The advent of globalization and digitization has enabled organizations to start adopting matrix structures to improve overall work delivery and operational efficiency. However, due to a lack of insights into real-time data, numerous challenges, such as silos of information, skill shortages, last-minute firefighting of competent resources, lowered productivity, disengagement, etc., came into the picture.
This has led to compromised work quality, schedule, budget overruns, and eventually, loss of future opportunities in the industry.
Therefore, organizations need to implement a resource management tool equipped with BI that provides real-time insights into necessary resource metrics and helps make informed decisions. As a result, it will ensure that the company’s most significant asset, its workforce, is optimally utilized to deliver more with less.
This blog emphasizes the benefits of using business intelligence in resource management.
But before that, let’s understand the basics.
Business intelligence in resource management
Business intelligence (BI) is a tool for analyzing data and delivering actionable information that helps executives and managers make informed business decisions. Organizations use this tool to collect data from internal IT systems and external sources, prepare it for analysis, and create data visualizations.
Earlier resource management was limited to basic scheduling and allocation. But, as matrix organization became prevalent, resource management became complex because of multiple units and departments. Hence, it wasn’t possible to manage the workforce using spreadsheets and other homegrown tools, as it created silos of information. Thus, to manage resources efficiently amid the dynamic market conditions, managers needed real-time data and reports for quick and informed decision-making. As a result, business intelligence (BI) became a crucial part of resource management solutions as it provides accurate insights into the resources.
For example- BI provided real-time reports on various resource and project metrics like- forecast planned vs. actual financial, utilization, project vacancy reports, etc., that helped managers track the resource and project progress and ensure smooth delivery of projects. Further, it also prevented double data entries and redundancies in organizations, reducing scheduling conflicts.
Now, let’s understand its significance.
What are the benefits of BI in resource management?
BI in resource management provides a plethora of benefits to organizations.
1. Facilitate data-driven decision making
Lack of data-driven decisions can create potential bottlenecks like the inability to identify resource shortages and skill gaps in advance in the organization. This can adversely affect the project quality and also lead to schedule and budget overruns. With BI-enabled resource management software, managers can get accurate insights into various resource and project metrics such as availability, capacity vs. demand, forecast planned vs. actual financial, etc.
Managers can utilize this information to know about the risks and take course corrective actions ahead of the curve to mitigate them. For instance, with the help of forecast planned vs. actual financial reports, managers can check if the project is progressing according to the estimated budget. If there is a variance, then they can take corrective actions and control project costs ahead of time.
2. Provides customizable dashboards & reports
The resource management software enables managers to create or configure the dashboards per their requirements and view the data accordingly. For instance, a resource manager can check whether the resources are working on billable or non-billable and admin tasks or strategic projects in the dashboard and understand the work distribution.
If a resource is allocated to non-billable or admin work for most of the capacity, managers can mobilize them to relevant strategic or billable work. This will facilitate them to maximize productive utilization and enhance profitability. Additionally, the dashboards are built with administrative interfaces. As a result, they give role-based access and lets you control data visibility using security rights, portal designs, and filters, which prevents information overload.
3. Assist in preventing resourcing bottlenecks
In the absence of real-time analytics, managers often create a resource plan based on mere guesswork and intuition. This leads to various resourcing bottlenecks such as last-minute firefighting, skills shortage, over/under utilization, etc. But resource management integrated with Business Intelligence helps managers combat these bottlenecks and ensure that the project is successfully delivered within time and budget.
For example, while planning for a pipeline project, the resource manager can get foresight into pipeline projects. Based on this data, they can initiate capacity planning. Using the capacity vs. demand reports, they can proactively identify the excess or shortage of resources. Thus, they can implement appropriate resourcing measures like training, upskilling, selling excess capacity, etc., to fulfill them and avoid last-minute firefighting.
4. Ensures optimal resource utilization
The lack of accurate insights into resource metrics can lead to sub-optimal workforce utilization. The over-allocation of employees will lead to stress and burnout, which can even cause unplanned attrition. On the contrary, underutilization of resources will result in disengagement, leading to a demotivated workforce.
But, with the help of BI, managers can get accurate insights with real-time utilization reports and heatmap. It enables decision-makers to quickly identify where resources are over or under-allocated with work. Accordingly, managers can take appropriate measures to optimize resource utilization and improve productivity. For example- When a resource is underutilized, managers may bring forward projects and assign them to it. On the contrary, if a resource is overutilized, the manager can either adjust the project timeline or procure additional resources to ensure uniform workload distribution.
5. Helps future-proof the workforce
Resource management software powered by real-time BI provides accurate forecasting analytics. Using this advanced forecasting, managers get foresight into pipeline project demands in terms of skillsets, competencies, efforts, location, etc. Based on that, they can evaluate existing resource capacity against the project demands.
If there is a gap, they can initiate upskilling and re-training programs and L&D initiatives to future-proof the workforce and bridge the capacity vs. demand gap. Also, the BI tool helps in providing real-time updates about the competency matrix regularly in an organization, which allows managers to formulate an ideal Individual development plan (IDP) for each employee to improve their employability.
“Business intelligence is essentially timely, accurate, high-value, and actionable business insights and the work processes and technologies used to obtain them. – Swain Scheps, Author of BI for dummies.”
Aptly said, Business intelligence provides real-time data, improving the decision-making process. Moreover, it allows organizations to access essential information, thereby gaining a competitive advantage in the market by increasing profitability and sustainability.