Let’s face it, we are all being asked to do more with less. Yet, most organizations do not take the proper resource planning steps for their IT departments. The result – misalignment with corporate or organization goals and IT becoming the bottleneck. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. According to a survey posted on ProjectManagement.com, 51% of organizations feel that resource allocation is their single biggest challenge. This is not a surprise, I have never come across an organization that has enough resources to manage their entire project demand. As markets evolve, customers change, and organizations pivot, it is impossible to forecast the number of requests that you may get throughout the year. These requests range from change orders, to infrastructure improvements, to new projects, all adding to your organization’s bottom line.
Although there is not a simple, quick fix solution, there are several steps that you can take. For example, an IT executive or IT management should be looking at the entire project portfolio while focusing on prioritizing requests and resourcing projects. By exercising Project Portfolio Management (PPM) on the organization as a whole, one is able to get a bird’s eye view on resource capacity and demand. This is valuable when you are trying to assess “what if” scenarios and make key strategic decisions. Typically, most organizations will ask the question: “What if I move Bob off of Project A, what will happen to the timeline of the project?” This may be the correct question to ask, but only provides limited value. What are you going to do with Bob? How will Bob affect his new project? A more strategic way of looking at your resource (Bob) would be to ask the following: “What if I move Bob from Project A to Project B? What will happen to both project timelines, Bob’s overall capacity, and the overall resource capacity for my organization? Will I have a better chance of hitting my demand?” By asking these questions and taking control of your entire portfolio, one is able to make better and more informed decisions – adding more value to your organization.
So how specifically will a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution help with your resource management challenges? A good PPM solution will assist in performing the following analysis:
Much like financial models depend on having good data, so does effective Resource Management. Starting off by understanding what the “true capacity” of your team is imperative. It is easy to say 40 hours per week per person, but this does not take into account holidays, administrative time, or out of office time (due to travel, sick days, customer engagements, etc). Although hard to measure, true capacity should also take into the type of resource (FT vs. PT), role (project manager vs. developer), skills, and experience. By understanding the availability and the profile of each resource, you can accurately analyze capacity.
Demand is best categorized as “true workload.” This means quantifying project workload and adding it to the overall operational workload. This is where many organizations stumble – underestimating the operational workload portion of the overall demand. More often than not, as managers we tend to focus on the “new” projects and marginalize the workload requirements for keeping the business running (operations).
Optimization is realized when capacity and demand is aligned, humming in tune. Your projects are in line with the organization’s strategy, your team is busy and not overcommitted, you are upholding commitments to the business, and you are able to point to how your team is adding value to the organization (i.e. working on that important project). Optimization needs to be looked at constantly as the variables (capacity and demand) change or evolve. Having tools that allow you to see different project scenarios and outcomes as you toggle, push out, or change resources and projects is vital. Creating these “what if” scenarios will help in further optimizing your resources and project portfolio – are your resources working on strategic projects that progress the company or stuck on maintenance or legacy type projects for soon to be end-of-life systems?
Resource management is a tough nut to crack and you will never have enough resources to keep up with your demand. At some point, you will have to say “no” to something and prove that your resources are working on the most important and strategic projects. The best way to handle saying “no” is with a stronger “yes.” A high quality Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution will enable yourself and your team to say stronger “yes’s” by seeing the entire project portfolio – not just individual project capacity and demand – and engaging in more strategic discussions about resource management.