Remember back in the early 90s when PC makers built warehouses full of computers, all with the same specs, and waited for people to buy them?
It was a wasteful and risky strategy, and the industry quickly replaced it with just-in-time manufacturing, an idea that was spreading from the Japanese car industry at the time. This lean method doesn’t stockpile inventory. It uses technology to cut time and waste from the process and respond quickly to what the market wants.
What if I were to tell you that you are currently using the same fraught warehousing system – long abandoned by manufacturing – to manage human resources? Most current resource management systems are imprecise and full of waste and risk. You stockpile roles, which often sit idle or work past capacity, so that you have a team that can – roughly – handle what happens.
Changing the way you think about resource management requires a technology that can help you track and visualize work with the granular accuracy of the highly specialized inventory and supply chain systems that transformed manufacturing.
That tool is Moovila Activate.
It gives you precise automation that allows you to capture the white space in the work to better manage your most expensive resource. This major change in the way you manage resources will also solve two enormous and expensive problems.
How to activate smart resource management
Most management teams think of staffing their IT teams, developers, and other departments in terms of role. I need one project manager, three salespeople, two SQL coders, and three support technicians. Given that these are critical, expensive, and difficult to acquire resources, this is shockingly vague. But without a tool that can calculate an enormous number of variables, constantly, this is what people do.
Activate thinks of this resource differently.
Activate connects to your existing projects, CRM data, and the calendars of everyone in all the roles that support your business and provides a central source of truth about who is doing what – well into the future.
Let’s use an example to illustrate the difference between managing roles and managing work.
Managing work the old way
Let’s say that your sales team closed on a major new account. They gave the client a delivery date three months in the future based on a calculation that uses variables determined by what the client orders and their contracted milestones. It doesn’t consider your current staffing situation, other client projects in line before this one, or any other factors.
And that’s why, even though the sales team doesn’t have a better way to calculate this date, it makes you uncomfortable. It’s a rough estimate, with little padding. And there are so many other factors at play.
Also, your production team missed a deadline recently, the development team has been desperately trying to catch up, and you have been unable to hire a developer you need. To add to your worries, some of your people have been working long hours, and you are afraid someone will suddenly quit.
It’s stressful. And your only solution is to go back to that new client and pad that delivery date to allow room for the disasters you fear might be brewing.
Managing the same work, with Activate
You don’t want to pad that estimate. That will delay when you can bill for that work. And the client might pull the job altogether if their income relied on that delivery date. Before you had Moovila Activate, though, that’s what you would have done.
Today, you ask Activate to show you a high-level view of what everyone, in all departments, is doing – right now and three months into the future.
You are not surprised to see that one team member is way over capacity. You know that she – let’s call her Sarah – is reliable, outgoing, and easy to work with. She is also bad at saying when she’s too busy. Activate is showing you clearly that there is no way she can complete the work she has already committed to, especially since she is scheduled for a (much-needed) vacation in three weeks.
Activate also shows you, though, that there are other team members who are working below capacity who have the exact same skills as Sarah. In fact, you can see that one of the under-resourced people – Gregory – will be doing next to nothing in two weeks because of a delay that will happen in another project he’s working on.
With a few clicks, you do some work redistribution. You offload some of Sarah's work to Gregory. And that moves up the delivery date – to on time – for one of the projects she is working on.
Digging further, you find that a third person, Jen, is not only currently under resourced but will have even more time in two weeks when the project you balanced makes its delivery deadline. You pull that person in to cover for Amanda’s vacation.
In just a few minutes, with this sort of bird’s eye clarity drawn from accurate, detailed workload information, you redraw the work assignments for the entire development team, freeing up enough resources to meet the deadline the sales department just promised.
And you did it all without hiring anyone new.
Your panic dissipates.
Along the way, you solved two problems that weren’t causing you to panic today but that were certain to cause a crisis in the future.
1. Faster revenue capture
Fear that you would not be able to meet the deadline for the new project is what had your attention today. But a more accurate window into your resource management would have shown you that wasn’t your only problem.
Several of the projects you already committed to were in danger of missing deadlines for no reason except that one people-pleasing team member is so easy to work with that everyone wants to work with her. Missing those delivery dates affects the company’s revenue capture. And revenue capture affects the accuracy of your forecasts and the solvency of the company. How can you forecast finances if you don’t know when you will get paid? How can you keep paying people without delivering – and billing for – completed products?
You love Sarah, too. But there is no reason that her one weakness – her inability to predict when she will be overworked – should undermine so many high-level business processes. Especially if you have Activate to spot the problem and redistribute the work.
That one overworked team member – and the several underutilized ones – were also a problem in the making. Eventually, Sarah would have found herself unable to work another weekend or skip another vacation without losing her significant other, health, or both. When burnout hits, it is devastating. And it can seem to hit suddenly if you don’t have an eye on the right data. But, with Activate, you can see it coming, even if Sarah can’t. Right sizing her workload and protecting her vacation time, saved you money.
Replacing your best people is insanely expensive.
Those underutilized employees – Gregory and Jen – might not be happy either. They signed on to do work and due to the vagaries of work assignments, they feel unappreciated, overlooked and, probably, bored. Right sizing their workload will keep them from using their down time to look for another job. And you won’t have to pay people for time you can’t bill to a client.
You can only be aware of what you can see. But a disaster you can’t see won’t slow down because you have a blind spot. Plug your data into Activate and start making the transformation to just-in-time resource management. It might be the thing that keeps you ahead of those competitors who are still building warehouses full of human capital.