One of the favored truisms of the IT world is the importance of achieving the right mix of people, process and technology. The general assumption is that it takes all three pillars to make an organization hum, yet many companies struggle with effectively managing their revenue generating assets: their people. Too often, companies try to manage their staff resources by relying on a combination of spreadsheets and the knowledge their people have of each other. While this may work fine at a small company, it can quickly devolve into a quagmire without effective software backed by sound processes.
In previous posts, we've made cases for dispensing with the use of spreadsheets to manage staffing resources, and have offered up compelling reasons for deploying a professional services automation solution as a replacement. But as the three pillars hint, trading in spreadsheets for a PSA solution such as NetSuite's OpenAir is not enough.
While turning to a modern, cloud-based technology platform is almost always a good idea, even the most effective PSA system will provide limited value without a solid resource management process behind it. Conversely, a strong resource management process can help a company to tap the full benefits of a product like OpenAir.
Establishing Resource Management Priorities
That said, resource management processes need to be tailored to the organizations they're supporting, and that means organizations serious about establishing a sustainable process need to answer some important questions:
- Will the company be centralizing all staffing decisions with one person, or will those decisions be delegated to a team?
- Will project managers have dedicated resources, or will resources only be available on request?
- Who is involved in the staffing process, and who has authority to schedule resources to work on projects?
The answers to such questions will go a long way toward establishing best practices for managing an organization's resource management requirements. For instance, while one company may want a clearly spelled out approval workflow for resource requests, another may find such a workflow to be too burdensome.
Likewise, those that prefer an implicit approval process may want to consider having project managers make generic requests. By doing so, an organization can eliminate the tendency of project managers to request favored resources, allowing the resource manager to determine the best match.
Oftentimes, decisions about resource management processes reflect where a company is in its development. As a company grows, it becomes increasingly important to delegate staffing decisions. It's simply impossible for one person armed with a spreadsheet to effectively manage upwards of 100 staff resources, while a PSA system backed by a controlled resource management process brings order and efficiency to what otherwise would be an unwieldy situation.
It's that combination of software and process that can help an organization make the best use of its resources and achieve milestones such as rising customer satisfaction, improved employee retention, and a rosier bottom line.
Letting Process Drive Technology
What separates OpenAir from other PSA solutions is NetSuite's innate understanding of this important balance between process and technology. Other solutions force companies to build their resource management processes to accommodate the limitations of the software. With OpenAir, we've taken a different approach by designing the software to be very flexible. In other words, OpenAir wraps itself around an organization's process rather than the other way around.
Along those lines, NetSuite works with OpenAir customers to define their resource management goals and challenges before deploying a solution. Then, if, for example, the resource manager is the gatekeeper for all resource requests, OpenAir has the toolset to support that. Conversely, if the process is more bottoms-up, with individual project managers making staffing decisions, OpenAir can support that, as well.
In fact, one of the advantages of selecting NetSuite OpenAir is the likelihood that an organization will emerge with a much improved resource management process. We find that most organizations, in fact, do have some sort of process in place, albeit with major challenges. Maybe they have several people updating a spreadsheet weekly. Maybe they're informally factoring in things such as a resource's willingness to travel, skill sets, and career goals. Perhaps they've simply failed to document the elements of an ad hoc process.
In cases such as these, customers turn to NetSuite as a trusted advisor. By thinking through what their established practices are, and mapping those to the formalities of a tool like OpenAir, companies often find that an OpenAir deployment enables them to achieve the kind of people/process/technology balance they'd only dreamed about.
Get Ready For Change
Of course, all of this requires change, which isn’t always easy. At NetSuite, we understand that change management is one of the most challenging parts of a PSA solution deployment. We work with customers to ensure open lines of communication, and to address every challenge introduced by change.
Most importantly, we help them achieve the results needed to make the change seem worth it. We know that even though the road to a strong resource management process backed by a PSA solution can be a rocky one, that the ends justify the means.
The unavoidable truth is that the most successful projects are the ones that take into account the interests and strengths of everyone involved. The more seat-of-the-pants spreadsheet approach can't deliver the insight and visibility needed to pair the right resources with the right projects.
By defining the best resource management process for your organization, and pairing it with a robust PSA solution, you'll find that your talent will be more likely to stick around, and your company will be better off for it.
Download the full whitepaper: Eliminate spreadsheets: Optimizing the resource management process.
Read other past articles from Scott Grillo: