Whether you’re in a 100-person company or a 2,000-person company, and whether you use just a few external vendors or hundreds, one rule remains: managing internal and external personnel is necessary for overall company growth, cost containment, and deployment against critical initiatives.

Manual management of resources and vendors has some serious setbacks:

  • Favoritism: Vendor selection may be based on personal relationships, personal incentives, and other unethical business practices.

  • Lack of Accountability: Without a cross-company view of all resources and vendors, along with effectiveness metrics, ineffective resources and sub-standard vendors can continue to exist.

  • Lack of Awareness: How many resources are available at any given time? When will in-demand resources be freed-up from their current projects? Who are the best and worst resources? How many resources do we have with a particular skill?

  • Unknown Costs: Are there rate cards for current vendors? How do they compare? What is the ROI on each project involving an external resource? Have your vendors been increasing their costs?

Old School

Approximately eight years ago, a billion-dollar corporation used to manage IT resources around a boardroom table, relying on the minds of each IT resource manager. When marketing proposed a new project, the CMO had to attend the meeting and reorganize the priority of marketing projects for the IT resource team.

Next, the team would try to remember which resources they had on various projects, when projects were slated to end, and whether those resources could be applied to new projects. Many times, the CMO would leave the meeting with no answer from the rattled IT resource team beyond “We’re not sure who we can use, but we’ll get back to you.”

Resources would shuffle around. Projects would get pushed lower on the priority list and trickle along or stop altogether. Many projects were never completed, and resources were continuously bounced from project to project. IT resource morale was low and creativity was stifled because the general feeling was, “Why put so much mental effort into this if it may just be cancelled anyway?”

Resource Management Automation

As with so many corporate inefficiencies, automation may be the answer to resource allocation issues. There are many different types of resource automation packages on the market. Some are focused on internal resource management and others on external vendor management. Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions go far beyond resource management, providing full dashboard views into projects across the organization. They also have “drill-down” capabilities to display each individual project’s cost, budget, milestones, internal team emails and chat sessions, charts and reports, project status, roadblocks, etc. Most of these solutions come with a robust “off the shelf” collection of features and require little customization. Affordable for most organizations, these PPM solutions far surpass project management via Excel spreadsheets.

Automating vendor management is a bit different. As with PPM solutions, there are a number of Vendor Management Systems (VMS) on the market. Vendor management automated solutions can be used a number of ways, but in regard to the management of external personnel resources, these are some of the capabilities:

  • Creating and circulating IT requirements to various approved vendors

  • Reviewing submitted candidate resumes and other required information

  • Routing candidates internally for approval or declination

  • Tracking candidate questions, interview schedules, and notations

  • Tracking onboarding requirements, like background checks, skills testing, drug screening, education verification, and client compliance forms

  • Requesting additional information on candidates and providing hiring approvals

  • Sending out declinations to other vendors when a candidate has been selected

  • Tracking budget and timeline and automatically sending out a reminder to the hiring manager when the consultant’s time or budget is about to expire, allowing them to extend the candidate engagement

  • Tracking access provided to the candidate (building, computer, network, etc.) and automatically sending an email to compliance to shut-off access when consultant terminates

  • Providing leadership with “at a glance” views of all contractor deployments, schedules, costs, and skill types throughout the organization

Both PPM and VMS solutions can come as Software-

As-A-Service-based, web-enabled applications. As mentioned, both generally require very little customization and have open architecture formats to allow integration with managed systems, such as ERP, HR, or financial, if desired.

Manage What Matters

Automation not only addresses managing resources, but it also addresses any potential fraud within the organization in terms of vendor preference or bias.

From an ongoing cost standpoint, people are your most valuable resource. They run your business. It is important to know what all of your internal and external resources are working on, how much their work is costing the organization, and how much revenue it is generating.

Children guess. Adults predict.

Tony Streeter is the Chief Marketing Officer, SVP at Y&L Consulting, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Streeter has led new product development, Ecommerce marketing, and integrated platform marketing initiatives for major companies such as Harland Clarke, Deluxe Corporation and RR Donnelley. Currently, Mr. Streeter leads marketing and branding initiatives for Y&L Consulting, a comprehensive IT Services & Solutions company specializing in IT Development, Information Management/BI, and Service Desk Services.