Considering how unclear goals, weak ownership and operational inefficiencies challenge the status quo, bridging the gap between strategy and implementation is on every project portfolio manager’s mind. Given how project delivery hinges on competent staff producing the exact deliverables requested for, it comes as second nature to seasoned project managers to complement their project portfolio management strategy with a resource management plan.
It comes down to the fact that projects draw from a pool of both internal and external resources. And when multiple projects are approved and released, it’s all the more important to know how and where critical resources are shared among various project activities. It then becomes a question of deploying truly available staff whose competencies are the right fit for the project. Moreover, the plethora of projects within a project portfolio can be interdependent as well as mutually exclusive by nature, meaning that your team’s effort bandwidth would need to be gauged and adjusted against fluctuations in demand.
As business landscapes evolve rapidly across the globe, it’s time to use resource-centric secrets to your advantage. Beginning with the question everyone wants an answer to,
How does the project portfolio resource management strategy work?
Projects can contain elements that are either familiar or completely diverse, in terms of proposed deliverables, beneficial returns and resources needed. The planning phase of project portfolio management starts with understanding the resource requirements per project and the route to plugging skill gaps efficiently.
Resource management is instrumental in mobilizing the right resources in the right places for the time requested. While outsourcing core work to contractual hires has more to do with procuring the right skills than to save costs, it is nonetheless a resource-centric decision that maximises the project’s actual billing worth. The following three steps lets you proactively craft the project portfolio resource management strategy –
1. Scientific resource forecasting against pipelined projects:
Pairing experiential instincts with intuition lets you study projections for the future in terms of the resources needed for projects in the pipeline. For one, more projects can be added to the pipeline, thus risking priorities being reordered overnight. Or conversely, unviable projects get removed, lessening the number of pre-planned work packages. Your resource capacity can be correspondingly optimized to respond to these fluctuations.
What’s more, inspecting your existing capacity lets you instantly retrieve resource-centric insights such as which resources are busy/free/absent, instantly deployable or undergoing reskilling measures at present to transition to newer knowledge areas. With this information, you’ll know your staff’s actual and projected availability. You can then plug the skills gap with an expanded capacity, or conversely, remove outdated skills that don’t fit in anywhere. This way, robust productivity scales remain unaffected by an economically downsized team.
2. Create a Plan B from the resourcing perspective
Every project portfolio manager anticipates risks to materialize at any time, any place within constrained projects. And the contingency plans devised to contain (if not entirely resolve) them centers around how these risks affect your project teams. They are responsible for value and revenue generation, after all.
It’s a given that metered benefits post project delivery have a direct correlation to how successfully your resources and their capabilities were utilized. The key to creating a fail-safe Plan B, then, is to centralize your resource data into role-based dashboards. You can then plan out resource resource allocations at the project level before rolling it up enterprise-wide. The visual representation of your resource pool lets you track resources in real-time to answer resource requests. You’ll even have a resource buffer in the form of secondary staff competent enough to take up the slack. This proves useful should original team members be overbooked, stretched onto multiple tasks at once or unavailable once the project’s underway.
Staffing your projects with optimal resource allocations goes a long way in benefits planning. For one, with the right hands in place, you avoid last minute hiring and firing measures, thus minimizing labor costs. What’s more, your staff maintain healthy utilization rates by investing their efforts into project outcomes that add benefit-oriented value to the enterprise.
3. Time-sensitive expense reporting
The cost-benefit analysis occupies most of a project portfolio manager’s bandwidth, given that projects are funded only after vetting out its feasibility. This calls upon a combination of previous experiences, market knowledge and judgment calls.
Naturally, expense reports are time-tracked to balance the project checkbook. This is done to understand if the original funding was sufficient, excessive or had to be stretched to accommodate risks and scope changes post project commencement.
Projects that are insufficiently funded risk coming to a grinding halt, delaying task progression. And increased project arrears point to a direct increase in overhead, as more resources (both technical and human) are released to compensate for time lags. Not only do you end up overstaffing your project unnecessarily but also lose track of which actions led to increased costs.
Expense tracking prevents this from happening by assessing how much of the fund was utilized, such that any unused spends are re-allocated onto parallel activities. More importantly, it alerts you to funds running low which can be reported back to investors in order to gauge the milestones reached against project performance till date. In other words, continually monitoring the concerned project’s viability from both a financial as well as non-financial perspective.
Over to you
Which of these surprisingly simple hacks let you see resource management in a new light? Let us know in the comments below!
Aakash Gupta heads the Sales Enablement and Business consulting wing at Saviom Software. He champions for futuristic business models that are sustained by global workforce efficiency. To know more on how this works, follow his posts here.