Successful project portfolio management is not possible without resource management. All things considered, project goals are not achieved if the necessary staff members (aka resources) aren’t adequately available or if they don’t possess the needed motivation or skills.
Companies are contending with an assortment of challenges:
- Hardly anyone has a clear overview of all the employees’ skills and qualifications. If you, the resource manager, are not totally sure what skills and qualifications your employees have, then it’s much harder to allocate the right people to the right projects in a sensible and profitable way.
- Because there is not enough transparency about capacities and workload, the PMO often plans with inaccurate capacities.
- Everyone, including project leaders, department managers, or executives, wants awesome employees assigned to the project of theirs or to what they consider the highest priority project. This creates potential for conflict, particularly in smaller companies, where resource management takes place right at the individual level. Project managers and employees should understand how the resource manager decides who’s working on which project. In companies that are large, there’s much less potential for conflict because the resource managers usually plan based on roles and the project leaders are entirely accountable for the staffing.
- Key resources or high demand employees often produce a bottleneck situation. They’re usually given to a number of projects and tasks at the same time and are chronically over allocated, while other staff members have ample capacity.
- Employees are continually switching between projects. This leads to delays along with an obvious decrease in productivity and quality
The ideal resource manager has many skills in organization, communication, negotiation, multitasking, change management and compromise. But despite these skills, all of the above-mentioned problems combined make it incredibly hard for resource managers to make confident well-informed decisions that will in reality work. And so, the question remains, what does a resource manager have to understand and do to be able to achieve success?
#1 Multi Project Planning: Consider Capacities
The primary job of the PMO is to approve only so many projects for a particular time as resources are available. Thus, it’s crucial when planning the project portfolio to focus on whether it’s possible to successfully complete all the projects in the portfolio instead of focusing on squeezing in as many projects as you can. Otherwise, resources quickly become bottlenecked. If that happens, the company will often need to hire expensive external resources or perhaps have employees work overtime, which is not sustainable solution.
It’s just as vital to plan with the right capacities from the get go. So, you must also take into account that only about 80 % of employees’ time is typically spent on the actual project work, because the remaining 20 % is reserved for other obligations along with planned and unforeseen downtime.
#2 Multi Project Planning: Setting Priorities
Prioritization can certainly be a challenge, however when the proper priorities are set, then you have a significantly higher chance of project success. The aim would be to assign resources in such a manner that they are able to finish their tasks in order and in the minimum amount of time possible. It’s also beneficial to take into account the wishes of the project managers as well as employees, which will help them to be motivated and subsequently more effective.
The resource manager should take extra care when prioritizing for key resources to avoid project managers competing for those resources and to avoid over allocating those resources. This prioritization is likewise important to effectively fulfil customer orders and also could be particularly challenging if the company has committed to a lot of project deals during the same time period. These challenges are made simpler if the resource manager is planning with the right capacities from the start, which then makes prioritization easier.
#3 Project Planning: Focus on Key Resources
An employee with rare or advanced skills and qualifications who’s indispensable and central to the company is regarded as a key resource. When a key resource is allocated to a task or project, then he/she should be blocked from being assigned to other projects.
Because key resources are in high demand, the resource manager assigns key resources to just the foremost projects and informs the project leaders and project managers. This avoids over allocating key resources and allows project leaders and managers to plan their projects in such a manner that other capable resources are assigned to the majority of tasks, and key resources are saved for the top priority tasks and projects.
#4 Opportunity Planning: Consider Future Resource Requirements
Resource managers should consider “what if” cases. Projects which are still in the approval phase may also require time and resources in the future. This needs to generally be taken into account by resource, even when the final approval for the project hasn’t yet been made. This will reduce the demand for resources to be removed from ongoing projects to focus on the latest high priority projects. In principle, newly added projects should not jeopardize the current, yet strategically important projects.
By identifying potential conflicts and resource bottlenecks at an early stage, resource managers are able to act accordingly. Potential solutions are assigning qualified resources with available capacities or perhaps hiring external resources as needed.
#5 Skill Matrix and Task Matrix: Keeping track of Resource Information
For the best possible resource planning, you must know employees’ current utilization, qualification, and abilities. It’s the job of the resource manager to collect and maintain this data centrally in a skill matrix or task matrix.
Employees typically personally complete the company standard skills matrix. The results can then be collected and assessed using appropriate tools. This will make the search for available and qualified staff swift and easy.
#6 Sprint Team: Reduce Project Risk
If companies wish to minimize project risk, creating a flexible “sprint team” is a great approach. This is a team made up of efficient employees with specialized know-how, who are available on demand. They step in when bottlenecks arise, or specific expert knowledge is needed on critical projects, reducing stress and resource conflicts. For the rest of the time, the team just works on the most prioritized projects to contribute to overall project quality.
As you are able to see, effective project portfolio management is just not possible without resource management. And it will be tough for a resource manager to achieve success without taking these 6 key factors into account. On the flip side, if you match the most qualified and available people to the right projects at the right time, then you are going to create project portfolios that actually work, and you’ll deliver on your projects.
Resource Management ≠ Staffing!
Anyone that equates resource management with staffing is a little too short sighted. Staffing is in fact only a subset of resource planning. Resource management is divided into 3 areas:
- Available Capacity: The job of the resource manager is to assign the necessary skills and roles for the current project portfolio. He/she records and keeps the company’s internal resource data up-to-date. He/she also assigns a role to every employee.
- Project Initialization: The project managers will determine which resources are needed for their projects and subsequently make the request for those resources to the resource manager. Next, it’s up to the resource manager or perhaps team leaders to assign or staff the right personnel to those projects and inform the employees.
- Tactical Resource Management: The resource manager must manage changing framework conditions and resource availability and look for solutions to resource management clashes as they come about.
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About Karl Wood
Karl is a global HR and employment professional who has an impeccable record in delivering HR solutions for industry leading firms. Karl champions ideas that promote growth, profit and a positive organisational identity and sits on the Executive Board of WINC. Read more blogs by Karl.