Four reasons why resource planning is a big win regardless of process maturity level

The number of excuses offered for failing to implement a portfolio resource planning process appears infinite. Here is a small sample:

    * Our organization is not mature enough.”

    * Our organization is too mature – we already have a process (even though it doesn’t work well).

    * Our executives won’t, can't, or don’t stick to project priorities.

    * Our organization is different; resource planning won’t work here.

    * Resource planning will take too long, cost too much, or be too difficult for our organization.

The PDWare approach gets around these and other barriers to acceptance. Here are the reasons why every organization should focus on resource planning and some thoughts on the barriers and appropriate responses to them.

Reason 1: A credible inventory of people, skills, and projects is a big win for many companies

I can’t count the number of times I have heard, or heard of, this lament, “I don’t have a clue what all the people in my organization are working on.” A simple process to capture in one place the inventory of people, their skills, and projects answers that complaint and many others.

Reason 2: A prioritization process is not required to get value from resource planning; a resource planning process inevitably leads to priority decisions

An organization can’t or won’t set priorities? Fine. Let’s just look at our inventory of projects and their skill needs against our inventory of people and skills. Wherever you see significant shortfall you have a decision to make. Delay or kill projects, add resources, reduce scope of projects – these are your only choices. And by making them you are making priority decisions.

Reason 3: Resource-loaded task-based detailed project plans considered harmful

You cannot have a successful resource planning process based on rollups of resource loading on tasks in detailed project plans. Such rollups are almost always wrong, often wildly wrong. Resource-loaded tasks on detailed project plans are good as a first approximation to a credible resource plan for a project. But many types of projects do not need that level of detail to create a realistic resource plan. Furthermore, even when the bottom-up resource plan is good, it will become less and less accurate as the project goes on and activities are changed and reordered. The level of detail is not commensurate with the need in all but very few cases. Moreover, most companies do not have the uniform level of skill and discipline (and time) to make a bottom-up process work.

Reason 4: Accountability matters: functional resource managers are the key to success

The enormous investment in project management has marginalized functional managers in operational portfolio management practices. One of the most important things a good resource planning process does is formally recognize and engage functional managers in the planning process. Who else in the organization knows more about the utilization of resources than the manager to whom they report? Who knows more about their abilities and their suitability for specific tasks and projects?

--Peter Heinrich