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Blog By Retain

How to nail resource workflow management

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By Rahat Ahmed
Resource Management Growth Leader

  • 7 min

Managing resources efficiently is the holy grail for professional services firms. Do it well and you’ll deliver projects faster, reduce costs and keep clients happy. Get it wrong, and disorganisation sets in—overburdening staff, delaying deliverables and damaging your reputation. 

Yet many organisations still rely on ad-hoc, manual approaches to coordinate people and tasks. This not only wastes time and effort, but means you lack visibility into capacity and availability. By implementing structured workflow processes, you can transform how your team works.

In this blog, we’ll cover:

  • Fundamentals of resource workflow management
  • Key principles to bear in mind
  • Best practices to introduce
  • Advice on overcoming barriers and measuring success.

Keen to learn more? Let’s dive in.🤿

Importance of resource workflow management 

Handling resource availability, utilisation, and workload without a proper system can be likened to a guessing game. But in professional services, getting this right relies heavily on profit margins, reputation and more. No pressure.

So, where does resource workflow management come in? Well, when you bring in standard processes and systems, things get a lot clearer. This change can make a big difference:

✅️ Match the right specialists to the right tasks. When you know who's doing what and what's coming up, you can match projects with the skills and experience of your team. This cuts down on the stress of having too much or too little to do and stops you from giving people work they're not cut out for, which can lead to delays, extra costs, and not-so-great work.

✅️ Reduce repetition. Also, having a well-oiled workflow means you're not doing the same thing twice. When everyone knows their role and where they hand over tasks, things don't get missed or doubled up. That saves time and resources.

✅️ Gain real-time insight. Keeping an eye on how your resources are used in real-time helps you spot problems early. You can make smarter forecasts, tweak who's doing what, and keep workloads balanced. Plus, it means you can take on more work without burning out your team, which is essential when you're trying to grow.

The bottom line? Managing your workflow isn't just a nice extra—it's essential. Make it a priority, and you’ll see projects getting done faster, cheaper, and better.

Key principles of resource workflow management

We’ve covered the basics just now, but let’s delve a little deeper. When rolling out your resource management processes, these are the three key rules to follow:

Rule #1. Align the skills and experience of your team with the tasks they're handling. We’ve briefly mentioned this one, but there's more to it. It’s not just about matching skills, it’s about understanding deep specialisms. For example, your top developers should be coding—not bogged down in admin work. Similarly, experienced project managers should be strategising—not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty of technical specs. Assigning tasks to those most qualified boosts both quality and efficiency.

Rule #2. Remember that not all client projects are created equal. Assign priority levels based on factors like project urgency, deadlines, business impact, and potential revenue. Then, tackle tasks in a way that sees the most crucial ones addressed first. This smart approach keeps less critical tasks from clogging up your workflow.

Rule #3. Make sure it's crystal clear who's responsible for what. Document who’s handling each task or project part. This helps keep things moving along because everyone knows their bit and can wave a flag if something's up. It also makes handing over tasks between team members way smoother.

Following these principles can streamline your resource management. You get people working on the right things, in the right order, all while collectively pushing projects forward. Nail these basics, and you'll find your workflows become more productive, transparent, and scalable. 🚀

Resource workflow management: Best practices

Now, we’ve covered the basics, but to really kick your workflow management up a notch, try weaving in these resource workflow management best practices:

Embrace automation to reduce the reliance on manual tasks 🔁

Modern solutions offer capabilities such as automated scheduling, task assignment, and approval of deliverables—all with minimal admin. Integrating these automated processes into your workflows not only reduces bottlenecks—but also frees resources for more strategic tasks.

Keep lines of communication free and easy 📢

Encourage regular touchpoints and open communication channels among team members. For example, using collaboration tools can greatly improve the flow of information and ideas, ensuring everyone is on the same page and projects move forward seamlessly.

Keep a clear view of what everyone's up to with shared calendars 📆

When you've got all your assignments, meetings, and days off in one spot, planning gets a whole lot easier. Plus, you dodge those annoying double-bookings and deadline mix-ups before they even pop up. This proactive approach also helps in preventing issues like double-bookings and conflicting deadlines.

Build on flexibility to customise workflows for client needs 🤸‍♀️

Tailor your workflows to the specific needs of each project. Different projects may require different approaches, and flexibility in your workflow design can greatly enhance efficiency and outcomes.

Take advantage of dashboard reporting for a detailed overview of resource metrics 📊

These dashboards give you the lowdown on who's busy, who’s got some room, and what's happening across all your projects, all in real-time. It’s a great way to make sure you're balancing things just right and spot any spots where teams may be overextended or underutilised.

The end result? Implementing these practices collectively forms a robust framework for efficient coordination. By embedding them into your workflows, you can smoothly scale operations in line with increasing client demands. This ensures that teams remain productive, agile, and fully utilised.

Overcoming blockers in resource workflow management

Of course, when you're rolling out new workflows, you're bound to run into some resistance and stumbling blocks. So it's key to keep an eye out for what might get in the way and smooth things over. Here are some red flags:

🚩Identify any processes that create information silos within teams, specialities, or systems. These silos limit visibility of resource availability, ongoing work, and priorities.

💡Top tip: Introduce centralised tracking and planning tools. This helps in breaking down barriers and ensuring information flow.

🚩Look out for best practice examples already flourishing in your organisation. Seek teams that manage their resources well or have efficient workflows in place.

💡Top tip: Understand what makes them successful and use these insights to drive change within your department. These success stories can help get buy-in for new initiatives.

🚩Find 'workflow champions' across various departments.

These individuals should be empowered to fine-tune systems, suggest improvements, and positively influence their colleagues. They act as advocates for new workflows, sharing the real-world benefits and return on investment from their own experiences.

Changing how resources are managed takes some stick-to-itiveness. But by tackling these roadblocks head-on, showing off the wins you already have, and getting some key people to lead the charge, you can set new, more effective standards. Before long, the improvements in how things run will be clear for everyone to see.

Measuring and improving resource workflow management

Getting your new processes up and running is just the start when it comes to sorting out your resourcing. It's equally important to keep an eye on how things are going and always be on the lookout for ways to make them even better.

Here's how you can measure and improve your workflow:

✅Keep tabs on resource allocation rates to ensure demand matches up with who's available.

✅Monitor task throughput to spot and steer clear of any bottlenecks.

✅Check capacity benchmarks to figure out if teams are under or overloaded.

It's a good idea to compare how your processes evolve to catch any recurring snags. Also, make sure to review whether the changes you've made are actually making things better.

Don’t forget to ask your team for their input:

🟢Are they still running into problems?

🟢Where do they think tasks are being duplicated?

🟢Have any new issues popped up with the latest processes?

Use what you learn to fine-tune your procedures, bump up automation where it makes sense, and tweak roles as needed. Remember, your workflows aren't set in stone. They should flex and adapt as your business needs change.

Nail resource workflow management with Retain

Getting resource management right is a game-changer in professional services, but often, messy and unclear processes get in the way of team productivity.

By smartly managing your workflows, you'll see a clear boost in visibility, better team coordination, and more efficient work. This means assigning staff more effectively, avoiding work pile-ups, and saving time by cutting down on manual tasks. Plus, you'll be ready to take on more projects.

Key takeaway: Think of workflow management not just as a nice-to-have, but as a must-have in today's competitive world. Stick to the best practices we've talked about and get your team on board. You'll reap the rewards of efficient resource workflow management in no time.

If you liked this, you'll love our guide to resource planning and our LinkedIn newsletter. 

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