Some say that allocating the right resources is the most important part of successful project management - figuring out the right person for the right activities. However, this is also a very difficult and complex process, especially if there are many projects to be completed and being able to make the right choice will have to depend on a large number of variables.
In a way, it's almost like you're expected to be Merlin. You need to make decisions but you don't quite know how to proceed despite being faced with a chaotic mess of possibilities. You might be tempted to pull out your crystal ball, but don't despair. The solution could be simpler and more intuitive than it would seem. The magic word here: skills.
Role vs Skills
As any project manager knows, there are two basic ways to assign resources to a project. The first is based on the professional role played by each one (role-based allocation). Based on the agreed time, you need to define the generic resources of a project. For this, you'll need certain figures such as, for example, a project manager, two analysts and a graphic designer. Based on their availability and role, you include them in the Gantt chart.
On the other hand, if the selection criteria is based on skills (skill-based allocation), you won't choose people based solely on their own professional role or job title, but according the specific skills they have that are necessary to successfully complete the project. For example, if you need certain graphic works in building an online platform, you may need a developer that also has graphic design skills (this may result in a different choice than the one selected through role-based allocation).
How can we manage this large number of variables linked to the particular skills of each individual employee? Integrated platforms such as NetSuite and others like it, make it possible to build a skills inventory, which catalogues the different skills and knowledge related to each person. Each employee is then associated with their specific skills, languages spoken, their ranking and various other useful criteria to help the the selection process. By performing searches by skill, the system will return, as if by magic, a list of sorted results out of the ones that best meet your needs.
Advantages of Skills-Based Selection
There are several reasons why using a skill inventory is more effective than a system based on simple job titles. First, it overcomes the problem of an uneven distribution of skills across different departments. Today, it's easy to find professionals in a given department (accounting, administrative, IT) who have skills that aren't necessarily used in their traditional role, but may prove to be valuable in other specific projects. Performing a search based on skills can allow you to identify them without the need of a magic wand, even if they are not in departments or in teams where you would look for them normally.
Another advantage is linked to time saved. Searching based on skills allows you to identify faster and more accurately the most suitable choice, without needing to verify that further. Furthermore, if you are using an integrated project management system, the switch from budgeting the project, to allocating general resources, to identifying effective resource usage will be more streamlined and faster.
Think about how you could respond quickly to a customer who needs specific advice. By having a catalog of skills, you can readily identify the most suitable people to satisfy their special requests. Aside from that, you can quickly and easily find the most suitable profiles to use in your technical bids related to tenders.
Another important aspect is training. A clear view of all skilled resources will allow you to highlight where are your strengths and weaknesses. You can then improve your overall skills through training and refresher courses aimed at bridging the gap between job requirements and actual skills.
Finally, customer satisfaction is definitely one of the reasons that would call for this new approach to selecting resources. With skills that are well suited for the project, you'll be sure that the project is carried out more effectively and would result in customer satisfaction.
We have seen how important it is to use a skills inventory. Now, let's see this further applied in the overall project quotation. Download our FREE template: Project Management Proposal and Quotation Template!