming next and what you’ll need from your team in order to get the job done.
Get your team on board. If you want to avoid bottlenecks, it’s important that your teammates are on the same page. Make sure they are updating and tracking their time regularly so that you have clear visibility into individual team members’ availability so you can staff client accounts appropriately.
Check out Teamwork’s Resource Scheduling tool
With Teamwork’s resource scheduler, you'll be able to gain full visibility into your team's capacity and availability, making it super easy to assign the right people to the right projects. To learn more about Teamworks resource scheduling, click here.
3. Setting unrealistic deadlines
Setting unrealistic deadlines can be damaging in more ways than one. Not only does it cause your teammates to feel stressed out and pressured to hit deadlines, but it can also lead to projects not being completed to the highest standard. At the end of the day, rushing a project is never the right way forward.
Why are these unattainable deadlines so often set? It usually starts at the beginning of the planning process. You might take a look at the calendar and set some rough deadlines for when different components of the work need to be completed, but perhaps you forget to bake-in time for rounds of feedback and edits, for example. The next thing you know, your project is weeks off track, which means your team needs to put in extra hours to get the work across the finish line.
Managing your team's workload and ensuring that deadlines are realistic and attainable not only means that your business will be able to hit the goals it set, but it also means that employees will avoid burnout and stress. Amongst agencies in particular, burnout is a common issue that occurs when workloads become so overwhelming so often that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Tips for setting more realistic deadlines:
Set a specific deadline before the actual deadline. Everyone loves a good deadline-before-the-deadline. This is a great way to ensure your work is not only delivered on time, but that it’s up to the standard you set for your clients. Set an internal deadline and an external one when planning out projects.
Use a checklist to ensure all deliverables are accounted for. Remember the example we shared before about forgetting to bake-in time for rounds of feedback? When you set up repeatable checklists for different projects, you can easily duplicate them for future work to ensure you leave no stone unturned. Create one fool-proof checklist with all the deadlines in place and repeat that same process for your next project.
Check on conflicting priorities. Take the time to zoom out—what other big projects are folks working on, and what’s coming next? Consider all of the other priorities you have in place, both internal and external, before setting your deadlines.
Schedule check-ins with your team. As we all know, projects don't always go according to plan no matter how hard you try, and bottlenecks can creep in. Make sure to check in with your team in daily or weekly standup meetings, and access your deadlines in real-time as they come.
Get the big picture with Teamwork’s Portfolio view
Use our Portfolio view to get full visibility into all of the projects your team is working on and where each project stands. This means that you can stay on top of when projects are due, and which clients you’re working on and you'll also have insights into what your teams are working on and what their workload is like. Learn more here.
4. Communication issues leading to resource problems
Raise your hand if you haven’t ever experienced a communication breakdown. Our hands are all down, right? We’ve all played a part in some sort of communication breakdown, whether in our personal or professional lives. Wires get crossed, emails get missed, and with more businesses embracing a hybrid or fully-remote way of working, communication has become even more challenging. It’s becoming increasingly important to ensure your communication is up to snuff with fewer face-to-face interactions happening at work.
Effective communication in the workplace is important for so many reasons. Not only does it strengthen relationships, but it also means that there's less room for error. No one likes to have to tell a client that there was an internal communication issue that led to a lag in a project, or worse, someone, dropping the ball completely on a key deliverable. Teams that communicate effectively are more likely to be on the same page, getting projects finished on budget and on time and driving revenue for the business.
There are a number of ways you can get your communication back on track within your team. Let’s dig into a few of our favorites!
Tips for improving communication across your team:
Invest in project management software. This is truly the best place to start. Having one central tool that allows you to manage all of your work from projects, tasks, and time tracking to budgeting, resource allocation, and utilization ensures that your team is always on the same page.
Be clear with your team. Communication issues can often come down to a lack of clarity in how information is communicated. The answer isn't always to communicate more often, it might simply be to communicate more clearly with the tools your team regularly uses.
Keep the medium of the message in mind. Remember, everyone has a different communication style—and that goes for your team and your clients. Ask your team what works best for them and stick to those channels. When onboarding a new client, make sure you decide on how you will communicate and when.
Get collaborating with Teamwork
Teamwork’s collaboration tools help you to centralize your work, communicate easily with your team, and reduce the complexity of collaboration. We know that different teams like to communicate in different ways, which is why there are multiple ways to communicate across Teamwork, such as messages, chat, notebooks, and files. Learn more about Teamwork’s collaboration tools here.
5. Poor time-tracking
Let's be realistic here, nobody enjoys chasing down their team for their billed time and equally so, nobody likes having to keep track of their billable time if it's difficult to do.
What happens when people don’t track their time appropriately? You guessed it! It leads to a huge resource management problem. People may think they have more time to complete their work than they really do, or on the flip side, someone may not have a full enough plate while one person is completely underwater. This is why tracking your time is so important when delivering client work—if you’re regularly missing deadlines and underperforming for your client, it may simply come down to not having enough time to complete the work.
Understanding how much time is being spent and where is critical to managing your projects and billable hours. Knowing how much time employees have invested into each project also means that you'll have better insight into your team's capacity and will ensure that employees avoid burnout.
This is where implementing a time-tracking system can really make your life a whole lot easier. You won't look back at the old way you used to track time once you get a tool in place!
Tips for improving your team's time-tracking
Explain the value of time-tracking. Make sure everyone on your team understands the importance of time-tracking in relation to your business goals. One obvious value-add is that it makes billing a breeze. When you can generate itemized invoices based on your team’s logged time, you can quickly see how much budget you still have left to spend on any given project. It’s a win-win for resources managers, project managers, and teammates alike.
Communicate billable vs. non-billable hours. Ensure your team is clear about what’s considered billable hours and what’s not. This will prevent confusion across the team and will also help demystify time-tracking, which is a step in the right direction for getting everyone to start doing it.
Choose a time tracking tool that works for your team. And stick to it! One person shouldn’t be tracking their time in a disparate spreadsheet, while another person is using a more sophisticated tool. Get everyone into one tool so you have a cohesive picture of time allocated across the team.
Finding the best way to manage your resources can be tricky so take your time in researching the best solution for your business. Choosing to use a resource management solution, allows you to focus on the important things, like your team and your clients!
Teamwork’s time-tracking feature
Teamwork's time-tracking feature makes it easy to keep track of all time spent on projects across multiple tasks and team members. With our time-tracking feature, you also get accurate insights into how long a project will likely take, allowing you to focus on managing your resources and workload more strategically. Learn more here!
These are by no means the only resource management problems faced by businesses today, but we hope we’ve shared some valuable tips for how to solve these common issues. And at the very least, after reading this post you should rest assured you’re not alone!
Resource management problems crop up in every industry, but as teams that deliver client work, it’s imperative to address these problems so you can build a more efficient, organized, and profitable business.