Managing resources effectively is one of the primary problems confronting project teams. As projects change quickly and required skill sets are diverse, hardware development resource management is even trickier — especially when there are multiple projects. Resource loading, resource leveling as well as just identifying who is available to do the work today is a constant struggle. Here are seven tips for making resource management easier, across teams, and ensure everyone is working on the right work at the right time--accelerating project delivery...
Invest in Visual Management
Working in the dark is for the birds, but that’s effectively what you are doing if you can’t see who is working on what, today. That’s why visual management software is necessary if you are keen to accelerate product delivery. And yes, invest in a tool that not only shows you what your project team is working on, but includes the features that allows them to make correct decisions about what to work on across all of their projects—without having to ask!
Hold a daily stand-up meeting
In a quickly evolving environment like product development, daily stand-up meetings enable team members to identify blockages before they do too much damage to the schedule. They also enable learning from the previous day’s work, and allow resources to be reassigned where required. Your visual management tool should support easy and real-time updates to the plan as things change.
Understand not all tasks are created equal
Understanding resource loading, not just on an hours-per-day basis, but by task type and criticality is important. For example, Jane may be overloaded, but all of her tasks may not be critical. In this scenario, Jane should be able to see which tasks affect the timeline and which ones don’t. This empowers everyone to stay focused on what’s truly critical and ignore the work that won’t affect the project timeline. Which leads us to…
Adopt critical chain project management
When you adopt critical chain project management, you not only have clear visibility to the critical path, but you have aggressive estimates for task durations with intermediate shared buffers that allow for accurate end dates, and easy and meaningful project status tracking. This topic alone is so important that it could be an entire blog post by itself!
Like a traffic jam, overloading project resources just ends up in slowing down the system. We recommend loading resources no more than 70%. If this seems counterintuitive, look at the capacity utilization curve, or think of traffic at rush hour. This approach to resource loading is proven to accelerate project delivery, and create happier teams. In extreme situations it might be necessary to cancel or delay a project, or…
Use a pull systemThere are many advantages of a pull system, but the primary advantage is that it allows everyone to work on correct priorities every time they start a new task. This is always a benefit, but it has an even bigger impact when the resources are overloaded. If your visual management software shows correct priorities, a pull system enables everyone to make correct decisions about what to work on next, even if it’s a low priority project with a high priority task. How cool is that?
Monitor your queues
Queue management is one of the most useful, but also least used, tools for managing project velocity. A queue is the leading indicator of project delays. When you see a queue forming, that resource is falling behind and will eventually cause delays if the queue is not dealt with! Don Reinertsen advocates this as one of the easiest and quickest ways to make system level improvements.
Ultimately the goal of product development is profit, and profits increase when product delivery is accelerated. Effective resource management is critical to your team's success and happiness. Adopt these resource management practices and watch your product development teams thrive!
Want to know the number one cause of project delays? It's not what you think. Watch this 9-minute video to find out.