When it comes to productive operations teams, effective resource planning is vital. Without strong resource planning processes in place, team members can become stressed, confused, or overloaded.
In this article, we’re breaking down why careful resource planning is critical for success and exploring how to make the most of the resource planning software you choose for your organization.
How to get the most from resource planning software
Resource planning software is an excellent tool for determining how to efficiently plan and manage resources. However, the following is essential to get the most out of your software:
Choose the right software for your team. If the software you adopt doesn’t meet the needs of your team, you will likely struggle to get the most out of it. Ensure it can scale as needed, track the types of resources you manage, and provide reports that are valuable for decision-making.
Train your team on your resource planning software. Many resource planning tools are quite intuitive, with modern user-interfaces. That doesn’t mean every team member can jump right in and know how to use it. If you want to gain the most value from the tool, time needs to be invested in onboarding and encouraging adoption.
Keep your data up-to-date. What you get out of your software is only as good as what you put into it. If your team doesn’t stay on top of updating their availability and schedules, the reports you rely on won’t show you an accurate picture of events.
Top resource planning tips for operations teams
Resource planning software is not all you need to plan your operations resources. Follow these eight resource planning tips for optimum results:
- Record your resources. Resources can include people, machines, materials, or any other critical assets needed to complete a project. These resources need to be managed in order to ensure they are not overworked. By maintaining a list of scarce resources, you can ensure they are optimized and not over-utilized.
- Create a structure for all of your resource planning. Typically, this involves creating a work breakdown structure (WBS) you can use for each project or initiative. A WBS provides a template that can be repeatedly used to plan new projects. It enables you to break down your initiative into smaller, more manageable portions.
- Define your outputs. What do you need to accomplish and what is required to get it done? Whether you need to produce 100 widgets by the end of the month or create a new groundbreaking prototype, you need to clearly define what your resources have to produce and by when.
- Gather your requirements. Once you have a clear picture of what needs to be produced, it’s time to figure out how to accomplish it. This means documenting which resources you need and when.
- Build in a buffer. It’s part of life that something inevitably goes wrong. Through risk management, you can decrease the likely and potential impact of an issue. But, it’s still best to plan for the unexpected. This may mean increasing your raw material order because you expect scraps and defects. Or assuming your people are only capable of 60–80% utilization instead of 80–100%.
- Create and refine estimates as you go. You should be using your resource software to help you monitor progress and assess how long different tasks take, as well as how much of the resources they take up. As you track actuals, you can update your plans accordingly. By refining your estimates, you can enhance productivity and decrease planning errors.
- Have a standard prioritization process. Inevitably, there will be a conflict over resources. Having a structured approach for prioritizing work and determining which project comes first will make everyone’s lives easier. It will also result in less downtime overall.
- Communicate. Figuring out how to plan resources should never be done in isolation. Every person on your team (and everyone who has a stake in your resources) should be aware of your plan. Share plans around who and what is needed, that way you can avoid inefficient resource allocation. Communicating the prioritization process will also reduce arguments over assets.
How to make resource planning work for everyone
An effective production plan has many substantial benefits. These benefits include reduced labor and inventory costs, optimized equipment usage, increased capacity, and more on-time deliveries. But, none of these benefits will materialize if your plan isn’t properly executed. This means you need a plan that the entire team will embrace.
Here are six pointers for ensuring your resource plan is successfully adopted:
- Plan with your people in mind. No matter your industry or business, people are likely one of your most valuable and limited resources. Emphasizing proper human resource planning makes sure your team is not overworked or idle. When people know they’re not going to be overloaded, they’re more likely to stay motivated and give you their best effort.
- Communicate the benefits of your plan. If everyone understands how the plan benefits not only the company as a whole but also them individually, it will increase adoption. Personal benefits may include being assured you’re never overallocated or knowing your workload weeks in advance.
- Start with a pilot project. When adopting a new method for how to plan resources, it’s advised to start small. Select a shorter time frame and a smaller section of your operations to focus on first. This makes it easier to manage and helps you discover issues before you do a full rollout. It can also create some quick wins and help gain team buy-in.
- Create a gradual rollout. It can be hard for anyone to change overnight. By slowly transitioning to new project resource planning tools and methods, you can give your team some much-needed time to adjust to a new way of life.
- Maintain strong sponsorship. Promoting your resource planning process from the top and acting as a role model can help motivate your team to accept the changes. If they see you embrace the new way of life, they are more likely to do so themselves.
- Remember to be flexible. No plan is ever perfect. It’s essential to keep in mind that, while a plan is necessary, it’s critical to adapt to changes as needed and to learn as you go. Being flexible enough to change the plan and innovate your processes will help your team continually get better.
A solid resource plan can drastically improve the performance of your operations team. By embracing resource planning software, you can become even more efficient and further accelerate your team’s output. Check out how Wrike can help you increase productivity while you focus on strategies for growth — Try it for free today.