Knowledge Exchange is a weekly series of educational articles that we encourage you to share and discuss with your colleagues and network. This month, we’re offering advice for making the most of limited human capital.
Imagine you’ve never baked a cake before. Someone hands you a basket of ingredients, but no recipe, and leaves you to figure it out. Even if you have the highest-quality ingredients available, you won’t necessarily be able to produce a delicious cake — or maybe anything that resembles a cake at all.
The right mix of resources is your business’s ingredient basket. All of the people, tools, technology and other things you need to serve clients must interact in just the right way to produce the desired result: a profitable, efficient operation.
Right now, you may feel like your basket is a bit lopsided, especially in the human capital section. No matter what has led you to working with a lean team, visibility and smart scheduling can help you use what you have as wisely as possible.
We’ll cover four fundamental components you need to track to make the most of your resources.
It may seem obvious that your team has to be available to perform work, but many businesses neglect individual availability tracking. With client work, a simple scheduling oversight can be costly and have a ripple effect on other projects.
When you can compare each team member’s availability to current and upcoming work, it’s easy to predict when resources are going to present a problem. Thus, availability tracking gives you the insurance of a heads-up, enabling you to be proactive rather than reactive — a feat for a lean team.
How to track: If you aren’t already using the Team Scheduling feature in Accelo, use this guide to get started forecasting and assigning tasks. Because you can consider scheduled, external, committed and auto-scheduled work in a single view, the Team Scheduling dashboard is the ultimate hack for project managers.
No matter the size of your team, it’s important to understand exactly what you have at your disposal to get work done. When you’re under-resourced, applying skillsets wisely becomes even more essential. This may also be a good time to learn more about the benefits of transitioning to a skills-based organizational model.
Not only can diligent skill tracking help you properly match people with the tasks they’re most suited for, but it allows you to easily see gaps in your team’s skillsets. If you need to bring on contractors or other third-party help, you’ll know what to look for to perfectly fill those gaps.
How to track: Make full use of skill tagging in Accelo. Once you have skills associated with each of your team members, you’ll be able to filter your Team Scheduling page to see the people, tasks and milestones associated with a particular skill. Learn more about configuring skills in Accelo.
Having a great mix of skills and ample availability is one thing; applying them well is a far greater challenge. Your team’s utilization — particularly billable utilization — can tell the story of how your resources are allocated.
Billable utilization highlights whether you’re making the most of the resources you have. It’s also a core metric for understanding the profitability of your projects and clients, which is key for making solid decisions about your business.
How to track: First, implement granular time tracking using Accelo to ensure you’re properly capturing how your team spends their time. Then, if you have Premium licenses, you’ll have real-time access to vital data via the utilization dashboard.
In resourcing, it’s common for plans to go awry. One employee’s time off or an unexpected timeline extension can put pressure on everyone else — and on your budgets and timelines. That’s the last thing you need if you’re already under-resourced.
Along with setting up detailed workflows, it can help to keep tabs on how tasks are progressing in real time. That way, you’re factoring in changes to team schedules and projects instead of taking a “set it and forget it” approach.
How to track: Start using dynamic scheduling in Accelo to predict start and due dates, reschedule tasks as necessary and evenly distribute workload based on current availability. Your team will be able to see how much time they have remaining, which automatically adjusts when time is logged on the task.
Staying dedicated to resource management could feel tough when your time and human capital are limited. But don’t forget you already have access to the ingredient that will make your recipe turn out every time: smart resourcing technology.
When your team is busiest is not the time to shy away from using the tools you have available. It’s the perfect opportunity to lean on a platform like Accelo even more.
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