Effective resource management helps to keep projects on schedule and makes sure that the demand for resources is met as well as maximises the utilisation of resources within the current pool. Without central resource management, there are risks around project slippage that may lead to unprofitability.
Resources for a project in the construction industry can include various elements such as equipment, tools, construction plants, space and facilities, shared files and documents, and human resources. Having real-time centralised visibility of all the resources across all projects ensures that every project manager within the business knows the following:
- what kind of resources are available;
- where the resources are allocated;
- what upskilling staff or upgrade to the equipment is required;
- has the ability to reschedule all the resources if needed.
In this blog, we suggest a scenario that will be used to portray the predictive resource allocation topic.
Imagine you are a business in the construction industry with offices in Manchester, Glasgow and London. The size of your company is about 200 employees across all your branches. Business performance is good, prospective clients’ enquiries are 30% higher, and conversions are 22% higher than normal. So, sales and business development departments are satisfied with these figures.
At first, everything seems fine with this business and its operations, right? But let’s assume there is one problem – the delivery department use a centralised spreadsheet per location for managing projects. The organisation has not invested in a centralised project management software that could be shared and collaborated across all its branches. Therefore, the projects that the sales department is bringing in cannot be delivered on time and budget, and thus, the delivery department is stretched and stressed too.
So how could you solve the issue within the delivery department? This could be done by hiring more people or by working smarter across all your branches where the visibility of your resource allocation across all your projects are centrally accessible by everyone in a format where resource prediction and requests are handled. That would oil the delivery pipeline well and reduce the stress which will make a happier and productive workplace.
Moreover, if the resource allocation of the firm along its 3 branches (Glasgow, Manchester and London) are centrally visible to all the project managers across all locations, even with higher growth of the business (22% in this case), project managers will ensure the following:
- resource availability irrespective of location and resolve conflicts;
- track resource utilisation to avoid excessive resourcing or underutilization
- optimise time, effort, and cost;
- reassign resources in response to demand and circumstance;
- fulfil the skills gap of resources as needed.
Now, using our scenario, let’s assume that you have learnt the hard way and invested in a cloud-based centralised project management software. This software is customised and implemented in the way you run your business. Since the implementation, this software has been in use within the company for four years. It has been very successful, and the organisation mill is running very well – new branches are coming in, the company has expanded to 20% and now is standing at about 240 employees, – the company saw massive growth and revenue increased to 28%. Thus, with the increase of data and resources within the company, the project managers now spend a considerable amount of time within the software to shuffle resources based on skills, utilisation factor and allocation. How do we potentially make this process of resource allocation efficient and smarter? This is where predictive resource allocation comes in.
Predictive Resource Allocation
As per our scenario, the software has been running for four years and has accumulated enough data during the whole lifecycle of projects to track tasks to resources and skillsets. Effective resource allocation is all about getting the right number and mix of people to the right task to be able to deliver a project on time and budget. But imagine if one had a predictive modelling tool that showed, at the click of a button, various dependencies of project tasks and the best-suited resource for the job – the enormous number of man-hours saved! This is what a predictive resource allocation tool would do.
Information and knowledge are key factors towards smart working. A predictive resource allocation model would take big data from weather, traffic, environment, construction site, 3D drawings, smart equipment IoT data, as well as millions of your past data (including mistakes and inefficiencies) to plot resources to project tasks giving a confidence factor of successful delivery. Therefore, having this information for prospective projects makes a smooth running of pipeline projects to resource allocation for the project managers. However, the final decision and judgement still reside with the project managers whether to act on the information that has been provided.
How would predictive resource allocation benefit any organisation?
Mistakes and inefficiencies cost money – project slippage reduces profit margin. With predictive resource allocation, you will be able to investigate your past data, analyse your past mistakes from the information and data you have already collected, and predict the future best scenario for your business. The biggest advantage of predictive analytics implementation is that it does not need significant changes to your business process. For example, due to the inherent complexity and internal capability within an organisation, it is hard (or impossible) to derive a business case around an AI use case. However, the article from Accenture shows a staged approach to calculating ROI on a range of AI use cases. We suggest you take the “Simulate the model” approach for your predictive resource allocation use case.
To conclude, the construction industry has been the slowest in its digitalisation adoption. If you fall under the construction firm with a similar scenario we had here, your immediate priority should be to have a centralised project management system. Besides, make sure this caters for all your subsidiaries and branches, as well as ensure that your workflow processes are implemented in that system along with all resourcing capabilities and their skill set. A good starting point if you are choosing one from the Best Construction Management Software & Tools for 2021. We would recommend once you have data for more than 5 years, you should consider various predictive modelling that would assist you to rectify past mistakes and inefficiencies for higher profit margins starting with predictive resource allocation.