If you’ve ordered furniture this year, there’s a good chance you’re still waiting on it. A significant talent resource shortage in almost every industry is making it more challenging to meet customer expectations. How significant? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a record-high 10.1 million job openings through Q2 2021.
The current state of affairs is especially concerning for industries that rely on continuous innovation to remain competitive; some estimates predict a multi-year talent gap. For innovation-based companies, realistic resource planning has never been more critical. Of course, having the right people in place is much easier said than done, especially regarding innovation.
Let’s say you need to dig 100 holes this week and have a crew of five workers—each person needs to dig four holes per day to meet our goal. If someone’s out sick for a day, four workers need to dig an extra hole that day to stay on schedule. It’s simple math, right?
Unfortunately, innovation resource planning doesn’t boil down to a simple math equation— technology changes, old markets shift, new markets emerge. Just because research for a new product idea took three weeks last year doesn’t mean future rounds of research will require the same amount of time this year. And if you don’t take into account the myriad variables that affect resource planning, mistakes can and do arise. Here’s how to avoid missteps that can further exacerbate the strains of the current talent shortage.
Conduct project resource planning on a macro level
Plan for the rocks, not the sand. Instead of accounting for every single project staffing detail, focus instead on essential needs. I’ve seen companies put rigor around resource estimation based on timesheets and earned value analysis for every proposed member of a team. But in my experience with innovation and new product development, it’s most important to identify and secure a handful of employees who will have the most impact on the product’s success.
Keep talent commitments reasonable
Once you’ve identified the most critical team members, it’s natural to want to secure as much of their time as possible, but this strategy can easily backfire. Chances are, the people you want most are in high demand and committed to multiple projects. As a result, the person most integral to success could be a bottleneck to meeting deadlines because they’re preoccupied with other initiatives. Resource planning technology can help create strategic expectations for getting the right hours with the best talent.
Prioritize flexible team players
As mentioned, it’s impossible to account for how every flap of a butterfly’s wing will impact the entire project, so flexibility is key for both resource planning and management. When rounding out the rest of the team, look for people who excel in multiple areas or those who’ve shown promise to do so. This has been especially true during the pandemic, as employees become suddenly unavailable due to quarantine protocol and others are quickly asked to pick up the slack.
When resource planning, you can detail yourself to death, and doing so doesn’t necessarily reduce significant risk. By focusing on the big picture and making sure your most important puzzle pieces are in place, you can move forward knowing you have the talent necessary to innovate and the flexibility to address unexpected challenges.
Give your project planning and delivery teams the information and tools they need to be successful. With Acclaim Projects by Sopheon, your resource managers can effectively balance resource workload and utilization. Download the brochure to learn more.