PMO

Who Should Own the Resource Management Process?

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One question I get asked a lot is: Who should own the resource management process in an organization? There are a number of considerations, and perhaps the first question to ask is: What should the role consist of?

First, let me clarify that ownership of the resource management function (maintaining resource data and assignments) is a different animal than owning the resource management process, and the answer may not be the same for both. For instance, often I see the PMO or some other central group or person own the process, while the functional resource managers perform the resource management function for their respective areas.

As for what ownership of the process means, it would typically include:

  • Defining the process and maturity path (e.g., who should submit assignment requests and enter assignments, when, how, and at what level)

  • Facilitating data building (master data such as cost centers, rate, working hours, and other resource attributes)

  • Monitoring adoption (examining data diagnostics to ensure the players are participating)

  • Gaining management buy-in (ensuring the management team at all levels is in agreement on the benefits and outcomes of the process)

  • Reporting on capacity and demand (making leadership aware of key areas of upcoming shortfall and gaps in staffing vs. the upcoming pipeline)

  • Recommending sourcing strategies (evaluating and proposing staff augmentation models to accommodate peaks in demand)

A PMO or RMO (Resource Management Office) is in the best position to conduct these organization-wide activities. In fact, a benchmark study I was involved in with Appleseed Partners on resource management and capacity planning practices showed that nearly 70% of organizations with mature resource management practices have a specific role or function defined for capacity planning and resource management. Only 26% of less mature organizations employ such a role.

With ownership of the role defined, the central function could help answer key high level business questions, such as:

  • How much resource time is unproductive (i.e., spent on lower value activities)?

  • What is it costing us to keep the lights on versus strategic projects and other work?

  • How much are we spending in each division and does this balance match our strategic intent?

  • How many FTEs do we need to support our current demand pipeline?

  • What is the expected benefit of our current pipeline of strategic projects? What are we willing to spend in order to achieve it with adequate staff?

  • What areas are we spending too much on that can be sacrificed?

  • What products, services, or software applications should be retired? Are we wasting valuable resources supporting them?

  • What skills are needed to excel in our future workload? Are we staffed adequately in our critical skill areas?

  • Which initiatives have already been funded? Are we able to meet committed business milestones and cycle times?

I would also suggest that performing the actual resource assignment and management function is best done by the individual resource managers. After all, they know their staff best and have the big picture of not only their staff’s current workload, but their upcoming workload. Resource managers and project managers should be in constant contact and work together to ensure proper staffing of work, based on priorities.

In all, having a dedicated and committed owner of the resource management process is a good way to ensure that resource planning, the #1 key driver of successful strategy execution, is properly addressed. And having resource managers participate in the process operationalizes it.


JB Manas - website photo.jpg

Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The ROI of Resource Planning

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If you try searching Google for data on the ROI of resource planning or resource management, you won't find much, if anything. You'll find lots of articles on the ROI of Enterprise Resource Planning tools, such as SAP, etc., and some on the ROI of portfolio management in general, but resource planning in the context of project portfolio management is an underserved area, and especially so when it comes to the value of it.

It's a shame, because resource planning is the single most important thing you can do to improve project throughput, boost productivity, and increase value delivery. If you balance capacity with prioritized demand, good things tend to happen. In fact, organizations that implement resource planning can gain on average approximately 30% of the value of their project portfolio. Do the math. It's usually a lot of money. And that doesn’t even touch on the exponential intangible benefits.

Where does such a lofty estimate come from? It just so happens that I did the research on this and wrote a white paper on the ROI of Resource Planning. And if anything, this estimate is on the low end. 

You can download The ROI of Resource Planning for free HERE. Happy reading!


JB Manas - website photo.jpg

Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How Your PMO Can Support Agile AND Waterfall: Tips for Adaptive PMOs

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So much has been written on the Agile PMO, the Adaptive PMO, and how the PMO needs to evolve from being the methodology police to an enabler of business agility and a leader of change.

Related to this is the ability to support the ever-growing need to incorporate Agile, Waterfall, and Hybrid approaches in their mix as PMOs become more adaptive. As such, I found this article by Susanne Madsen, Agile or Waterfall: 8 Tips to Help You Decide, very fair-minded and informative. 

While iterative approaches can still be used to provide rapid feedback even on projects with the most stringent of requirements, a pure Agile approach can be challenging for a huge projects with distributed teams and little access to customers. Deciding on the best approach is more an art than a science. Fortunately, the article offers a good set of considerations to help the project manager and/or team decide, ranging from project size and team distribution to user access and solution clarity. 

Keep in mind, the PMO's role shouldn't be to dictate methodology; it should be to offer guidance (such as the above) around approaches and execution, fostering good practices while keeping its focus on more strategic things. After all, the PMO has a crucial role to play in helping the organization bridge strategy and execution, drive portfolio and program benefits, and maximize its resources toward the most valuable work. 

This 2011 article from PMI on Reinventing the PMO hits the nail on the head, and is still relevant and fresh today. Fortunately, PMO leaders are finally starting to catch on. Better late than never, as they say!


JB Manas - website photo.jpg

Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn

Resource Management Success Factors: Benchmarks Are Consistent

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I recently rediscovered this insightful paper from noted consultant and trainer Kent Crawford on PMOs and Resource Management. Titled "Mastering Resource Management: The PMO's Role", the paper was originally presented at the PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida in 2009.

I found it remarkable how consistent the findings were with two benchmark studies I provided analysis on back in 2014 and 2016, both conducted by Appleseed Partners.

Three major findings fuel the paper:

  • A strong correlation between resource management maturity and organizational performance
  • A strong correlation between an effective PMO and resource management maturity
  • A strong correlation between project portfolio management maturity and resource management maturity

None of this is surprising, but it's helpful to see it validated.

Despite, the encouraging news, according to a 2009 Center for Business Practices benchmark study on Resource Management Challenges, resource management maturity was deemed low in nearly three-quarters of organizations studied. Resource planning and estimating were particular challenges. Crawford also reported "a significant disconnect between decision makers" regarding whether there were enough resources for all projects. Usually, there weren't.

However, the paper also has good news. For the organizations who improved their resource management practices, overall organizational performance also improved. So there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Regarding Project Portfolio Management (PPM), a key enabler, Crawford states, "When used effectively, PPM ensures that projects are aligned with corporate priorities and optimizes resource allocation." With that foundation, Crawford says, business assumptions about people, costs, and time can be validated, and cross-functional resource conflicts or synergies can be highlighted and addressed. And who better to drive all this than the PMO?

As for a strong PMO, Crawford highlights three particular PMO roles as being beneficial to resource management: that of a resource evaluator, a competency center, and a project management consulting center. Regarding the latter, Crawford states, "Establishing the PMO as an organizational home for project management expertise helps to surface existing skills in project management and related specialties that are presently diffused across the organization."

In its closing summary, the paper offers a set of resource management best practices, compiled by project management leaders from dozens of Fortune 1000 companies who gathered in 2009 to benchmark their resource management practices.

For anyone implementing resource management, the paper is definitely worth a read.


JB Manas - website photo.jpg

Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn