Post-industrial project management in the era of knowledge work needs to deal with knowledge work projects that bring subject matter experts together to collaborate on new and unique products and services. This might involve scientists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, software developers, or web designers working with the business to build something new. Each of these groups has specialized knowledge, typically no single person knows everything needed to complete the project. What is being created is new or sufficiently different from what was created in the previous projects.
Projects in different industries such as aerospace and defense, biotech, high tech manufacturing, software and professional service often engage a large number of knowledge workers. As the world is moving to digitalization, the number of knowledge work projects is increasing in almost all industries. But many managers today are still using the same old project management tools designed in the industrial era and ignoring the fact that managing knowledge workers is very different from managing machinery and material as project resources. In knowledge work, each resource is different. Managers really need to know the allocation and utilization of each resource in the project.
Complexity of obtaining resource data by hand
Knowledge work sometimes is unpredictable but one must know the actual efforts that the knowledge worker has spent on the activities in order to reasonably extend the time and effort. But most managers don’t have the right tool in their hands. Using the following as an example, can your tool tell you the start and finish time changes of all affected resources if Activity 1 of Project 1 is delayed?
If no, can you calculate them by hand? After you try to calculate them by hand, you would realize that it is non-trivial and is non-practical if it happens multiple times. The following is the answer:
Resource allocation and utilization have finer granularity than activity in a project. Moreover, resource allocation and utilization are not only affected by any activity utilizing the same resources but also by the leaves and non-project engagements of the resources. Because they are hard to track, most project management tools don’t track them.
Efforts need to be managed
Knowledge work, in general, is less visible than industrial work and managers must know how the knowledge workers are spending their time. Even for the activity that is as visible as below, the resource allocation and utilization should still be managed properly. If no correct resource data are available, how would they know the activity will be done on time, 1 day late or N days late?
Hazardous pitfalls must be avoided
PPM can provide you with the timely and correct resource data to avoid the following pitfalls:
Right organization right tool
Whether your organization needs to tune up one or all of these potential resource management pitfalls, embracing modern solutions such as PPM can have a major positive impact on all aspects of your organization. As a result, the teams you already rely on will become stronger elements of your long-term success.