Resource Flow and Utilization Employee Management, Human Resources, Team Work

Successful project management relies on understanding how limited resources, the entirety of which is often not available all at once, can be most efficiently used to complete a project. The inflow of these resources, their utilization, the way their utilization leads to further inflow and the possibility of the cessation or interruption of these resources, has to be managed.

Consider a simple construction project. The contractor is provided with cash installments by the client, with which the contractor must complete the project. It is common for the contractor to always be a little behind in payments i.e. the amount granted to the contractor is always a little less than what he requires for the construction (efficiency and cost-cutting aside!). The contractor must schedule each sub-project (such as erecting columns, excavating, or painting walls) in a way so that he does not overstep the cost.

As the inevitable deficit point is reached and the contractor must receive funds in order to continue work, the client (upon reviewing the quality of the work) releases them. This ensures a mutually beneficial position for both the client and the contractor – pay the contractor too much, and the client risks inefficient use of his money. Pay the contractor too little, and the quality of the work may suffer.

The resource flow and utilization-to-continue-the-flow model is found in many strategy games as well. These then also require a more fun version of project management! Consider the classic history-based strategy game Age of Empires. Workers must collect resources quickly and use them to build armies for protection. This protection allows them to collect more resources, which in turn supplies even larger armies, which then defeat the opposition and win the game. Should the workers fail to collect resources fast enough, or should the opposition cleverly cut off these workers from the resources, the ‘project’ will ‘fail.’ An overly simplistic analogy, perhaps, but nevertheless a nostalgia-inducing one!

The same concept can be applied to any business model and any project. A magazine must devise a method for quickly procuring enough articles to feature in its inaugural edition, with failure to acquire the articles within time resulting in delayed magazine launch, dissatisfied authors and finally, project failure. The key, therefore, is to manage the inflow of resources in a way that ensures further inflow, while accounting for salaries, overheads, material costs and other expenditures.

Resource Flow and Utilization
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