Digitising your resource management

Digitising your resource management – why is it so fundamental today?

Whether you are a small and medium-sized enterprise or an industrial powerhouse, the macro challenges of today’s economy have knock-down effects in your micro-environment. If it is pure savings you need, productivity or business resilience, it’s not a bad moment to make your resources go further. 

For the sake of argument, does the resourcing function even need to be digitised?

COVID drove us to digitise, often before many industries were ready to make the shift.  This meant quick uptake from analogue or semi-digital to fully digital systems that functioned at scale and across distance.  These adaptations quickly became the new normal, and our tolerance for analogue systems declined dramatically.  With higher levels of comfort with digital systems, even traditionally analogue processes were adapted.  However, resource management and planning remains stubbornly stuck in legacy ways – trapped on spreadsheets without the flexibility to see how modifications could create operational efficiencies.  

Resource Management is the mainstay of every business.  Regardless of industry, every business requires the fulfilment of tasks within certain timeframes with a finite number of resources. With resourcing being ubiquitous and foundational to company success, leaving the process languishing on spreadsheets is not just a missed opportunity but detrimental to business operations and overall company success.

While that may have been tolerated in better economic times, to remain competitive within most industries now requires a higher degree of operational efficiency and, by extension, a greater level of usability – that is, efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction – in resourcing.  This usability makes businesses more resilient, more flexible and hence capable of rapidly responding to new world changes. Digitisation of your resourcing function is a “must“ to remain competitive and an incredible opportunity to build differential value in your operations and their outcome.

Process enablement via digitisation

Digitisation means understanding digital tools and implementing them in a transformative way. 

If COVID increased the perception of how rapidly resilient, flexible and user-friendly tools were needed, digital transformation is the action of transforming processes to achieve new levels of resilience.

Digital reinvention in resourcing is about managing the multi-type resource portfolio, not single-type scheduling (workforce only). 

The practical reality of the real world we live in is that people get sick, projects get delayed, materials delivery goes wrong, communication is not real-time, machines break, and it happens “dynamically” at any point – not conveniently on Monday morning when we are doing our planning. 

In such a world, only a holistic view of all human, machine, physical location assets and virtual resources can enable us to assign rapidly, easily schedule, adjust promptly, anticipate inter-dependencies, avoid conflicts and misallocations and, in doing so, drastically reduce the run-up of additional costs or face business drag.

Do the top 20 tools out there really leave this need unanswered? 

Yes, it would certainly appear so. We have looked at the top 20 tools, and the focus is on “people only” or “people primarily”. HR primacy tools can sometimes be stretched to serve the purpose of multi-type resourcing, but again they were not designed for it. Everyone in the IT world knows the difference between the ability to “support” a given use case and being “designed for” a given use case.

If other tools on the market can handle multi-type resourcing, then tools are typically very expensive – either in off-the-shelf pricing terms or Total Cost of Ownership. These tools have been designed and optimised for usage in complex industrial environments and carry “old school UIs”. They cannot dial down in complexity expressly because they were not designed for it. Pre-defined and hardwired workflows and convoluted configuration mechanisms are the norm, making them complicated, cumbersome and expensive.

Another option is to extrapolate your resource portfolio to a data-agnostic abstraction layer, like Excel. 

Let’s be clear here; Excel is one of the greatest business tooling “inventions” since it was introduced in 1985. It created the conditions for teams to efficiently manage business and operations and boost productivity. Nearly 40 years later, it is still a valid option for many to manage their operations. 

However, ~40 years later our productivity expectations have drastically changed. Reconciling the planning in Excel is meeting-heavy for management. Half a day is invested, and then a “plan” is set for the week and it becomes a hardcoded entity. But then things dynamically change daily or even hourly – change is constant. Resource dependencies and blockages are not detected ahead of time, costing lost productivity hours. Either the plan is burdensome to update or is not adhered to at all because it is not flexible enough to be modified in real time. 

In addition, Excel’s usability is click-heavy, less intuitive and always non-personalised, meaning full, unconstrained visibility to all rows and columns – “white noise” and fatigue.

To cut a long story short, no matter how skilled one is, the required level of interactivity, visualisation and collaborative capabilities simply cannot be achieved by excel worksheets. 

In summary 

In an economy where operational efficiency is king and adaptability, and versatility are essential requirements, none of the existing resourcing tools are actually that transformative. 

Your resource management tooling needs to be able to handle multi-type resourcing and perform dynamic allocation of resources – planning never stops –and all with a much greater level of usability than the “old school” UIs. It needs to be collaborative – anyone can view any change from anywhere. Set up, training time and learning friction, also, must be close to zero.

The way that resources are planned, assigned, scheduled, and their usage tracked and optimised needs to be drastically reinvented. 

The good news is that such a solution exists. Using digital-age tooling in resourcing comes with opportunities that did not even exist a few years ago. 

This is the first of a multi-part blog series about optimising your resource scheduling. Do watch this space in the coming weeks for more on these topics.

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