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Project Portfolio Management

How Do You Conduct Resource Planning as a Savvy PMO?

Part 1: The right people doing the right work, at the right time

Published By Scott Townsend

Today’s enterprises are increasingly looking to the PMO to boost the bottom line. Inadequate resource planning practices make it difficult to quickly deliver innovative products, services, and customer experiences. “The risk of poor capacity is the inability to resource projects. We have a ‘need for speed’ and need the right resources at the right time in the life cycle of a project. It’s what we’re solving for to meet growth objectives.”

This quote, from one of Planview’s global Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) customers, characterizes the challenges and risks organizations face with resource planning. Without a proper focus on resource planning, what you get is project delays, lost revenue, low productivity, higher costs, increased employee turnover, and more. What’s the answer? In this blog series, we will guide you on steps to improve your resource planning, no matter how experienced you are in resource management and planning capacity for your organization’s projects, programs, and initiatives.

The Savvy PMO consistently assigns its people to the highest value work and rebalances roles, people, and team assignments to ensure strategic alignment. By following our five guidelines, PMOs, at every level, can enhance resource management, more quickly adapt to changing priorities and opportunities, and ultimately accelerate business growth.

The first two guidelines, covered in this blog, involve your people.

1. Focus on Your Key Resources First

It’s people first for the Savvy PMO. Understanding your employees’ contributions, skills, experience, availability, and potential is critical for enhancing resource planning. Yet, you don’t have to include everyone all at once. Follow these three steps to get started.

a. Gather your initial set of resources

Choose a few employees when formulating or assigning to teams. Your criteria could be those who are doing the highest value and most strategic work, for example, or those that tend to be overutilized. Then, you can begin your first set of projects and work. Once you figure out which processes and strategies work best, you can add more resources later.

b. Identify groups of roles and determine internal and billable rates

Set up roles based on your organization’s nomenclature: Architect, Project Manager, and Business Analyst, for example. Having both internal and billable rates helps in estimating costs and streamlining the process when roles are assigned to a project.

c. Assign resource skills profiles

This is where you include individual attributes, such as an employee’s previous experiences and special capabilities. The better you are at categorizing these elements, the easier your resource planning will be.

2. Assign and Allocate Resource Roles and Team Assignments

Once you’ve identified your initial set of resources and their roles and skills profiles, you are ready for the assignment stage. It’s important to stay flexible here based on different work methodologies, types of projects, and staffing requirements. The following steps will help you match the right work with the right people.

a. Planning Work

Multiple resource planning approaches help you assign staff based on the organization’s needs. Here are two to consider.

  • High-level Planning

Use this approach when you:

  • Know the roles needed but not necessarily the individuals
  • Must have role and resource assignments in place at the project level for further analysis and approval
  • May need to rely on others in the organization to complete staffing or acquire staffing approvals
  • Need to represent demand before having detailed project task work breakdown structures
  • Bottom-up, Task-level Planning

Use this approach when you:

  • Need low-level planning, possibly for detailed reporting or understanding CapEx vs OpEx
  • Have detailed task work breakdown structures and need to build demand off this information
  • Already have approvals, or don’t need to go through an approval process for allocating your resources
  • Have a detailed task plan and want to schedule resources to those tasks

b. Representing Work Effort

Once you’ve chosen your planning method, choose how you want to express demand: in Headcount (or Full-time Equivalents) or Effort. While one might be better than the other for certain projects, this is an area where most PMOs stay consistent.

  • Express demand in Headcount if you prefer to represent assignments as a percentage of the time the resource will be working. Some applications support profiling of effort at lower levels of granularity to account for different workloads across the life of the
  • Express demand in Effort if representing all your project resource work is more meaningful for your organization. For instance, a resource could be allocated to work 80 hours on a project, so you know exactly how much of their time is spent on that work.

c. Assigning the Work

The next step is to select your staffing strategy. Savvy PMOs choose one or a mix of the following:

  • Allow project managers to staff directly
  • Have resource managers perform staffing responsibilities
  • Employ a centralized management team with a formal request process

When choosing direct staffing, it’s important to communicate well and set up clear processes. Also, you might have different processes based on different resources. For example, a cross-functional role in high demand may require a more formal approval process to ensure work is properly assigned and prioritized.

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll cover the last three resource planning steps:

  1. Run Basic Analytics and Account for Financials
  2. Analyze Capacity and Demand
  3. Rebalance, Predict, and Strategize for the Future

For the details on all five steps, download the full eBook: “The Savvy PMO’s Guide to Resource Planning.”

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Written by Scott Townsend Sr. Product Manager

Scott Townsend has worked closely with customers at Planview for more than 14 years. After spending 6 years on the consulting side of Planview, he took this customer-driven focus to the Product Management group where he drives innovation to enhance the execution side of Planview Enterprise One. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from The University of Virginia and an MBA from The University of Texas.