How many times have you had to move project deadlines just because some of your employees weren’t able to work according to their estimated capacities? We reckon a lot!
Performance disparity has always been a significant challenge for managers. You want to utilize your employees at full capacity but they only end up performing at half their potential, which causes business costs to rise.
The good news is: You can fix this with effective project planning.
What is Effective Project Planning?
As a manager, you have to evaluate the number of existing projects and in the pipeline, their deadlines, requirements, the resources they will utilize and a lot more, so you can effectively plan out each project’s timeline.
Say a new project can be completed by utilizing one of your resources at $100/hour. Keeping a 30% profit margin, you quote $130 to your client. But what if the assigned employee is unable to complete the project on time, or finds it too complex to deliver in time?
For one, missing a deadline or two means impacting your relationship with the client (worst case scenario: they might end up parting ways). You can allocate more resources to get the project done in time, but that will increase your cost.
You see, successfully completing projects in time without increasing costs or utilizing excessive resources is an art not many managers can boast about. Because that requires effective project planning, which you can ensure by following these pointers (Heads-up: It’s not as easy as it sounds!):
#1 Keep a buffer in project deadlines
Inability to meet deadlines is among the worst nightmares for managers. In addition to increasing project costs, it also pushes you to take resources off other projects, which disrupts timelines and starts a chain reaction that leads to more missed deadlines.
Speaking from experience, our team prevents this from happening by keeping a buffer time between project completion and delivery. You can also add an additional 20% to 30% cost you may have to bear due to unforeseen reasons in your quote. These simple steps will prove to be excellent in timely delivery of projects without affecting costs or reallocating resources.
Recommended reading: 4 Tips for Managing Projects and Ensuring On-Time Delivery with Remote Teams
#2 Individual and team capacities
Knowing the capacity of your team is critical to planning projects effectively.
It helps you determine the workload your team will be able to handle per hour. This allows you to calculate the number of projects and the tasks you can complete, let’s say in a day or week.
Suppose you have three employees, each of which can work for eight hours a day at $20 an hour. It means that your per-day capacity is 21 hours (factoring in the breaks and everything) at $180. You can add utilities on top to bring daily costs up to $250 approximately.
This information will help calculate the number of hours your team requires to complete an existing project, and if they have room to work on new ones. It will also allow you to conduct costing and quote rates based on the number of hours the new project will take.
#3 Highlighting core competencies
Knowing the strengths and skillset of each employee can take your team’s performance to the next level. It will not only help use the best suited resources to complete each task quickly but also create room for more projects without exceeding your team’s capacity.
Expanding on the above example, out of the three team members, one is an expert in writing code, the second has a good grasp on fintech, and the third is exceptional at QA.
Now, if you have a project that requires some building a solution for optimizing financial reporting processes, you can create a dream team with these three employees as core members driving the effort. Each team member will work to their fullest potential for completing the project with the best quality results while ensuring its timely delivery.
In essence, what we mean is knowing your employees’ strengths will help you complete projects faster and benefit you in a number of ways, like:
- You will save resource and utility costs on a project
- Employees will be able to deliver more work during their eight-hour shift since each of them will be working on something they’re already good at
- With employees being able to efficiently revert tasks within their capacities, it will create room for additional projects, which will eventually increase profits
On the flip side, knowing your team’s weaknesses is equally important. Employees working on tasks that take them longer to complete may allow you to barely get done with existing projects on time, but it certainly won’t give you the leverage to bring more clients on board.
Identifying core competencies of your team has become so critical today that companies are actually hiring experts to look into it.
How Does Effective Project Planning Ensure Better Resource Utilization?
Whether you’re working in a brand or an agency, your employees remain your most critical resource. At the end of the day, how much profit your business generates comes down to your team’s performance. So to maximize your profits, you need to utilize resources better through effective project planning.
It helps you plan for your team intelligently by:
- Knowing where you’re losing hours and fixing it through time tracking initiatives
- Identifying outputs against estimated individual and team capacities
- Allocating tasks based on the key strengths and skills of your employees
Recommending reading: Top Productivity Tips To Help Remote Employees Deliver Quality Results
#1 Find lost hours
Effective resource allocation requires good project planning, and part of it is knowing the number of hours each employee works, which is probably one of the biggest challenges of being a manager.
Timesheets can help here. But some employees have a lot on their plate and can forget to log time spent on different tasks, which eventually makes it difficult for you to identify billable hours and hence calculate project costs. This is where a time tracking and resource planning software can come in handy.
These software track billable hours of your employees in timesheets, which you can access with a few clicks. Accurate data of employee working hours can open up doors to new opportunities. For instance, you can:
- Make forecasts about potential turnaround times for similar projects which can greatly help in planning
- Increase employee satisfaction levels since you assign projects based on employees’ strengths
- Scale your business due to reduced time to completion
#2 Compare working capacities
Part of effective project planning is to estimate the working capacity of your employees. You can set the standard at eight working hours per day and then allocate projects based on these hours. But the problem is, not many employees are able to work at their estimated capacity.
You can track each employee’s output and compare it with your estimation using a dedicated time tracking tool and identify the difference in working capacity. The disparity in employee performance can be due to a number of reasons including:
- Inability to understand project scope which makes execution difficult
- Employee burnout due to excessive work pressure which adversely affects outputs
- Failure to meet deadlines due to unorganized work patterns and undefined priorities
Once you know the reason behind underperformance, you will be able to take relevant measures to make sure that your team is able to perform at full capacity.
#3 Allocating tasks based on skillset
Two employees from a similar background can sometimes be better at different tasks. For instance, if you have two full-stack developers on your team, one could have a firm command on handling databases and backend tasks, while the other may have a knack for developing frontends. Effective project planning means you assign tasks to each of these employees based on their core capabilities.
But how do you identify the strengths of your individual team members?
Well, you can use a time tracking and project planning solution to gather data regarding the time employees spent on each project. They may perform well on certain tasks while taking excessive time on others. Similarly, the quality of output in different projects can also vary with your workers’ skillset.
Using the insights, you can easily determine if employees were able to complete a task comfortably or had to struggle through it. Once you know the strong points of your employees, you can plan future projects accordingly to utilize your resources in the best possible way.
This will help your team to deliver tasks efficiently while saving up more time to deliver other important projects. In simpler words, effective project planning will help you in allocating work based on your employees’ skillset, which in turn, will allow them to deliver at their maximum capacity.
timegram Helps Plan Projects Better and Utilize Resources More Intelligently
It is a zero-surveillance time tracking tool that offers a broad range of features including:
- Automated time tracking for insights into the time your team spends on tasks
- Project planning and management to assign tasks, track progress and ensure on-time deliveries
- Business-specific KPIs to gauge employee performances and identify strengths and weaknesses of your team
See full list of features here.
Looking forward to benefiting from the right project planning and time tracking tool? Download timegram today!