Projects at Work on Resource Planning Conference 2013

PeterandDickThe 2013 Resource Planning Summit, a thought leadership conference focused on portfolio resource planning and management, drew its largest audience ever was earlier this year. The summit, now in its fourth year, presents theory and practice in resource planning and related processes from the point of view of companies at various stages of implementation. As a point of emphasis, RPS organizers view resource planning and management, in the context of project portfolio management, as unique processes that are not addressed adequately by PPM, phase/stage gate processes, or Project Management Institute’s PMBOK Guide. The RPS program offered a diverse mix of professional and practical presentations. Among the more than 125 resource planning and project portfolio professionals who came, one attendee described the events as “one of the best industry-led conferences” and a “great blend of inspiration, perspiration, and relaxation.” Presenting companies ranged from Fortune 500 giants to recent NASDAQ supernovas. An impressive list of speakers and presentations included:

Jason Boyd, PMO executive, Bank of America eCommerce Division surprised, shocked, and even dismayed listeners when he stated, “Tired of filling out time sheets? Just do away with them.” In Boyd’s division of 20,000 people, the practice of filing time sheets was called into question. They concluded that the cost of filing time sheets — not the software and IT expense, but the cost of team members completing them, line managers reviewing and approving them, and PMO/senior managers ensuring consistency and compliance — approaches seven figures annually. Most of the time sheets had pro forma amounts that did not vary from week to week. Jason’s presentation was an excellent guide for implementing resource planning in large financial services IT organizations, but most attendees at the conference will remember the part about time sheets.

Kevin Nguyen, director, PriceWaterhouseCoopers emphasized the importance of not making solutions complex and used the concept of an “Inflection Point Curve” to describe the relationship of solution complexity to value realization. Based on data from PwC engagements, the more complex the resource management process, the higher the risk of decreasing benefits. There was much to like about this well-organized presentation and its clear, actionable recommendations.

Meg Smith, VP product development systems, Stryker Corp.; Natalie Williams, senior consultant Global Portfolio Management, Motorola Solutions; and Dan Matarazzo, senior director, Clinical Finance, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals formed a panel that discussed obstacles to effective resource planning in their organizations, and the techniques they use to overcome them. A common theme among the panelists, as well as from other presenters, is that implementation of a resource planning process can threaten many people at all levels of the organization. Offering insight into what’s in it for them — better communication about current workload, solid justification for hiring or reducing the workload, clear priorities among competing activities — can turn around even the most reluctant opponent. Natalie Williams strongly recommended that a respected senior executive sponsor the effort to explain and defend the implementation, especially in meetings with other senior managers who resist the process.

Nate Bonar, PPM manager, B. Braun Medical, emphasized the importance of trust in a successful implementation. He described the formula at Braun Medical as a combination of trust, leadership, process and tools. Bonar suggested that none of us has all the answers and there will be mistakes along the way; however, if people trust each other, they will give the benefit of the doubt and continue to communicate. The major message of this presentation was simple yet valuable: 1) Accept that trust is a must; leadership matters; and the two are inseparable; 2) Build the right processes; and 3) Select a tool to enable the process.

Bodine Balasco, Mark Mayfield, Terry Schmidt, Frank Saladis and Stacy Goff led attendees through the subtleties of change management and team building with entertaining and engaging presentations. Goff and Saladis both sizzled with positive, people-oriented approaches to performance improvement and project leadership.

Peter Heinrich, CEO, PDWare, opened the summit by comparing today’s processes to those used by the early Egyptian teams responsible for the building of pyramids. According to Peter, the process of efficient resource planning is based on fresh, timely data served as needed. Users should periodically review and analyze the results of capturing relevant status and baselines at phase gates in order to explain the results and modify the process. The key is to make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

“This conference has grown in attendees and impact every year because of the quality of the industry presentations and the excellence of the leadership speakers,” Heinrich said.

-- H. Molk, conference attendee

--Reprinted from ProjectsAtWork (9/6/2013) @