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Optimal Resource Management vs. Using the Gantt Chart

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In a previous blog post, we discussed the importance of Resource Management, even going as far as to call it “the Holy Grail.” This begs the question: if optimal Resource Management is so effective, then why is it not implemented ubiquitously?

To help guide you through the decision of what process to use in your Project and Portfolio Management, we’ve outlined the Pros and Cons of sticking with the status quo of the Gantt Chart versus adopting a more rigorous approach.

The Gantt Chart: Pros

To put it simply, the Gantt Chart is so popular because it is easy. It is essentially just a scheduling tool that builds around deadlines. In fact, the Work Breakdown Structure should already have provided an organizing principle to guide the deliverables and key milestones of the project, so using the Gantt Chart can be as simple as filling in the blanks.

This is a big advantage from a practicality standpoint. It means a low investment in time, cost and skill, which can go toward other areas within your organization.

The Gantt Chart: Cons

Unfortunately, the simplicity of this process requires a sacrifice in credibility. For every assumption that is made to expedite the process, there is the risk that those assumptions may be untrue, which can result in missed scopes.

We cannot always assume that a task that usually takes a week will be done in a week. If we, for example, assign the task to a resource that has several other responsibilities for that week, then a deadline of a week is at risk of being missed. If we assign the task to someone who has less experience, then the deadline is at risk of being missed. And if that particular task is part of the critical path, then this might delay the entire project.

Optimal Resource Management: Pros

In the interest of brevity, we can save the details for optimal resource management for another post, but sufficed to say that there are metrics and processes that allow for Project Managers to have more credibility in their schedule. This avoids the aforementioned risks that are taken when making assumptions about how much effort will be needed to complete a task.

Ultimately, when things don’t get done on time, it’s either because people didn’t show up or because they didn’t show up enough. Optimal Resource Management uses all of the information available to a PM to put the resources in the best possible position to be able to fulfill the tasks assigned to them. And all a manager can do is to bring the horse to the water.

Optimal Resource Management: Cons

It may seem strange to discuss the cons of anything that is deemed “optimal,” but it is important to acknowledge the realities of the situation.

Since an advantage of the Gantt Chart is that it is simple, you can guess that the downside of more rigorous Resource Management is that it necessitates investment. Every factor that a manager requires as an input is just another piece of data that needs to be tracked and analyzed. Project Managers themselves are resources with useful skills, so an organization must decide if their best application is for tracking information that may otherwise be assumed. Adding technology to the mix is yet another investment in cost, in time and in skills, since technology often requires skills that come from outside of the project team.

In short, everyone wants the benefits of Resource Management, but many are unwilling to buy into the investments necessary to achieve it.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it becomes a question of ROI. How much is the added information worth? Is this added level of rigor a valuable use of the Project Manager’s labor? Are the deadlines important enough for the organization to preclude any room for error?

You cannot get the positive benefits on one side of the equation without putting in the appropriate negatives of investment on the other side of the equation, so your organization needs to consider which way the “greater than” sign will point when you put it all together.

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