Is Resource Management Just About Assigning a Resource to a Project?

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resource management team.pngDo you have a dedicated Resource Management function inside your professional services organization? If so, what are the main tasks, activities, and responsibilities that they perform? The general belief is that resource management is about finding an able and available individual to be assigned to a delivery engagement/project. We at TSIA believe there’s more to it than that.

What Are the Tasks and Activities a Resource Management Team is Responsible For?

We recently incorporated into our Professional Services Benchmark Study questions that capture data on resource management and, importantly, the tasks and activities that the Resource Management team performs. We believe resource management isn’t just about finding and assigning resources to projects, but should also include some core fundamental functions. Here are some of the standard tasks/activities that should be performed by the Resource Management team:

  • Assigning resources to projects (billable and internal)
  • Talent/skills management and support
  • Demand/supply management
  • Subcontractor/third-party vendor management

Since we only recently incorporated this data element into our benchmark study, the sample size isn’t very large, but here’s a view of what we can report to date for the tasks/activities that resource managers (RMs) are performing:

Resource Management Tasks and Activities copy.png

It’s not surprising that “assigning resources” is the majority task/activity that RMs perform.

Let’s break down the core tasks/activities that RMs should also be performing, which can and should impact several metrics for a professional services organization, like utilization and time to source, to name just couple of metrics.

Assigning Resources to Projects

You might think that this is a simple no-brainer, but in reality, many technology companies still struggle with this fundamental resource management task.

The trick is developing a formal, documented process on requesting resources for services engagements, followed by how they will be assigned. This should be well-defined and communicated to your Service Delivery team, and if necessary, to Sales. There should be governance on this so that everyone follows process and thus eliminate any “workarounds” on requesting and assigning resources for projects.

Talent/Skills Management and Support

How do you know which capabilities and skills your delivery resources need to have in order to be assigned to specific projects? Does this information just sit inside a few people’s heads?

Talent/skills management is the process of identifying the skills required to deliver your services offerings, and then assessing the existence of those skills in your services delivery staff. The ability to assess and document the skills of your services delivery staff and those of any subcontractors/third-parties. The RM should have a process that identifies an effective categorization of skills (not too many, not too few), and there should be a regular cadence of when skills are assessed and updated (twice a year at minimum).

This should be captured in a central location, preferably embedded inside of a PSA (professional services automation) to be able to match project resource requirements/requests with the right skilled and available resource.

The forecasting process, irrespective of your companies’ organizational construct, must facilitate the most precise estimate of need, by person and skill, by month, to span the necessary hiring or capacity planning horizon.

Demand/Supply Management

This ties to the above on “talent/skills management and support.” Having a skills inventory of your resources is critical to the demand/supply activity of the Resource Management team.
Forecasting is about knowing what future demand will look like in order to drive investment decisions, both in the long and short-term. This will allow you to determine how many people to hire and when, how much to invest in training, services management, tools, etc.

The forecasting process, irrespective of your companies’ organizational construct, must facilitate the most precise estimate of need, by person and skill, by month, to span the necessary hiring or capacity planning horizon. The process should involve forecasts from management as well as sales forecasts from the field. The process should also allow you to understand how long it takes to actually hire and/or train specific delivery resources or to find subcontractors/third parties that have the capacity/skills.

Do you have insight into services opportunities beyond those projects that are recently signed? Can you effectively anticipate when resourcing and specific skills will impact your ability to execute and deliver?

Subcontractor/Third-Party Vendor Management

If you’re like most members at TSIA, you rely on subcontractors/third-party vendors to be an extension of your service delivery resource pool. This activity for resource management can be varied, especially if you have a separate “channel or partner” organization that manages this core function.

But in general, the Resource Management team should maintain a pool of qualified subcontractors that can be used to augment as needed to fulfill services engagements/projects. The Resource Management team should be assessing and capturing the skills/talents of subcontractors. This activity also can include assisting subcontractors with time and expense entry. Some other tasks in subcontractor management may involve MSA/SOW and negotiating rates. I would also venture to say that Resource Management should develop a process to evaluate subcontractor performance.

Resource Management: Top Takeaways

In conclusion of the tasks and activities of your Resource Management team, it’s not all about finding an able and available individual to be assigned to a signed delivery engagement/project. A well-established, best-in-class Resource Management team/function should all have the standard core tasks/activities listed above:

  • Assigning resources to projects (billable and internal)
  • Talent/skills management and support
  • Demand/supply management
  • Subcontractor/third-party vendor management

Do you have these tasks/activities in your Resource Management function?

About the Author

james-cho.pngJames Cho is the director of professional services research and operational best practices for TSIA. In this role, he is responsible for developing and delivering research programs that are focused on helping TSIA member organizations build and optimize professional services. He is also responsible for leading and delivering operational best practices to member organizations. James has over 20 years of experience in technology, operations, analysis, project management, and consulting, including experience in telecom, hardware, software, and professional services.

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Topics: professional services, resource management, professional services organization (PSO), professional services automation (PSA)

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