This is part two of our series on Resource Management skills and best practices.
In part one, “Learning to Crawl,” we helped you determine if resource management is right for your team or organization. Now to start building – it’s time to gather the appropriate data your resource management practice will build upon. While this may be a tedious process, it is a crucial step in ensuring that you have the foundational building blocks needed to implement a successful resource management solution.
Following are nine critical datasets to provide resourcing recommendations and enhance your project management skills. Remember, it is an iterative process but accuracy and completeness are key here. The more accurate and complete the compiled information, the better your resource management practice will run.
1. Get to know your team.
This may sound ridiculous, but you really need to take the time to know your team. Learn about their individual strengths and weaknesses? What are the idiosyncrasies of their personalities that influence how they work? How do they handle stress? Are they good at multi-tasking or do they become overwhelmed with too many assignments? Do they play well with others or do they work best on their own? Asking these questions will provide you with your resources’ soft skills. Soft skills are just as important in aligning appropriate resources to projects as harder, technical skills. In fact, it can be the determining factor of how effectively a project team performs. Invest the time in learning your team.
2. Capture the current demand.
The goal here is to understand everything that your team is currently working on and the remaining duration of that effort. Identification at a team level typically doesn’t work as each team member may be working on different aspects of a single project. This data set is a living, breathing unit. You will need daily or weekly updates, depending on fast your environment changes, in order to ensure that everything is captured accurately. Ultimately, if you don’t know what is currently absorbing your team’s capacity, how will know their availability?
3. Identify pipeline and forecasted efforts.
To create a full picture, you will need to identify what projects are currently in the pipeline waiting for launch and what projects are hanging out in the forecast. While gathering this list, do your best to obtain accurate probability of fruition, scale of effort, and high-level requirements. This data set may not need to be updated as frequently as your current demand data but don’t let it sit idle for too long as projects may be added or drop from the list frequently.
4. Learn your project flow.
While each project is different, you can typically start to see the pattern of ebb and flow of actual work, and how long each high and low period last. Take some time to study this pattern and learn the impact of each project phase to your resources. Understanding this fluid pattern will allow you to strategically move resources between projects, maximizing efficiency.
5. Gather estimated efforts for project assignments.
For the resource management iterative process to work, you need to be able to estimate how much engaged, working time will be required for a project request. Without knowing how much time a resource will be dedicated to a project, it is very difficult to provide resourcing recommendations. How broad or granular you want to go on gathering efforts is up to you and how your team operates. However, I typically recommend that you go somewhere in the middle. I find trying to estimate the overall effort for an entire project never works. Going down to task level is too complicated and quickly becomes overwhelming. So, go somewhere in between. If your projects deliver in phases, how much effort is required for a resource for each phase? If the work doesn’t really lend itself to phases, where is the ebb and flow? Regardless of the level of detail you gather, do your absolute best to ensure that the estimates are as accurate as possible.
6. Identify project roles.
Project roles tend to be the first category that you filter on when mapping possible project resource assignments. These should be generic roles assigned to an individual project and not job titles assigned to resources. As an example, your project may need a Project Manager, Developer, Subject Matter Expert (SME) and a QA Technician. These are temporary roles that can be filled by any resources and terminate once the project completes.
7. Identify resource skills.
Please do not go crazy here! You want to go as high-level as you can while still being able to identify an appropriate resource for a project. Developer would be too broad of a category and usually refers to a role within a project. However, a Java Developer, or a C++ Developer is enough to classify skilled resources. To identify level of expertise, consider using a skill level.
8. Identify skill levels.
Skill level is completely different than an assigned skill. A skill level is a ranking system, within the assigned skill, that allows you to differentiate beginners from experts. Your skill may be Java Developer and the ranking (an attribute) for that skill would be 1-4 indicating beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert levels. Administration is greatly reduced by keeping your skill level as an attribute within the main skill rather than breaking out each level as an individual skill assigned to resources.
9. Gather additional resource factors that impact projects.
Is your resource fluent in a foreign language? Where are your resources located? Is there any scheduled PTO or holiday times that you need to work around? Do your customers have regulatory or security requirements that must be met? Each of these factors impact project assignments. Gathering and maintaining this information for each resource will be key to accurate project assignments.
Time Well Spent
Yes, foraging for and gathering this amount of information is time consuming and occasionally difficult. However, it is well worth your efforts. If you take the time now to gather accurate data in a manner that can be consistently monitored and managed, you will be well on your way to creating a sound foundation that is the centerpiece of your resource management practice.
Stay tuned for our article on the next step in the resource management process, Resource Management: From Crawling to Walking. In the meantime, check out PMI’s article on Mastering Resource Management for some additional learning.
Contact Kolme Group to find out more about our Project Management Services, please email us at PPManswers@KolmeGroup.com.