Effective resource management in learning and development is one of the most important elements in delivering training projects on time, on budget, and to the expected quality.
But resource management takes a little bit more expertise than blindly assigning instructional designers and SMEs to whatever training project comes up next.
Making the most out of your team and their individual skill sets requires careful planning and precise execution of those plans. That’s where resource management comes into play.
Proper resource management and allocation is more akin to a science than an artform. But it’s also essential to retain a certain level of flexibility. That way, you can be sure of your plans while staying agile enough to respond to unexpected change.
So, here are eight secrets for effective resource management in learning and development:
1.Create a Resource Pool
When creating project timelines and team schedules, having a snapshot of available resources can help you prioritize the allocation of resources to specific projects.
When projects are already underway, it can also give you a view of your active resource pool. Who is available right now this second to take on some extra work or help out on a project that is running behind schedule? Do you have anyone available who specializes in video editing or graphic design for a complex piece of learning content?
By centralizing available resources by:
- Employee time (available hours),
- Individual skills,
- And budget,
You can better administer tasks across different projects and get an accurate picture of resource availability at any time.
2. Plan for Resource Shortages
No matter how carefully you map out capacity and plan your resource management, resource shortage is inevitable.
How often do we run out of budget only for an urgent training request to fly in the door? Or realize we need to hire some last-minute instructional design freelancers to get an important project over the line?
Every unexpected change or request has an impact on your careful resource management. Plan accordingly with a proactive contingency plan for identifying potential resource shortages. Building this into your budget, having a pool of regular freelancers or contractors, or plan prospective hiring around specific skill shortages to mitigate.
3. Identify Resources in Short Supply
What skills do you need to operate an effective training team? This will depend on how much you outsource course development, the complexity of your training projects, and the intricacy of your content design needs.
But the important thing to note is that you can identify these resource shortages well before training project kick-off and plan accordingly.
For example, if you only have two or three (or less!) people on your team who are fully fluent in your authoring tool of choice, it’s important to prioritize that skill when it comes to resource allocation between different projects. Plan your project timelines around resource shortages so that individual projects don’t get caught out with shortages.
4. Pay Attention to Subject Matter Expert Availability
Subject matter experts are essential to the training creation process. Without their expertise and input, you can’t deliver comprehensive learning experiences, especially when it comes to knowledge that is organization-specific.
But they’re not dedicated resources for the L&D department. They are a shared resource, often consulting with a number of different departments and mostly managing a day-to-day schedule of their own workload, too.
So how can you plan for SMEs whose availability is a little more inconsistent?
First, establish a list of SMEs who regularly contribute to training projects and identify one-off SMEs long before training project kick-off.
Secondly, agree on a dedicated amount of time needed per SME per project and build that into the project schedule.
5. Plan for Interruptions and Change
Effective resource management is not a one-off task at the start of a given time period or project. It is an ongoing process with resource availability and allocation in near-constant flux.
Timing issues and scheduling conflicts are inevitable, but they can be planned for accordingly. Ensure there is some amount of flexibility in your resource allocation process by building timing buffers into each project.
6. Use the Appropriate Level of Granularity
You cannot account for every second of every staff member’s working time. Outside of projects, there are admin tasks and paid time-off that needs to be taken into account. As such, the level of granularity you use to analyze and allocate individual resources can (and should) vary.
For example, you may plan individual tasks for a certain project, but reporting can be done at a much higher level of granularity when tracking time. Project duration may also have an impact on the granularity of your resource planning and time reporting.
7. Pair Resource Management With Capacity Planning
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. The processes, timing, and outcomes are different, but they are highly interdependent:
Capacity planning and resource management don’t really work in isolation. Or if they do, their value is limited. The best resource management starts with thorough capacity planning.
8. Keep Your Resources Happy
The main goal of resource management is to increase productivity and make the most of your available resources. But the worst thing for productivity is high staff turnover, especially for highly skilled workers or knowledgeable, tenured employees.
So investing in keeping your team happy with their workload and responsibilities can go a long way towards maintaining high productivity levels.