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Resource Capacity Planning

3 Actionable Recommendations for Professional Services

Drilling down on the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study

The findings from the comprehensive Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study has never before outlined so many clear correlations for professional services organizations as it has in the 2013 report.

For example, chief research analyst, Maureen Carlson, pointed out in her post, New Research for Professional Services, "The top reason professional services organizations are hurting when it comes to resource management and capacity planning is because they lack process maturity." In his article, How to Optimize the Productivity and Profitability of Resources, Planview's Steve Beaumont, followed up by highlighting that customer requests, "talent drain," and management buy-in have been found in the same research to be business-critical.

But What Does It All Mean… To Me?

In the slide cast, below, both Maureen and Steve come together to outline the research as it pertains specifically to project-based organizations and emphasize what they found most interesting from an analytical and practitioner's point of view.

The presentation culminates with three recommendations that were easy for the both of them to agree upon.

To learn more, and perhaps, make your own conclusions, be sure to download the Professional Services View of the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study here.

New Research for Professional Services

Written by Maureen Carlson, Partner at Appleseed Partners

Maureen Carlson

Improvements in Resource Management Lead to Project Success, Client Delight and Profitability -- What's Not to Like?

Background on the Study

I'm incredibly excited to share the results from a new study that provides key concepts and best practices that can be put to practical use by any professional services organization.

If delighting clients, satisfying employees and ensuring profitability of projects sound difficult to surmise, it may be that your organization is feeling similar pain points to the more than 60% of professional service organizations who are in a low- to mid-level maturity levels in how they manage capacity planning and resource management. As part of the study, conducted in late 2012, over 600 participants were asked to rank their maturity in these disciplines in terms of people, process, and technology. The research indicates professional services organizations see tremendous room for improvement as well as a direct business impact of addressing, or not addressing these areas.

Perhaps there is no other business area in which resource management and capacity planning is more crucial than in professional services. This industry is where the core business is people and the name of the game is aligning those people to the right client projects, at the right time. The research tells us that within these project-based organizations, there is strong recognition of the challenges and the need for growth -- but that they appear to be stymied in terms of what to start on and when to do it, given that they often operate in an urgent, client-facing environment that can make focusing on the foundation of the business challenging.


According to the research available in the report, Professional Services: How to Optimize the Productivity and Profitability of Resources, some key findings are prevalent at a high level:

  • Pain: Poor visibility into resource availability and demand is creating challenges in maintaining an effective engagement pipeline in the face of constant change.
  • Business risk: Resource mis-utilization and excessive attrition impacts margin and revenue; delivery issues, customer dissatisfaction, and market share loss
  • Opportunity: Improve processes and leverage the right software to increase resource management and capacity planning maturity. This can support goals such as maintaining low turnover, driving higher bill rates, streamlining resource assignment, and ensuring project success for customer satisfaction.

Pertaining to visibility, the report finds that more than 30% of organizations have a limited view into capacity and demand with no enterprise software in place. Furthermore, for those organizations that had implemented enterprise software, only 11% and 14% indicated visibility remained an issue. Combine lack of visibility with the typical daily tasks of a professional services manager (strategic and tactical) it is easy to see why making decisions based on inaccurate data (in spreadsheets) can lead to the business risks identified by participants.

While enterprise software empirically improves visibility and reduces business risks, the top reason professional services organizations are hurting when it comes to resource management and capacity planning is because they lack process maturity (45%). It is positive that this issue is recognized, what remains to be seen, is if organizations will choose to address it -- and be empowered to.

Thus, improvements in capacity planning and resource management require three things as identified by more mature organizations participants:

  • Sharing the business implications of maintaining the status quo with executives and gaining their support to embrace change.
  • Implementing new processes intentionally and across the organization.
  • Adopting the right enterprise software (consistently across the organization) and using it to its potential.

There is a treasure-trove of data and information in the professional services research report to help your organization benchmark where you are today and how to create a path to optimize resource productivity for improved revenue, market share, and satisfied customers. Learn more about the six characteristics of mature organizations and get the top three recommendations from the final report.

I'd like to hear from you, what are some of your organizations best practices when it comes to effectively resource management and capacity planning? Share by leaving a comment below.

Are Your Limited Resources Focused on the Right Opportunities? [Infographic]

Revealing the Global State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning in a New Benchmark Study

Unfortunately, many organizations can't answer the question in the title of my blog post. Can you?

This is an ideal time and opportunity to benchmark your organization's capabilities and maturity level in terms of resource management and capacity planning. I've had the pleasure to be the chief researcher on the most comprehensive study ever on resource management and capacity planning at complex, global organizations. With more than 600 participants from more than 17 countries, we've identified the state of their organization through the lens of a maturity model, designed for specifically for this research (2013).

2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study InfographicAnd what did we find?

Many organizations are continuing to operate in a state of chaos or limited visibility into what their resources are working on today and what they are available to do tomorrow. A third of organizations have achieved some level of visibility but have to continue to significantly improve productivity; and a third of organizations have made good, steady progress to truly gaining control and optimizing their resources. It is this top third, or even the top 5% of truly optimized organizations, that have some very interesting characteristics and best practices that all organizations could follow to intentionally move up the maturity spectrum (2013).

Here is a brief look at some of the findings of the study (2013). Get your copy of the Resource Management and Capacity Benchmark Study today.

  • 80% of organizations are using shared resources and often in multi-country, dispersed locations to deliver projects, products, and services.
  • The top business risks are "lost productivity" and "remaining in crisis mode." The risk of remaining in crisis mode reduces by half or more as organizations move up the maturity spectrum. "Delayed time to market" is also a key risk of not addressing these areas.
  • The top pain point is "constant change," followed by "not enough visibility into capacity," and "ineffective demand prioritization." Lower maturity organizations have less insight into demand making project prioritization challenging.
  • Two-thirds of organizations are in low to mid-tier maturity brackets.

Software is used by mature organizations; lower maturity organizations tend to rely upon spreadsheets and basic project.

The study warns if organizations do not get control of their resource management and capacity planning challenges they risk lost productivity, not leveraging resources for high-value projects, losing time to market and basing decisions on bad data (2013).

This is just a glimpse into the findings of the study. The report provides a deeper look into the characteristics and best practices of higher maturity organizations. There are a host of tangible recommendations to intentionally address these areas more proactively. In the words of one of the participants, the best way to improve is to "just do it", start small, and find pockets of success and then continue to address these critical areas of resource management and capacity planning. The research shows that organizations that have graduated from chaos into control are addressing much more strategic, competitive business decisions versus wondering (or hoping) that their precious resources are working on the highest priority opportunities.

I'd like to hear from you. How do you ensure your resources are working on the right work? Post a comment or ask me a question pertaining to the research by leaving a comment below.

Carlson, M. (2013). Resource Management Capacity Planning Benchmark Study. Planview.

The Top 5 Priorities for Your PMO in 2013

On January 28th, ProjectsAtWork featured an article by Jerry Manas titled, Were the Mayans Right About Your PMO? In it he covers the 5 key things you need to worry about concerning the fate of your PMO ‒‒ a list of undeniable trends and predictions for the coming year.

The article follows the End of the World Webcast Jerry hosted where he dropped some ancient Mayan knowledge that dispelled all of the "end of the world" myths that were floating around, but also brought to light a startling statistic that indicates that your PMO could face its demise if you don't make these 5 key points a priority in 2013. Did you know that 75% of PMO's are dissolved within the first 3 years of starting?1

In the article, Jerry leverages the doomsday theme as a background to drive the point home that in order for your PMO to avoid becoming a statistic in this New Year it needs to address the following:

Top 5 Priorities for Your PMO in 2013
  1. Floods (Resource Management)
  2. Blindness (Predictive Analytics)
  3. Risky Adventures (Innovation Projects)
  4. Crevices (Portfolio Management)
  5. Beasts (Understand Agile)

Here's a look at the article:

"In December, I presented a webinar dispelling the numerous myths about the Mayan end-of-the world predictions, not the least of which is the fact that the circular sun stone tablet referred to in 95% of the websites predicting doomsday is in fact Aztec, not Mayan. But I did, however, share the more realistic doom and gloom cautionary messages for PMOs in 2013 ‒‒ specifically five things to worry about, all undeniable trends that have been heading our way like a freight train with faulty brakes…"

Continue reading the full article by logging into the ProjectsAtWork site.

What are some of your PMO's priorities for 2013? Share by leaving a comment below.

1Margo Visitacion, "PMOs: Stop Being the Office of 'No,'" Forrester Research, Inc., Nov. 11, 2011

Optimizing Your Resources: Learn from the Military

Now more than ever, organizations are asked to do more with less. Pressures mount, competition is building, and there seems to never be enough resources to tackle what needs to be done. Then, when resources are finally allocated to strategic work, the work ends up getting delayed because the people are pulled off on emergencies, managers' pet projects, and other interruptions.

10 Proven Military Strategies for Better Resource Management: Avoiding Custer's Last StandThe industrial age only took root in the 19th century, and the formal organizational structures we know and love didn't begin until the 20th century. And resource management hasn't evolved much since then except for matrix reporting and project-based work, which are fairly recent concepts.

But there is a place we can turn to for advice. Military strategy has been around for thousands of years, at least as far back as Sun Tzu (500 BC), and through the ages of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Napoleon, and on to the present day ‒‒ each commander learning from and building upon the principles that came before.

Many of these principles deal with the effective use of limited resources. Business leaders can look to these principles to solve what is arguably their #1 problem: resource constraints.

From Sun Tzu's 13 principles to Napoleon's 115 maxims, to the countless other strategies, there are hidden gems of resource management advice that is as relevant today as they were back then.

Complexity theory states that complex systems have simple roots. In line with this, Sun Tzu said:

"There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted."

It is the same with strategies and tactics; a select few principles can be used in countless combinations and variations.

Napoleon knew this all too well and is often cited as the greatest military strategist in history, despite his notable losses at Waterloo and Russia. His principles gave birth to many of today's most commonly used military strategies.

There are countless other military principles that apply to resource management as well. In looking through them, and in the spirit of Sun Tzu's simplicity, I've narrowed thousands of years of principles and maxims down to what I feel are the ten core strategies directly applicable to resource management that can be used in a multitude of combinations. From "Economy of Force" to "Concentration of Force" to "Divide and Conquer," these strategies, when understood correctly, are powerful ways to optimize your resources. Take a sneak peak in this latest infographic and download my new white paper, 10 Proven Military Strategies for Better Resource Management: Avoiding Custer's Last Stand.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Is your organization struggling with making the most effective use of limited resources across major projects, minor work efforts, and ongoing support and "keep the lights on" work? Once you read the white paper, I'd love to know which strategy(s) you are currently employing, or have decided to try, and which are most useful. Are there other strategies not listed that you've used with success?

P.S. If you haven't yet taken a few minutes to share your experience in the new benchmark study on the State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning, I invite you to do that now.

The survey, which is being conducted by Appleseed Partners and OpenSky Research, and is sponsored by Planview, will remain open until December 10th. We want to hear from you! Participate in the study by clicking here.

Top Six Most Widely Read PMO Resources of the Year

It has been an amazing year in the portfolio management space and it is time to reflect on accomplishments and new goals on the horizon. As the year comes to a close, I'd like to share the most popular PMO resources of 2011. The list covers everything from tips for resource planning and best practices for transforming your PMO to analyst research reports. It's a good set of reference material as you begin planning initiatives for 2012.

Six most widely read PMO resources of 2011:

  1. PDF: Un-Common Sense Resource Planning: 11 Tips -- Now is a great time to abandon the practices that lead to inefficiencies and chaos in resource capacity planning. Most of it is a matter of embracing common sense! With that in mind, here are 11 un-common sense tips that will help you maximize your valuable resources.
  2. PDF: The Capacity Quadrant: 4 Keys to Demystifying Resource Management -- Author Jerry Manas outlines four key areas to address when managing capacity and demand for better staffing and funding decisions, increased productivity, and ultimately higher value.
  3. Video / webcast: The PMO in 2011 - Question Everything, a Conversation with Margo Visitacion of Forrester Research, Inc. -- Thousands registered to participate in a conversation with Margo Visitacion, Vice President, Forrester Research, Inc. and Terry Doerscher as they discussed real-life examples of today's "change agent" PMOs adapting to the constantly evolving landscape in familiar (and not so familiar) parts of their organizations.
  4. PDF: Are You Ready to Transform Your PMO? -- The report written by Margo Visitacion, Vice President, Forrester Research, followed the PMO in 2011 discussion mentioned above. In the report she gives her perspective on today's PMOs and their move away from traditional methods and toward more flexible approaches that adapt to changing delivery models.
  5. PDF: 50 Ways to Lead Your Users: Driving Cultural & Operational Change -- Author Jerry Manas compiled this list of 50 proven, some even unconventional, ways to lead users to a new standard in technology and process in their organizations.
  6. 2011 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis Applications -- Access the report to learn why Gartner says that "Integrated IT portfolio analysis applications help IT managers link their respective non-project-related portfolios and perspectives, while giving them access to a strong set of project portfolio management functions for investment planning, visibility and prioritization."

We want to hear from you. What resources did you find beneficial and why? Did you find a particular subject valuable that did not make the list? Tell us why by posting a comment below.

Happy New Year and I look forward to connecting with you in 2012.

Portfolio Perspectives: Getting the PPM Picture

Welcome to Portfolio Perspectives! I'm excited to present this new blog which will offer insights, thought leadership and points of view on portfolio management and its growing impact across the enterprise. In today's business climate of perpetual change, the discipline of portfolio management is more critical than ever to help you make timely, informed business decisions for your organization.

Innovation, Plan, Success, StrategySo, to start off, let's be clear about what we mean by portfolio management and PPM. Portfolio management is often referred to fondly as PPM, with that first P representing project or program or product. As we've seen portfolio management grow, it's being used for many initiatives that don't start with the letter P -- services, applications, strategies, and more. Since we all like to use three-letter acronyms, you'll see PPM and portfolio management used interchangeably throughout this blog.

Portfolio Perspectives will be the resource for you to stay on top of the latest trends in portfolio management. Portfolio management experts and executives will cover a variety of timely topics including:

  • The state of the PPM market
  • Resource management best practices
  • The transformation of annual planning
  • Analytics & reporting insights, sustainability and much more…

Everyone who shares a passion for the benefits of PPM across the enterprise has a point of view. This blog is a forum for your voice, so when a topic or opinion strikes a chord… share your perspective!