The Focal Point Blog // Resource Management // Team Parallax // January 11, 2023

How To Level-Up Employee Resource Management

Resource management is a fundamental process of every digital services company. It’s the weekly practice where leaders allocate people’s time to projects – and it’s something that can easily feel like a tactical process, but it’s actually one of the most strategic elements of the job. 

We often hear about the stress and annoyance that leaders feel when it comes to resource management — and trust, we get it. We’re also here to help make it better. This guide offers a new lens and provides a different approach to resource management, covering best practices that can help you refine and elevate your strategy so that resource management turns into accurate forecasting for the business. 

Table of Contents:

How does robust agency resource management improve agency performance?

Digital services organizations spend a lot of time on the day-to-day management of resources. It’s all about mapping the right people with the right skill sets to the right projects, again and again. 

When done well, resource management helps services companies increase operational visibility, maintain control and confidence over utilization and productivity targets, and achieve high utilization across all skill sets and roles. Leaders are then able to get off the all-too-common rollercoaster of too much or too little work and too many or too few people available to complete that work — a ride no one wants to be on.

Effectively managing resources requires finding the right cadence and leveraging best practices so that it becomes second nature to everyone involved. Once service companies find that sweet spot, they experience better utilization rates, higher margins, and a happier workforce. It’s that important to get it right. 

How to enhance your agency resource management

Unfortunately, too many services organizations today treat resourcing meetings like a complicated puzzle they’re forced to assemble every week. Leaders tend to focus on the current week, maybe the next, as they allocate hours, which is a short-sighted view that offers little predictability. The result? They have to play a game of chess with their talent just to get through the week, constantly ushering people around to cater to the highest priority that week.

There’s a different way to approach resource management, however — one with far less stress and far more certainty. It requires a small shift in your resource management approach to deliver more confidence, better planning, and improved performance. Here’s one (highly recommended) way to evolve your approach: 

  • Keep holding weekly resource management meetings, but: 
  • Instead of 1-2 weeks out, allocate hours 6-8 weeks out based on the information you have on hand (this is just a starting point), then:  
    • Make small adjustments to the elongated view every week, as needed 
    • Leverage a tool (or an intuitive platform designed specifically for this 😉) to support resourcing like this, and: 
    • Experience easier, more streamlined resource management meetings moving forward

What are the different phases of getting resource management right?

Getting resource management right – to move from tactical resource management to effective resource planning – might feel intimidating; it might even feel like the effort won’t be worth the result. We promise it doesn’t require a big lift to start seeing benefits — and we promise the business outcomes will be notable.  

Remember: good resource planning is crucial to predicting anything else in the business. It’s a plan that can actually emerge as a forecast that impacts all forecasts in the business. To get to this point, there are a few different phases services companies need to navigate.

Remember: good resource planning is crucial to predicting anything else in the business. It’s a plan that can actually emerge as a forecast that impacts all forecasts in the business. To get to this point, there are a few different phases services companies need to navigate.

Phase 1: Gain visibility into the sales pipeline

Shared sales pipeline data is the first phase in enabling better resource management and creating forecasts that can improve business performance. Without visibility into the pipeline, leaders can’t know what’s being sold, whether those opportunities are enough to hit financial and operational targets, and if they have the right people available to do the work. 

Create a best practice around sharing sales pipeline data that’s sitting in the company’s CRM. See how creative content studio Conscious Minds approached this here

Phase 2: Focus on accuracy, not precision 

Leaders need to have some degree of confidence in what the future holds — and they can always make small incremental adjustments along the way. That’s why we recommend allocating 6-8 weeks out instead of 1-2 weeks. (Reminder: the 6-8 weeks view doesn’t need to be precise and will likely change over time. That said, as you practice this consistently, you will get better at it, and it will become more accurate.) 

That’s not the only view that matters, however. Services companies need to ensure sales pipeline information is regularly updated, too, so that their data can provide directionally-correct insights early on and add higher fidelity along the way. Regularly updating CRM data will create accurate forecasts that will improve business performance, making it easier to win good work, serve clients well, and enable communication and collaboration between teams. 

Phase 3: Assess your toolbox  

Are you still working with disparate tools and technologies that force you to manually collect data then plug it into spreadsheets to inform sales forecasting, resource planning, and revenue forecasting? It’s time to step away from clunky systems and spreadsheets and acknowledge that you’ve outgrown homegrown tools and processes. 

When your business scales, you need visibility into real-time data and up-to-date forecasts, and you need it all in one place. We often hear that leaders have the data, but it takes two weeks before they can get at it and, by then, it’s too late to act on. Today’s solutions make real-time data a reality—take a close look at your toolbox, and don’t be afraid to adopt a new platform that can create a shared perspective on performance and operations (hint hint: we’re talking about Parallax 😉). 

Phase 4: Embrace the power of forecasting 

Once data is in one place (thanks to software that allows for real-time resource planning) and habits are adopted to keep data accurate and reliable, services companies will unlock the power of actionable, meaningful forecasts. Leaders can and should forecast against targets and compare their performance against industry benchmarks to help them make smart decisions in support of their business and people.  

Phase 5: Optimize operations, drive results 

Accurate, reliable forecasts not only enable proactive decision-making, but they provide teams with more growth opportunities and ease the stress and anxiety that leaders so often associate with resource management. Without unnecessary noise and pesky headaches of outdated resourcing methods, services companies can focus on continuously optimizing operations and driving results. 

Potential challenges of resource management for services companies

There are various challenges that leaders and their teams need to watch for when it comes to resource management. We all know resourcing can be relatively complex — these are some of the pitfalls to be aware of, especially as you reshape and refine your approach. 

Tasked-based approaches 

Short-sighted management is often exacerbated by a task-based approach, where teams break down projects into tasks and estimate how much time it’ll take to complete each one. This type of approach is difficult to scale, it’s too granular, and it doesn’t account for context-switching. We highly recommend pivoting to a duration-based planning approach.

Attempting perfection 

Many leaders get stuck trying to make every resourcing decision a perfect one (that’s why they tend to focus on 1-2 weeks at a time). But again, if you allocate 6-8 weeks out and plan to make small adjustments on a weekly basis rather than making ALL resource changes and decisions each week, you gain a view into the future of the business and more confidence in where people will spend time. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. 

Surprise increases in demand 

It’s not uncommon for services companies to see surprise spikes in demand, whether an existing client who has an urgent, all-hands-on-deck request or a new client in need of crisis-like help. These surprises can throw a wrench in resourcing plans, but accurate forecasting can help ensure there’s enough people available to do current and upcoming projects. Instead of reactive decisions and leaning on the same go-to people to take on new work, for example, leaders can review utilization and capacity information within their platform to understand who has time to jump on a new project. 

Delayed or inaccurate time entry 

We know time entry is everyone’s favorite task (ha, ha). Almost all services companies experience delays or inaccuracies with timesheets, but it’s critical to get these done consistently and on time. Why? Because timesheets allow you to know how your teams spent their time compared to what you thought they’d do, which is CRUCIAL to adjusting those forward-looking plans. This weekly task isn’t meant to cause stress or fear of putting in too much or too little time (or putting time in the wrong place); it’s meant to inform the resource planning process so leaders can learn and plan better in the future. THAT is what will keep people busy and/or off the bench. Communicating the importance of time entry to employees is therefore critical to successful resource management.

Using resource management tools

Forward-thinking resource planning creates the cornerstone of so many other forecasts. If you know when and where your people are spending time, you’ll know when you’ll earn revenue from that work. If you know how your team is utilized, you’ll know your costs and how much you’ll earn. You’ll know your margins and can focus on hitting those targets in delivery.

With these inputs, leaders are able to make smarter business decisions and can improve performance for the business and the workforce. 

That’s what we do. It’s why we exist. Parallax is a force multiplier for the great tools people use today. We replace the clunky spreadsheets that are used to fill the gaps between the different functions of a services business and instead provide reliable data and actionable insights, all in one place. 

By curating that data with a resource management AND planning engine like Parallax, services companies get a better source of truth on how the business is performing so leaders can make smart and future-looking resourcing decisions based on a shared view of data vs. gut instinct. 

Features to consider when selecting agency resource management software

Just for a moment: consider the cost, time, resources, and implementations that it takes to replace everything in your tech stack versus the quick wins you can achieve simply by integrating your existing toolset with Parallax.

You can avoid that headache with Parallax — we curate a shared perspective with the tools you already use to deliver predictive resourcing and forecasting without forcing significant change upon your teams. 

  • No rip-and-replace: Parallax is a platform that provides the ability to make decisions using data from tools you already have 
  • Greater visibility and predictability: Connect all your current tools to enhance visibility and predictability across important business units and functions 
  • Stronger adoption across your toolset: All-in-one solutions tend to see disappointing adoption — that’s not the case with Parallax 
  • Better insights to inform strategic planning: Seamless orchestration across your toolset improves planning, management, and forecasting 
  • Fewer disruptions to workflows: Teams aren’t bombarded with too much newness; they can continue working in the ways they prefer, with the tools they prefer 

Final thoughts

We know resource management can feel painful. But once your business finds the right cadence and adopts the right practices, processes, and platforms to make it flow smoother and faster, your perspective will change. It’ll be the weekly practice that makes everything else click. You’ll be happier, your teams will thank you, and your business will boom. 

Resource management that turns into quality resource planning results in accurate, confident forecasting. We know it can feel overwhelming now, but we’re here to guide you towards a better way forward. Let’s chat.