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1 Resource Management? I ve got Excel and half a day a week thank you very much. What do I need to know? Regal House, 4 Station Road, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 1NZ Tel: Fax: Web: Registered in England and Wales No: VAT No:

2 Document version control Version Date Name Comments th March 2010 David Dunning First draft th March 2010 David Dunning Incorporated review comments th April 2010 David Dunning Elaboration This document is for informational purposes only. CPS MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS DOCUMENT Corporate Project Solutions. All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective companies. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. Registered Office: Regal House, 4 Station Road, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 1NZ Registered Number Registered in England and Wales VAT Number Page 2 of 13

3 Every organisation has a responsibility to its shareholders or the public at large to use its resources effectively. In many organisations, resource management is seen as a line management responsibility, to operationally task individuals and track their assignment between project and non project work. Resource Management is however a much wider subject. In organizational studies, resource management is the efficient and effective deployment for an organization's resources when they are needed Most organisations have to balance resource allocation between business as usual activity (such as carrying out a service level, making things), and changes (projects and programmes). Please note - This discussion focuses on people resources rather than facilities. Organisation Structure The ability of an organisation to effectively utilise its resources is directly related to how it has organised itself with respect to its priority between line functions and project delivery. A functionally orientated organisation tends to focus on disciplines or service levels, with staff organised to carry out specific roles, focusing exclusively on their subject matter. The execution of projects within a function may be good, but the ease with which projects go across functions may be limited. This kind of organisation can get good utilisation, but is not typically great at cross functional projects. It may be characterised by weak project management or a baton passing approach which doesn t lend itself to the best results end to end. Mubeena (2010) Organisation Design and Structure [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2010] Page 3 of 13

4 In a Project or product orientated organisation, there are still functional groups, but people may be dedicated to certain project teams. This means that the service to projects is very good, but resources are not easily shared across teams. Utilisation may not be as effective as in a functional organisation. Mubeena (2010) Organisation Design and Structure [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2010] Page 4 of 13

5 A combination of these two models is the so called Matrix organisation, where management disciplines need to be in place to enhance the utilisation of each functions resources and maximise delivery through effective project and programme management, negotiating flexible allocations. This appears an ideal compromise, but in practice can lead to significant overhead if processes, standards, support infrastructure, tools and governance are not in place. Mubeena (2010) Organisation Design and Structure [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2010] To manage resources, we need to understand what competencies exist and who has them, to visualise what is needed in the future. This is reliant on how the business is planning transformation from current to future state; not always something organisations can do easily. It is not simply hiring the right people, and it takes time to develop individual competencies with training and development. Another aspect to looking to this is to take account of the availability for work. For example, how are holidays to be scheduled so they do not interfere with crucial work? When is it sensible to carry out Training? How much time needs to be set aside to manage daily and distractions? Page 5 of 13

6 Prioritisation Every organisation needs to balance business as usual and change. This is not simple. For example, should service levels for business as usual be sacrificed in the short term in order to bring about an important change? In the illustration below, if we have an HR organisation, how much degradation of service level should be allowed when there is change to do? Should the prioritisation method be based simply on alignment to strategic objectives? If so, BAU work and changes can be compared easily. Should priority be based on simple cost / benefit calculation? How should we include risk / uncertainty of costs and the benefits? What place does Business Case have in the organisation culture, and is it possible to rely on ongoing Benefits estimation and progressing? How should projects inspired by leadership be prioritised? For example, should big projects won by the boss always be seen to be the higher business priority? Does small size mean low priority, and how many delays to a small project should be suffered before a big project gets a delay? Assuming it is possible to define work and prioritise, can we see a pipeline view of work at various stages of approval and probability (example below)? Page 6 of 13

7 Is the organisation taking strategic make or buy decisions, or tactical decisions case by case? It is typical that organisations have many proposals for work, but these diminish to a few which get done. How is effort estimation done, how is likelihood/risk/contingency to be assessed? Is there a pre sale / planning function which generates estimates, or do we need to make provision in people s availability to be engaged on estimation work? It is not sensible to define tasks for specific individuals way into the future, it is far more rational to plan headcount for budgeting purposes, then the generic resources needed for the medium term, then the people to do the tasks. Plan Structure It is a natural assumption for joined up organisations to use a plan (tasks, resources, sequence, structure) to define what work needs to be done on projects, but it is not necessarily natural to use plans to plan BAU work. Typically, line managers are drawn to the simplicity of the spreadsheet to organise work commitments. This seems a perfect solution, as a model can be generated to reflect exactly where the individual needs are. However, if a bigger picture is needed, collating spreadsheets is difficult. Moreover, implementing dependencies and cross project dependencies is not straight forward. For example, if a plan slips in one area, how are line manager spreadsheets to be updated with the delayed requirement? How are the effects of that to be transmitted to plans affected? If all planners (project and BAU) can use the lowest common denominator (a plan), there are clear integration and reporting benefits. Assuming plans are possible, who should plan? Assuming prioritisation happens, how do we get the demand for resource responded to with allocation of individuals? Page 7 of 13

8 In the diagram above top left - a project manager may wish to schedule individuals onto tasks so they have control over delivery, but a line manager may not wish to release valuable resource to be squandered on a frivolous task. At the bottom - should the project be broken down into Work packages that line managers own and schedule, which the project manager joins up? Top right represents a compromise, where the line manager maintains an allocation plan but the project manager has a separate project plan. This plan could be something entered, or perhaps a model generated from dates and rules not an execution plan, but a model of resource demand. Which approach is chosen for an organisation or even project by project - very much depends on the circumstances. Scheduling Assuming it has been possible to plan and estimate effectively, a plan owner then needs to be able to assign work to people in a way which respects their pre existing commitments. Where a conflict for resource occurs, there are several options: Hire more Alternate resource Can tasks be done in parallel? Outsourcing paying a premium for delivery / quality. De-scope deliver less Resource Scheduling is a skilled process which creates an imperfect model of reality. The chosen level of plan detail decides how easy that model is to maintain, but also how finely control can be Page 8 of 13

9 applied. Moreover, human issues come into play when tasking people, as some personalities like tasks listed, some like a goal / deadline and to be left to work it out for themselves. The problem is of course compounded if resources cannot be dedicated and are shared between several people planning all at once. This is compounded again if there are dependencies between projects. Should resource availability get tight, it may become impossible to manage a stable scenario. It may be more sensible to dedicate people to projects and simplify scheduling that way, or to only allow allocation to a certain level of utilisation to enable coping with problems and issues that occur. There are vendors claiming that their toolset eliminate resource scheduling pain, but realistically, what assists effective resource scheduling is pipeline visibility, good prioritisation, estimating, risk management and planning / control. Progressing It is pointless creating a plan if it cannot be kept up to date and continually useful. Moreover, we need to ensure people understand what their tasks are and understand delivery constraints (cost, time, quality). For control and improvement purposes, a level of time accounting will be needed, which is useless unless it is accurate / apportioned to the right things. Achievement and remaining work also needs to be confirmed to enable future prediction of deliverables and resource requirements. With a multi project or BAU model, it is easy to realise Oh dear, an overload from a simple slippage, which is compounded if this flows across projects. It is important to think very carefully how issues are managed in a plan based scenario. For example, it might appear expedient and in line with service levels if a line manager pulls a person from a project to deal with a BAU issue. But what if that causes days of re-organisation work to accommodate, and sets back 3 projects by weeks, loosing thousands of pounds in benefits? Conversely, if a project manager grabs resource, sneaking in a change to surprise and delight one customer, it could prevent the line manager from fulfilling their BAU service level. Portfolio Management It is arguable that Resource Management needs to go hand in hand with Portfolio Management. A portfolio is the investment in the changes required to meet strategic objectives - This is a definition from the P3O guidance. Portfolio management is a set of Coordinated strategic processes and decisions to balance organisational change and business as usual. All businesses undertake portfolio management to some degree. Without formality, the following symptoms may be apparent when trying to manage resources: Wasted resources, slippage and overrun and operational disruption with change implementation Constant battle against no clarity or stability in priority leading to political fights over resources Page 9 of 13

10 No governance leading to poor performance De-motivated people; recruitment or retention issues? Assuming that BAU and change work is welcomed in a controlled way, the business should keep reviewing its allocation of resources to confirm the balance within projects and between projects and BAU is still right. It will need to keep asking questions like What if What needs to be asked of projects is do we have ongoing Business Case viability? Should we be stopping costly projects which are not delivering benefits, putting them on hold to fulfil a better opportunity? Clearly, the organisation needs maturity and structure to be able to make these kinds of judgements. What to do? Focusing on resource management, there is a basic strategy that can be adopted: Fundamental to everything is creation, cleaning up and ongoing maintenance of the resource pool. Secondly, there is the definition and maintenance of people s availability. As these two areas are being cleared, plan data quality, structure and related allocation / update procedures need to be harmonised. Once planning is effective using a solid resource pool with managed availability, it can be said that an organisation has cracked Resource Planning. Once the current state is stable, work can begin to prioritise work, manage it into being, and provide oversight throughout the work lifecycle. At some point, it may become appropriate to review organisation structure with respect to how work is organised, but this is not an easy undertaking and does not provide an opportunity for a quick win. Once priority based (re)planning is effective with a pipeline to plan skill needs between projects and BAU, it can be said that an organisation has cracked Resource Management. Page 10 of 13

11 The successful adoption of portfolio management consists of five elements: Organisation recognition of an issue, will to improve, resources to enable change Processes common ways for people to manage resources People clarification of peoples skills and abilities Technology the right level for the right reasons at the appropriate moment in an organisation s maturity advancement Strategy to take the vision of a future state and plot a feasible path to it. Initiate implementation by following a programme management approach: Devise a problem statement which has meaning to all Establish Organisational Will Appoint a champion for changes at the right level Set realistic benefit expectations Know the reality of your starting point Map out the vision for how the objectives can be met Prepare a clear, agreeable Vision statement Conclusion Resource management means different things to different people. Some see it as tasking of individuals; others believe it to involve creating reporting toolsets. In reality, it is these things and many more, which combine to make resource management a complex undertaking whether the complexity is understood or not. It is a sensible first goal for many organisations to bring consistency to the definition of resources, and their availability, linked in with simple planning of resource demands and related reporting. Once planning is cracked, and updating is controlled, planning models can be extended to the more sophisticated processes of demand management, optimum plan structuring, and allocation management. By placing resource management objectives in phased introduction of Portfolio Management the following benefits can be realised: Increased proportion of projects directly linked to the corporate strategy, save resources from being spent on the wrong things Directly save costs through standardisation of repeatable processes and simplified / effective reporting More effective use of limited resources through efficient scheduling Plan better, waste less time dealing with issues Learn from experience The level of maturity of people, processes and organisation components will constrain a resource management approach. There is a limit to how far technology can solve problems. The technology solution should not advance beyond the capacity of the people, process or organisation, or it risks being over extended, or just not used. However - An Enterprise Project Management solution is part of the infrastructure required to support portfolio and resource management. Page 11 of 13

12 Whatever the depth of requirement or source of interest in Resource Management, a sensible approach to change will ensure the organisation realises increased capability and business benefits. If the initiative is sized correctly in terms of scope, complexity and risk, it can succeed. Stakeholders must be engaged, excited, a led, with their interests acknowledged and responded to. The organisation will need to change its behaviour and set up the right supporting infrastructure. All of these components have to be in place to gain resounding success. It might be difficult for an organisation to create a vision for where it is going if all it can see is the immediate problem. The crucial factor in implementing Resource Management is to fit the right strategy to the host organisation, to make the right changes the right way at the right time even if the strategy is only the first step. Unless the first step is taken can there be a second. If an organisation is sensible and realistic, even the largest changes can be made over time, despite how that may appear at the start. In summary: Organisation Structure is a limiting factor Pipeline management will define how effective any other measures to manage resource will be BAU and Projects need balancing Planning ideally needs common consistent tools on a database Capabilities, Support roles and Controls need to be sorted Implementation is a change programme simple first step to the richest process Engage the right stakeholders at the right levels Treat symptoms but deal with the underlying problem too Page 12 of 13

13 About David Dunning David is a CPS Director and co-founder of Corporate Project Solutions. David has over 15 years experience in the following: Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Process Consultant, Project Management Systems Implementation Project Manager, Professional Trainer, Procedures Author, Systems Analyst, Account Manager / Sales Executive, Team Leader / Line Manager, Facilitator, Presenter, and Evaluator; who has overseen project management solution implementations in many organisations. David s primary business is in working with organisations to improve portfolio, programme and project management performance by working in areas of: People assessing skills and abilities, providing training and mentoring as appropriate, helping organizations learn Process mapping out the lifecycle, process steps, work instructions and templates / standards for operating portfolio, programme and project management cultures. Using PRINCE2, MSP, P3O and M_o_R as the primary sources of best practice. Organization assisting define stakeholders, generate the organisational will to make change, define the management / support roles required to make the process work with the people available. Technology working through how process and management / support needs to use information, and provide the capability to ensure this is accurate, timely and cost effective. More recently David s role is in project direction in these areas, from business need identification, solution definition, strategy development, planning, and issue and risk management to on the ground team management conducting the business transformations. David regularly speaks at public engagements, most recently the Project Challenge in Birmingham where he presented on the benefits of Resource Management, and is an active contributor on Public forums. Page 13 of 13

Resource Management?

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