In the hyper-competitive era today, every business is witnessing a paradigm shift. Project-based organizations are no exception as the nature of projects is growing increasingly complex, and so are the processes to manage them. Therefore, it is high time companies switched to more advanced methodologies and manage projects efficiently. And the “agile” methodology is one among them.
As revealed by a study, the agile methodology, predominantly confined to the IT/software development sector earlier, has now expanded and is used in various industries. The reason is that it provides more flexibility and adaptability to follow an iterative approach and achieve the ultimate goal.
However, project skill demands keep changing frequently in an agile environment, making managing resources challenging. Failure to address these dynamic allocations proactively may cause delivery delays, budget overruns, scope creep, sub-par deliverable quality, lowered productivity, and other repercussions.
This article enlists the concept of agile management, best practices to manage resources, and how a resource management solution can help.
So, let’s get started.
What Is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management is an approach that consists of multiple iterations or incremental steps to reach a project’s ultimate goal and ensure its successful delivery. It is used in cases where the project’s course is not predefined as it provides the flexibility to develop short cycles of work.
Contrary to the traditional approach, this approach emphasizes continuous feedback and collaboration to incorporate frequent changes based on business requirements. For instance, one can create a beta version of a software product and add the features at the execution stage as per the stakeholders’ and team’s suggestions using Agile. Scrum is one of the popular agile methodologies used for software development and event planning projects.
Now that the basic concept of agile project management is clear, let’s understand how to manage resources in an agile environment.
- 5 Effective Ways a Scrum Master Can Manage Resources in Agile Project Management
Resources are indispensable for a project’s success. Therefore, it is imperative for a scrum manager to manage the resources working on a project effectively and tap into their maximum potential.
The following are a few ways one can manage agile project resources.
2.1 Estimate and raise agile resource requirements in a staggered manner
The project manager must estimate the resource requirements for the entire project well in advance. Accordingly, they should raise resource requests in a phased manner instead of requesting all resources together.
This resource requisition in a staggered manner prevents unnecessary resources from being allocated to any sprint, thereby preventing billable losses and ensuring their effective utilization. It will also give enough lead time for the resource manager to find the right resources that match the skill demands of each sprint.
2.2 Streamline resource scheduling for each sprint
After the resource requests are fulfilled for a sprint, the project manager must schedule them for different project tasks. They should ensure that no resources are allocated to work beyond their capacity. Further, managers should not assign a junior agile resource to a critical task to prevent burnout, time overruns, poor performance, and other consequences.
Also, allocating niche-skilled and experienced agile resources to basic tasks should be avoided to prevent disengagement, etc. All these measures will help schedule the right resources for the right task of each sprint and secure the project’s fate.
2.3 Track forecast-vs-actual resource utilization in each iteration
Once the resources are allocated to tasks, the manager can monitor how they are utilized. They can use forecast-vs-actual utilization reports to track the actual utilization of resources against the initial estimates and assess their performance.
In case of significant variance, they should determine the reason and take course-corrective actions as appropriate to minimize it. Tracking and minimizing this variance in real-time will help control project costs, avoid schedule overruns, keep the project on track, and deliver it successfully.
2.4 Optimize utilization of each agile resource and manage backlogs
Optimizing the utilization of resources is necessary to maintain a project’s profitability. Therefore, the project manager should regularly monitor and track the utilization of each agile team member working on the project. They should ensure that every resource is optimally utilized and no one is under/overloaded. For instance, if it is found that some resources are overburdened, the manager can implement leveling/smoothing techniques to ease the workload.
Further, the project manager must create a list of all tasks that must be performed within the project. Then, they can keep high-priority tasks in the first sprints, followed by others in the other recurring sprints. It will help them utilize resources appropriately and manage backlogs, ensuring timely delivery.
2.5 Use real-time BI for informed decision-making
The project manager can leverage business intelligence dashboards and reports like utilization, forecast vs. Actual, etc., in real-time and draw accurate insights for better decisions. For instance, managers can first understand the utilization of resources, teams, etc., against the project’s progress. Then, the reports allow managers to monitor the overall resource/team health index and retain the project’s profitability.
Similarly, the forecast vs. actual reports helps find variances in cost, time, utilization, etc. Thus, scrum masters/project managers immensely benefit from these BI insights due to changing requirements in agile project management.
Given the valuable tips to manage an agile team, let’s understand how a resource management tool can contribute.
- How Can Resource Management Software Help Streamline Agile Project Management?
In an agile environment, resource demands keep changing and evolving constantly. Therefore, it is essential for scrum managers to implement a robust resource management solution to cater to these frequently changing demands effectively.
SAVIOMs resource management software provides visibility into pipeline agile project demands, which allows managers to initiate resource requests ahead of time in a phased manner. It also helps maintain an audit trail of resource requests, which prevents power conflicts between two or more project managers for similar-skilled resources. Further, the enterprise-wide visibility into resources’ attributes, such as skills, cost rates, charge-out rates, locations, etc., helps narrow your search for the right resources. This way, the manager can easily identify the “best-fit-best-available” resources for each agile project.
Besides, the tool also provides color-coded utilization heat maps that show different colors for different ranges of utilization percentages. Based on the insights into the team’s utilization, they can take proactive measures to optimize each member’s utilization and enhance their productivity and profitability.
There is no doubt that agile workforce optimization is more complex or trickier when compared to traditional project resource management. However, if done rightly, its advantages outweigh its challenges and benefit both the workforce and the company.
While it helps prevent workforce overload/disengagement and maintain their overall health index, it helps the company ensure successful project delivery and enhance customer satisfaction.
So, what’s your next move to optimize your agile workforce and tap into their maximum potential?