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The A/E Firm Balancing Act: Properly Scheduling Projects & Resources
March 21, 2022
For architecture and engineering (A/E) firms, resource planning is both an art and a science. You’ve got to consider several variables, including team capacity, project timelines, and client budgets. Fail to consider all of these factors, and projects can go “off the rails” very quickly!
The same is true if the attention you pay to them is out of balance. Focus too much on team resource utilization, and you can break a project’s budget. Put too much emphasis on milestones, and the result can be burnout and poor utilization.
Add to these considerations the complexities of resource availability—individual capacity, PTO, holidays, budgets, etc.—and there’s an almost overwhelming amount of information you’ve got to juggle. And, of course, all of it has the potential to affect your firm’s revenue.
The Need for Flexibility
Another key to effective resource scheduling is that you’ve got to maintain a high degree of flexibility. Things will come up. Timelines will change. You can be sure of that! Consequently, you must have advanced planning tools that make it easy to adapt without missing a beat.
You also need clear visibility into the effect of the changes you’ve made and the ripples those changes create. This begs the question: How can I keep timelines, budgets, and capacity in sharp focus simultaneously?
The answer is that you need to leverage technology designed with that requirement in mind.
"Firms that use a solution designed explicitly for managing A/E resources get features and functions that empower them to handle resource planning faster and more accurately."
Benefits of an A/E Industry-Specific Resource Planning Solution
You can use many systems to manage your firm’s resources, from simple spreadsheets to advanced, purpose-built solutions. Needless to say, you get many more benefits from a system designed specifically for the A/E industry, including that it can empower you to:
1) Understand when you must meet milestones on the project timeline
To keep projects on track, you’ve got to be able to see how your team is progressing on tasks as you work to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.
2) View capacity and assignments of each resource in given timelines
Unknowingly overloading someone with work is not only damaging for them, but it is also damaging to the project. That’s why it’s critical to be able to view each person’s capacity and assignments at a glance.
3) See updated capacity for each team member across projects
A team member may have few or no hours committed to your project in a given week, but that doesn’t mean they’re free. They may have significant commitments on other projects. You’ve got to be able to see their availability across all projects.
4) Compare the potential value of scheduled time to the project budget
From a financial perspective, maximizing the profitability of a project requires that you see the cost of time scheduled compared to the amount of funds allocated to pay for those hours.
5) Make bulk edits to resource assignments when changes occur
Rarely (if ever) does an architecture or engineering project play out precisely as planned. Delays happen, scopes creep, and in general, projects evolve.
The Right Tools for the Job
You can’t handle any of the tasks above efficiently or effectively with a spreadsheet. And in most cases, you won’t do much better using a generic project management system. Firms that use one of those approaches typically have to spend much more time scheduling their resources than they want to.
On the other hand, firms that use a solution designed explicitly for managing A/E resources get features and functions that empower them to handle resource planning faster and more accurately—leaving more time to focus on delivering outstanding work.
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