Fundamental Principles of Project Portfolio Resource Planning

If the management team in your organization makes any of these complaints, you have a resource planning problem.

  • "We start all kinds of projects but have trouble finishing them."
  • "I don't have a clue what people in my organization are working on."
  • "We have made major investments in tools and training. Why are we still having so much trouble executing?"
  • "All of my people are maxed out and we are always asked to do more - and no one sets priorities!"

If you have these problems you (probably) aren't doing anything wrong. You just aren't doing one big thing right!

The missing element is resource planning which doesn't spontaneously appear when you put other tools and processes in place.

You do need project management tools and training, life cycle processes, project selection methods, . . . [fill in the blanks yourself]. But if you don't have an effective resource planning process, you will continue to underperform.

If you have a problem completing projects,

  1. don't start more projects than you can finish successfully and
  2. monitor portfolio progress with achievability in mind.

If you don't know what people are working on, ask the people who know - the functional managers of the individual contributors.

Seven Principals of an Effective Portfolio Resource Planning Process

1. Ownership of resource/skill supply and demand data is decentralized to functional managers of individual contributors.

  • Project managers express a need for skills at a periodic level of effort
  • Resource managers {confirm | deny} their ability to provide the request
  • Resource managers substitute people for skills when the time is appropriate.

2. The data collection process is simple with minimal overhead for the data providers (resource managers and project managers); analysis and reporting are simple, powerful, and flexible.

3. Functional managers and project managers explicitly agree on the project plan and resource plan at every major phase gate.

4. All attributes of the project plan, including resource, skill, and asset requirements, are captured in retrievable form at major life cycle phase transitions, i.e. as named baselines.

5. Every project review considers the portfolio impact of going forward; every portfolio review considers portfolio achievability.

6. Resource managers provide look-ahead forecasts of resource utilization and project  managers provide look ahead forecasts of project attributes on a frequent enough basis to make it habit.

7. Every functional manager up to senior management reviews utilization reports, analysis, and  exceptions at an appropriate level of detail and frequency.