Updated: May 11
We speak to Guy Marsh, Head of Resource Management at Shell about his journey and the evolution of resource management.
Q: Can you tell us a little about you and your career in resource management?
GUY: I've been working in resource management for about 12 years now. Started off with Hewlett Packard (HP), very very much in a role which didn't exist, so I had to kind of make my own way as we went along. I think it's an interesting position which has evolved over time where people didn't really understand it and now has become an integral part of the business which is supported by technology such as Precursive. So yeah, it was at HP for five years and progressed up from UK&I resource manager to having global responsibility. Then I moved on to Vodafone and embedded a similar thing that I did at HP, which is the fundamental practice of resource management and again started in the UK and then spread that out worldwide, covering their core hub locations.
Then I took a little turn into the consultant arena and I really wanted to get more exposure to different industries and rather than big corporates, I wanted to see how these issues came to life in a different environment. I did some work for some tech startups as well as the legal sector, which is very different in terms of the way that they operate. A little anecdote with that is that I asked them to fill out a skills capability matrix to the lawyers in the firm. Out of 120, probably about 30 of them filled it out in pen. Gave it to their PA who took a photo and then sent it back to me in an email. So that gives you a bit of insight into the different mindsets and different organizations that I work with, which is so very, very different from the more technical one which where I'm at now which is Shell, and they're very switched on and I’m in a part of the business called IT Engineering.
I have quite a varied experience in resource management from its origins 12 years ago to now, so I've seen the various stages of evolution over the years.
Q: Tell us about how Shell has adapted to this virtual environment for resource management?
GUY: The team which works under me is split across four locations: UK, India, Netherlands, and Houston, so we're all used to working quite remotely. Individual groups are very much used to working together in their hub offices. So whereas before at least there was some interaction in person between teams, now it's been much more difficult to form those relationships. People haven't really had a chance to get to know each other that well until obviously the implications of coronavirus here. Technology has been critical for sharing information, best practices, what’s happening day-to-day as well as maintaining the relationship of the team.
Just to make sure that things continue to be connected. So I think from a team management perspective, that's been challenging.
Q: Can you explain what resource management is?
GUY: Yeah, I mean it's very simple in concept. It's quite basically the demand that you have versus the capability of your resources, your people, versus the availability. Now those are the three key components.
And you can't have one without the other. You need to know what's coming in, you need to know who can do that, and you need to know when they can do that. So where traditionally that has been done at kind of siloed level with small teams and they would manage it, now it's done on a lot broader scale in which we are heavily reliant on technology to get that wholesale view of what's happening. And then that's linked to costs and profitability, and you know, from the kind of board-level executive level down, they need to understand what the demand means, if there's a change in that demand, what's the 'What If' factors? How would they cope? What would they need to do? Because obviously that then has an impact on recruitment, on training and on upskilling. So resource management really is like the key kind of nerve center for being able to decide what you need, how you need, and what you need to do. So it's that fundamental source of information that allows you to make intelligent decisions and in essence, get the most effective use out of your workforce, your staff, in essence, so those are the kind of basic guiding principles around it.
Theoretically, it is very very basic but once you scale up and once you include different time zones, specific restrictions with government projects, you know, certain clearances etc. it becomes something that is not easily tracked and can get out of hand if you don't have the right systems and processes in place to underpin it.
Q: What does good look like with regards to Demand Management in Resourcing?
GUY: So the key for demand or, in essence, what you're selling is understanding a certain degree of predictability about knowing what you are selling. So if you as a business know that your run rate is on certain products is you convert 8 out of 10 of those prospective deals into projects, you get them over the line in a certain area. Then you can start planning for that in terms of your resources, you know that I will need largely X amount of Project Managers etc., balance that against what you currently have and then make decisions accordingly. So the key for demand is getting an early snapshot of the pipeline. You need a forward-looking view and the longer term the better, because the more time you've got to execute and plan accordingly. So I think that is a crucial part.
Now what also happens and what was a scenario that I faced when I was at Vodafone is you had demand coming from 6, 7, 8, 9 different channels because Vodafone is a business that is largely based on acquisition, all using different systems, so not used to being an integrated view. For example, a project we've done there called “Single Front Door”, having one single interface, the one funnel where all demand comes in. So you're capturing everything because, again, not having that complete view, making plans on the assumption that you do and then two or three big deals coming out of nowhere, then that puts all your planning out the window, or at least has a significant impact on it. So a single interface I would say is absolutely KEY for demand. As well as a clear idea of what your success rate is for winning deals and also then a clear view in terms of projected timelines. Get that forward look as to when it's happening.
So I appreciate as well that with sales, there's a degree of unpredictability. At Shell, there is an acceptance that we have some of the areas, if we move that to at least so 50/60%, that's acceptable. You know, you're never going to get 100%, but if you work within the parameters of the areas which you are, and define what a degree of success is, then you kind of move back from there. And if the improvements could be made, and further refined. But I think it's important to have a base level as to where to strive in terms of that predictability so that you can, again, when you're looking at what your availability is in terms of resources versus demand, you know roughly what margin of error is and can make calculated assessments.