Developping a resource mangt for successful project mangt

PROJECT MANAGEMENT 13

Developing a Resource Management Systems for Project Management

Developing a Resource Management Systems for Project Management

Introduction

The important role played by resource management systems in enhancing the quality of projects management has been established in areas such as time and cost control. Findings from research studies show that prudent allocation of resources is critical to successful completion of projects. As the most important driver of project progress and a key project management tool, resource management systems can strongly influence quality and timely delivery of project outcomes. Across many industries, costs and limitations of improving project processes call for implementation of resource allocation systems. Quite often, policies for effective resource allocation in projects are difficult to implement because of the iterative nature of project cycles, which causes delays in resource shifts between project tasks. This difficulty can be overcome through implementation of resource management systems. The purpose of this paper is to explore literature about use of resource management systems in project management.

Definition and Significance of Resource Management Systems as Tools for Successful Project Management

Resource management systems represent a set of tools for enhancing decisions regarding allocation of resources for effective project management. These systems are mostly automated and available to project managers for use to enhance resource efficiency Herroelen (2005, P. 413). According to White and Fortune (2001, p. 7), the scope in the the functionality of resource management systems and their associated implementation requirements is often based on specifications outlined during the project definition stage. Raymond and Bergeron (2008, p. 217) appreciate the significance of resource management systems in projects arguing that they not only enhance decision making processes but also help project teams in understanding and appreciating challenges. For the choice of resource management systems, Engwall and Jerbrant (2003, p. 403) recommends implementing a system that reinforces the functional requirements of ease of use, friendliness, budget, risk mitigation and consolidation of information processes.

According to Kostalova, Libena and Svedik (2015, p. 102) resource management systems are important in project management because they allow project managers and teams to track resource allocation right from the project conception stage to its execution and completion. These systems thus provide project managers with crucial information that can be utilized to achieve high levels of efficiency in project management. Information relating to scheduling of tasks for optimal resource utilization, time management, stakeholder engagement, quality control and task assignment is greatly enhanced through proper implementation and use of resource management systems. Forcht, Kieschnick, Aldridge and Shorter (2007, p. 425) advise that when using resource management systems and tools in project management, care should be taken to ensure that this usage is aligned with the project objectives. He further reminds project managers that resource management systems and other information systems are mere auxiliary tools and therefore their utilization in project management must be based on applicable procedural considerations.

The inability to complete projects within definite deadlines and allowed budge limits is a common problem that has been documented extensively in literature (White & Fortune 2001, p. 8). In large project such as construction, meeting deadlines and minimizing resources are the most important concerns for project managers and their teams. Various resource allocation techniques have been studied, including the use of information systems and cross-functional collaborations between project teams. Despite the superiority of these techniques, constraints arising as a result of costs, project stakeholder relationships and project architecture often impede project managers’ ability to allocate resources effectively. Often, project managers resort to resource management systems as a key strategy for minimizing resources and ensuring speedy completion of projects.

Herroelen (2005, p. 413) reports that resource management systems can significantly improve project deliverables such as performance and quality by increasing productivity and quantity of resources allocated to a project. Regardless of the scope of any project, resource quantities and the associated productivity levels are not only limited but also difficult to redefine, leaving prudent management of the resources as the most viable tool for enhancing project success. Indeed, studies such as Liberatore and Pollack-Johnson (2003, p. 164) have shown that resource management systems, if implemented well can lead to dramatic improvements in projects even when the quality and quantity of available resources is severely constrained.

Despite the obvious contributions of resource management systems in enhancing project success, studies have shown that these systems are rarely implemented effectively. According to Winter, Smith and Morris (2006, p. 638) this is mainly because most project development processes are iterative in nature. This means the projects are conceived as closed loops where need for redefinition of project scope arises often and forces project managers to make changes to resource requirements. The iterative nature of most projects means that the total resources and work efforts needed to complete the projects can create challenges that were not anticipated when defining the scope of the project. In this case, effective allocation of resources can be extremely difficult, which will inevitably impact the ability to meet all project deliverables as expected.

Kostalova, Libena and Svedik (2015, p. 97) argues that the complex and delicate nature of projects make them extremely riskier than ordinary work. As such, a key aspect of the responsibilities of project managers is to implement systems for identifying and managing risks. Risks can be related to the allocation of resources. Use of resource management systems can be construed as a contingency plan for responding to risks proactively. Indeed, risks associated with resource use are the most important contributor to project delays, inability to meet targets and low level of stakeholder satisfaction. When resource-related risks are managed well, project deliverables are achieved easily.

Herroelen (2005, p. 416) notes that advances in the field of information technology are the basis for development of resource management systems. Indeed, most ERP are computer-based systems integrating complex algorithms for optimizing decision about resource use for successful project delivery. Therefore, in order for companies to achieve optimal results from the use of resource management systems, they must invest substantial resources in computer hardware and software as the basic step in successful implementation of resource management systems. In addition, investing in people, processes and policies is also a good starting point for accruing resource management system benefits in the long-term.

Meaning of Project Management Success

Utilization of resource management systems in project management is fueled by the need to achieve and improve success. The notion of project success implies efficiency in resource use and a shorter project schedule. According to Larsen (K 2003, p. 169) the attributes of successful project management are many and vary depending on the context of the project and its associated outcomes. They would encompass the commonly expected indicators of compliance with the budget satisfaction of project shareholders, high standards of quality and meeting of all project goals. Liberatore and Pollack-Johnson (2003, p. 164) identified common factors that lead to project failure or success. These include proper definition of basis for the project, skills and competencies of project managers and team members, support from top management, definition of task and type of management styles used. All these factors suggest that success in project management requires elaborate planning with commitment to continuous review of progress and challenges.

According to Ravindran (2008, p. 64), it is important for managers to define factors responsible for successful project management so as to ensure efficiency in the allocation and utilization of resources. One of the most commonly used strategies for defining to success factors is through the use of resource management systems. These systems have the capacity to lead to positive long-term outcomes. Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee and Podsakoff (2003, p. 879-903) discussed the benefits of employing diverse techniques to achieve project management goals. One of the techniques discussed in his article is the implementation of resource management systems and related information systems. In this researcher’s view, implementation of resource management systems leads to unparalleled success in project management. Thus, resource management systems are indispensable tools in any project.

Utilization of Resource Management Systems and Tools in Project Management

Based on available research findings regarding the extent of utilization of resource management in project management, there is sufficient evidence to show that these systems are widely used in diverse research projects. According to Amami and Beghini (2000, p. 17) utilization of resource management systems as the primary means for enhancing resource efficiency in projects has reached an all-time high in recent years due to increasing complexity of projects and resource scarcity. Indeed, majority of project managers are looking beyond the traditional scope of resource allocation to realize an enhanced vision of project efficiency. They achieve this through utilization of various tools. A study by Love and Irani (2000, p. 649) found that most resource management systems are used more for support of strategic decisions regarding resource allocation with the ultimate aim of achieving superior project deliverables. The diagram below shows how a resource management system can be used to support decisions about resource allocation in a typical project. As shown in the diagram, implementation of such a system involves several iterative steps.

Developping a resource mangt for successful project mangt

Figure 1: Basic Steps in a Resource Management System Source: Author’s Creation

Source: Author’s Creation

Figure 2: Basic Steps in a Resource Management System

Nagaraju, Reddy and Chaudhuri (2012, p. 660 -665) assessed specific areas where project managers utilize resource management systems most. He found that exploitation of resource management systems to improve success in project management is higher in large scale and complex projects as well as in organizations with high regard for superior levels of project management. According to this researcher, resource management systems are used widely to improve efficiency in the management of time, cost, risks and reporting. This specific focus in use of resource management systems was confirmed in a study by DeLone and McLean (2003, p. 24). The study found that utilization of resource management systems for project resource planning and monitoring and time management is crucial for ensuring speedy delivery of expected project outcomes.

According to Storms (2008, p. 17-40) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are the most common type of resource management systems used by organizations to enhance success in projects. Unlike other systems, ERP systems have the ability to contribute to realization of strategic competencies in the use of scarce resources. Inefficient planning regarding resource use leads to project failure, which can be costly in large projects. Since project managers work under tight schedules and are expected to deliver maximum results using limited resources, they have to exercise prudential judgment about the most effective strategies for meting those objectives. ERP helps managers in making the most prudent decisions.

Identification of Gaps in Existing Literature

Although existing literature has extensively documented varies issues related to implementation of resource management systems for successful project management, little research efforts have been focused on design of policies for implementation of these systems. According to Meredith and Mantel (2006, p. 29), policies provide a framework and guidelines for developing resource management systems and their subsequent utilization in projects. A study by Haponava and Al-Jibouri (2009, p. 164) identified foresight as the primary features of resource management system development policies. On the basis of the important role that resource management systems play in facilitating project success, development of policies is a worthwhile consideration. Not only do most systems lack policies but also there is lack of research interest in this important area. As a result, there is limited understanding of the best and most effective ways of approaching this issue (Raymond & Bergeron 2008, p. 216).

There are also research gaps regarding the simulation of models for resource management systems. Models are a critical component in successful design, development and implementation of resource management systems. Through simulation of models, system developers understand the utility value of particular resource management systems as far as project management is concerned. Review of existing research findings shows that little has been done to investigate the impact of model simulation techniques for improved resource management systems development. With sparing research efforts directed into the area of model simulations, there is lack of clarity on the most effective and efficient for designing and simulating models to achieve desired objectives in project management (Liberatore & Pollack-Johnson 2003, p. 164).

Summary and Conclusion

This paper has explored literature on the use of resource management systems to improve success in project management. As explained, resource management systems are a critical successful factor and an indispensable tool in any project management process. These systems are widely used by project managers to enhance the quality of decisions about efficient generation and allocation of resources. Existing studies have made significant efforts in exploring the integration of resource management systems in project management. However, there are gaps in a few areas such as policy development for successful use of resource management systems.

References

Amami, M and Beghini, G 2000, ‘Project management and communication of product development through electronic document management’, Project Manage J, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 6–19.

DeLone, W and McLean, E 2003, The DeLone and McLean model of information systems success: a ten-year update’, J Manage Inform Syst, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 9–30.

Engwall, M & Jerbrant, A 2003, ‘The resource allocation syndrome: the prime challenge of multi-project management?’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 21, pp.403–09.

Forcht K A, Kieschnick E, Aldridge A and Shorter J D 2007, ‘Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (Erp) For Strategic Competitive Advantage’, Issues in Information Systems, vol. 8, no. 2, pp.425-29.

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