Are you looking for ways to improve the IT resource management process? For a good reason – IT projects are believed to be the most challenging to manage, especially when it comes to their resources.
This is explained by the specific character of the domain: a resource manager has to deal with diverse teams that are often siloed or even globally distributed, keep their work on schedule, ensure they meet the customers’ changing demands, and so on.
To make the IT resource management process as effective as possible and bring the team to achieving perfect results, you should be aware of the most significant hurdles on this way and know how to overcome them. That’s what we’re going to figure out in this article.
Specifics of Information Technology Projects
To better understand a resource manager’s work with IT teams, let’s outline the main characteristics of IT projects.
- A lot of changes to the requirements and priorities, which makes it difficult to plan in advance,
- Multiple projects running concurrently and team members working on several projects at the same time,
- Rapidly changing technology, which leads to the need for mid-project upgrades that can affect timelines,
- Distributed teams working on project delivery,
- Inefficient communication between project participants and related issues.
Therefore, an IT resource manager works in a multi-project uncertain environment that is accompanied by lots of changes, and has to make sure that the distributed teams are working on a project as efficiently as possible to meet the customers’ needs. Let’s consider what challenges they usually come across when managing IT resources and ways to address them.
Challenges of IT Resource Management and How to Overcome Them
These are the most significant challenges stemming from the peculiarities of the IT area.
Challenging IT resource planning
Changing requirements and priorities make it impossible to develop long-term project plans. So, the specificity of IT projects requires another approach to resource planning: usually, IT teams work in either Agile framework or its hybrid forms, where the project is divided into 1-2-week sprints and planned accordingly.
Solution: Agile resource planning
Agile resource planning is based on traditional resource planning principles with some adjustments to the methodology. Here are the main stages of this process.
- Define your resources’ capacity.
- Plan sprints in accordance with resource capacity and assign employees to sprints.
- Check if no one is either under- or overallocated.
- Keep track of productivity and resource utilization.
In a multi-project environment typical for IT departments, it often happens that one employee is required for more than one project at the same time. For example, Project A requires 2 developers and Project B requires 1, while there are only two of them in a team. Without proper mechanisms regulating the resource demand and capacity, such a situation will lead to project delays or overworked team members.
Solution: Prioritize projects and tasks
This is the first step to the team’s efficient work. It will help you to determine where to assign an employee and when to start work to deliver maximum value with the existing resource constraints. For less important projects, you can adjust milestones or renegotiate the due dates. When it comes to IT projects, prioritization solves two problems at once: it eliminates resource conflicts and contributes to effective utilization of resources.
Resource management software solutions can make this task much easier. As an example, let’s consider the features of Epicflow, a multi-project resource management tool, that can assist you with prioritization of projects and tasks.
This is your team’s to-do list that has several views: all team members’ tasks, personal task list, and meeting view that is a perfect solution for holding team meetings. What is specific about the Task List feature is that it shows automatically prioritized tasks. These priorities are calculated in accordance with the existing and probable constraints of a multi-project environment based on real-time data analysis and predictive analytics. Therefore, both a resource manager and every team member will be aware of what they should work on first.
This feature allows you to run simulations if you’re not sure what decision to make. For example, in case of any resource conflicts or conflicts between stakeholders, you can allocate resources in a certain way and see how it will affect the project outcomes. In other words, this feature is your assistant in making informed decisions.
Ineffective resource utilization
Work on multiple projects with frequently changing priorities can result in improper resource utilization. IT departments can easily become overwhelmed with numerous tasks and change requests, which results in either bad multitasking or overload. In both cases, resources cannot be utilized effectively and show high efficiency.
Solution: Manage team members’ workload
Effective workload management can significantly improve employees’ productivity. It consists of the following elements:
- realistic scope and time estimates and task prioritization,
- managing changes made to a project’s scope,
- taking into account the team members’ strong and weak points when distributing tasks between them.
Learn more about effective workload management as well as Epicflow features that will help you get better outcomes: 5 Signs That Your Workload Management Process Is Wrong
Lack of enough skilled resources
The IT sphere is characterized by the most rapid progress: new technologies appear faster than people master them. Consequently, IT team members may need to learn and apply some emerging technologies without interrupting their work on a project or do some things for the first time. Of course, it may take more time than it was planned initially, and the possibility of errors in the work delivered rises.
Solution: Facilitate reskilling
As stated by leading tech experts, companies should invest in employees’ reskilling, promote new talent, and reward a continual learning curve. This process is not that quick, but it will allow organizations to have enough skilled people to realize the potential of modern technology to the full.
As for utilization of the latest technology, which can affect the project’s timelines, the most important thing here is to be flexible. For example, to protect a project’s due date, a project manager can establish a time buffer: if a certain task will take longer than it was expected, the whole project will be delivered without delays.
Assigning tasks to members of distributed teams
IT teams often consist of remote workers who may even be globally distributed. This brings in additional challenges:
- you may feel disconnected from the team, have communication issues and misunderstandings, which will make resource allocation process difficult,
- you cannot be sure that the employees utilize their working hours efficiently, as you just can’t see them.
So, leading a remote team towards achieving a common goal may require resource managers and team leaders to double their efforts.
Solution: Centralize your resource management
Resource allocation will be much more convenient and effective if a resource manager has a database at hand with all the information about each employee’s skills and their levels. With such a database, no matter how far the team members are located from one another, all the required information will be kept at one place.
Such a solution is available in the Epicflow system: it has a resource allocation advisor, the Skill Management feature that keeps information about employees’ competence and their capacity. Also, it suggests you a perfectly matching resource for completing a certain task based on their competence level and availability.
If you’d like to try Epicflow as your flexible tool for managing IT resources, you’re welcome to contact us.