In this instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, we’ve made it to the end of Project Resource Management. The only thing remaining to cover is trends and tailoring.
Trends and tailoring is a relatively short section for each Knowledge Area, but it is helpful because it reminds you that the book is only a guide. You can make it relevant to the way you work, your organisational culture and the needs of your team by tailoring the way you implement the processes.
So what’s it all about for resource management?
Trends and Emerging Practices
The big shift in resource management – although I’d argue this is hardly new and has been with us here in the UK at least for some considerable time – is the move away from the command and control structure of old. Collaboration and supportive management is in. Telling people what to do is out.
Because of the culture of businesses I have worked in, I find it hard to accept that this is worthy of mention as a trend, but I can’t speak for how things are in the rest of the world. Plus, I do know that despite businesses saying they are all modern and collaborative, when it comes to delegating decision making they tend to be a little bit more reticent.
There are some particular emerging practices called out.
The main guidance in the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition is to look at what is in operation in your business and manage your project in line with that. If your company has adopted Kaizen, just in time manufacturing, or any other management buzzwords for productivity and managing throughput of work, then you’ll need to make your project management practices fit around those.
Given that Anthony Mersino’s book on Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers came out in 2007 (and is now in its second edition), this again feels a little behind the curve. However, we are all a work in progress and it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that a team with good EI skills are more effective and benefit from a reduced staff turnover.
As more and more projects take on agile approaches, teams become self-organising. I like this way of working. I think that trusting people to get the job done is empowering and teams can be very effective this way.
However, as with all teams, I do think you need to keep an eye on how things are going to make sure that everyone is contributing and that the right things are being worked on.
Self-organising teams seem to work best when the work is generalist and the people are generalist i.e. they can serve multiple roles within the team to get the work done. You couldn’t have a self-organising surgical team, for example, but it can work with multi-skilled IT roles.
The personalities in the team are also important. You want people who can take feedback on board and flex to the ongoing needs of the team and the business. And they need to be able to provide feedback as well.
Virtual, or distributed teams are also not really a trend in my opinion. I remember speaking about the rise of virtual teams at a conference over a decade ago. Personally I don’t think it’s relevant to include them as a ‘trend’ but they are definitely a cause for tailoring your project approach. You need diffferent tools and techniques to get work done in a virtual enviornment.
Communications technology becomes even more important, as does trust. You need to work harder to build a sense of team and shared goals, because working virtually can feel lonely. Plus you have the practical concerns of time zone differences, culture and language.
Take all of the above into account when thinking of how you are going to make your own personal project managemetn of the team work. The PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition calls out several areas to consider:
- What is the background of the team in terms of diversity?
- Where are team members and physical resources located?
- What industry-specific resources are required?
- How are you going to get people to work on the team?
- Are team members part time or full time for the project?
- How are you going to develop the team and provide training, and how will the diverse needs of the team be met with regards to delivering training?
- What life cycle approach will the project use?
These are all good questiions to be asking yourself about how to manage project resources.
Agile/Adaptive Environment Considerations
Finally, the section on ‘making project resource management work for you’ ends with considerations for teams working in an agile or adaptive environment.
The PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition makes the point that if your project has high variability, you may be best served with a self-organising team of highly skilled and multi-skilled individuals who can work collaboratively. People who have worked in an agile environment for some time won’t see this as news, but it is a helpful reminder for businesses who are just starting out with adopting agile. If you don’t provide the environment for collaboration and productivity, you won’t get the benefits of being agile.
And there ends our tour of Project Resource Management in the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition!