Resource utilization is the efficient and effective use of an organization's resources to realize its objectives. As a metric, it shows the proportion of total resources in use in a set timeframe. By measuring it, you can provide a service that is well run, better resourced and with equipment and spaces deployed to better effect.
What’s more for resource and inventory managers, using and improving this metric will get you greater recognition for the role your team plays within the organization. This last benefit really shouldn’t be under estimated, as it naturally leads to a virtuous circle of more investment and greater returns, with purchase decisions always being well informed.
Benefits of Resource Utilization
Here’s why it’s important to have a sound approach to resource utilization and its measurement within your organization:
- Good utilization of resources is important for ROI. You’ll know if some items are being under-utilized and can replace them with more useful resources
- Measuring utilization means there isn’t over reliance on items in high demand. What if the piece of equipment that is critical for assignments breaks at an inopportune time? You can avoid this by knowing when to invest in the extra stock
- It helps ensure good productivity, as projects and assignments are much less likely to be delayed or rescheduled due to being under resourced with the right equipment
- Work can be confidently scheduled between different teams, knowing that sufficient quantities of equipment will be available. In turn, this leads to greater collaboration
- Users are better supported with the resources they need. In a university, for example, this leads to better quality academic or creative output
How to Approach Resource Utilization
Measuring the utilization of existing resources might seem complicated, but with the right support and approach, it’s easier than you would expect. Whether or not you have a dedicated project manager to measure and monitor utilization, it’s crucial that it’s made a simple process. With easy to extract data, you get a flow of information to all parties that need it, informing decision making, future work, collaboration and investments. For the staff responsible for managing and maintaining the equipment and resources themselves, it means they can continue with their work without being overly distracted trying to generate the data, e.g. via stock taking, resource tracking and other administrative tasks.
Having all resources tracked in a single system is the first step to easy utilization measurement. If resources are used by a large number of users, equipment checkout or scheduling software is a great place to start.
Connect2 equipment checkout software provides key resource utilization intelligence. It lets you see instantly how many times an item or category of equipment has been used in a given time frame, and the number of users involved. The data is automatically generated from equipment checkout activity – so as each item is checked in and out to a student or staff user (e.g. by barcode scanner which links to the connect2 software), the usage intelligence builds in the system.
Being able to visualize the data in addition to the raw figures, makes it easy to apply the results in decision making. In the connect2 system, resources are organized by category or type. The utilization data is shown in charts which reveal the maximum number of resources in use at a single time, week by week over the year. So a manager can see how often concurrent usage was at 100% capacity, or conversely, how often resources were lying idle.
An important thing to check here is that when resources are scheduled for use, but fail to get checked out, the reservations are treated as cancellations. This is what connect2 does automatically – it ensures that cancelled usage is not included in the utilization data.
Resource Utilization - Examples of Data Use
Having transparency on actual usage creates the critical alignment that many institutions are seeking, matching resource budgets with items in greatest demand. It gives you much greater opportunity to invest in the resources that are most needed.
When managers leverage this data in reports and management meetings, it ensures they get recognition for resources and services when it’s due. As well as raising the profile of a department, to adds crucial support for business cases and funding applications, so they get the required investment.
Universities and colleges that use connect2 for equipment lending make good use of the resource utilization analytics it provides. Here are just a few examples:
- Some media stores analyze reservation data by department, course or module. They report on how many times allocated resources have been used and the number of students benefiting in each case. One of our university customers shared the importance of publicizing when their high-end equipment items are helping to win awards for their institution or contributing towards improving student grades, highlighting the number of times they are being used within a module
- Many media stores run resource reservation services for all students irrespective of course or department. Sharing the usage data on this institution-wide lending activity helps get more funding each year to invest in equipment for everyone
- Some institutions convert the number of reservations for items during a semester into typical commercial hire costs for the types of equipment in question. This calculates a value for the resources provided which can be shared with senior managers. This data can also be used as part of a service review to calculate ROI for new kit purchased: money spent on new kit vs value to students
- If a media store is finding that they need more equipment items to meet student need, the data provided by connect2 is invaluable for including in a business case to purchase more. Simply put, it shows you how the store is coping with demand, and how often it is falling short, identifying which equipment is heavily used.
When you’ve got quick and reliable resource utilization metrics, you’re not confined to reviewing inventory at the end of one academic year in preparation for the next. A thorough review can be made at any time, to the advantage of your service and the users it supports.
So ensure you’re using a single, centralized system to gather the utilization data, then reference and share the statistics whenever the need arises or there’s opportunity to do so. Resource utilization is definitely worth the investment to get right for both the good of your team and the users you support.