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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts.

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5 Types of Project Cost [Infographic]

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 6: Control Resources)

3 Soft Project Benefits [Video]

The Estimating Life Cycle

3 More Ways to Track Schedule Performance [Video]

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 6: Control Resources)

Categories: resources

In this instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, we’ve made it to the sixth and final process in Project Resource Management (see here for Plan Resource Management, Estimate Activity Resources, Acquire Resources, Develop Team and Manage Team).

This is a brand new process. The old section on Resource Management focused purely on managing human resources, so this new process is a response to the fact that the Knowledge Area is now far broader and includes other types of resources.

Control Resources Process

This is the sixth process in the Knowledge Area. We’re in the Monitoring and Controlling process group.

This process is all about ensuring that resources are assigned to the project effectively and that they are used appropriately. That includes looking at actual utilisation of resources against what was planned and taking action as necessary to course correct should that be required.

Inputs

This is a new process, so all the inputs are new! And yet not new. They are things we have seen time and time again across all the other processes. Here we go:

Project management plan: This will include the resource management plan, which is your baseline statement of what resources will be required.

Project documents: this could include the issue log, lessons learned register, schedule, resource assignments (however you record them, in your software, for example), resource breakdown structure and resource requirements and risk register. All of these help you understand the reality of what is going on so you can take appropriate action.

Work performance data: for checking what has gone on. This could include timesheets, for example.

Agreements: this vague term means things like agreements for resources made with line managers of the people involved, agreements around overtime worked or extra hours needed.

Organisational process assets: these turn up all over the place. In this process, the OPAs could be policies around resource assignments and task allocation, the process for escalating issues when work doesn’t go as planned and lessons learned.

Tools and Techniques

As this is a new process, there is nothing to compare to.

Data analysis is in there as a technique. This broad term includes different ways of reviewing what the resource information and working out what might be needed. For example, performance reviews and cost benefit analysis.

Problem solving is another tool. This isn’t rocket science. If resourcing on your project isn’t going well you need to solve the problem.

You might need to do some negotiating and influencing to secure resources or work with your colleagues to resolve resource issues. Interpersonal and team skills are core to being able to monitor and resolve problems.

Finally, your project management information system is a tool to help. If you use your project management tools for timesheets or resource allocation, then you can see how this would be useful. You might be able to get resource allocation reports out of your software. Reports like utilisation, over/under resourcing could be very useful.

Outputs

Again, nothing to compare to as this is a new process. But it all makes sense. I’m not actually sure why this process is new. It feels like it should have been around for a long time.

There are four outputs:

  • Work performance information: information on how work is going so you can look back on what was planned.
  • Change requests: like many processes, once you’ve done it you might end up with a change request. That could be for a task to be allocated to another resource, to change the timescale of a task due to resource constraints or something similar.
  • Your project management plan: because you might need to make changes to the resource management plan, and baselines for cost and schedule.
  • Project document updates: this catch-all covers basically everything else. Whatever you need to update as a result of your monitoring and controlling activity, you can. For some clues around where to look, common documents that might need updating include the resource breakdown structure, resource assignments, risk and issue log and your assumptions log so you can track any new assumptions that you have had to make as a result of tweaking the work.

And that is the end of the Project Resource Management Knowledge Area!

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Posted on: October 17, 2018 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 5: Manage Team)

Categories: resources

In this instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, we’ve made it to the fifth process in Project Resource Management (see here for Plan Resource Management, Estimate Activity Resources, Acquire Resources and Develop Team). Today, it’s the turn of the penultimate process in this knowledge area: Manage Team.

This process name has changed from Manage Project Team.

Manage Team Process

This is the fifth process in the Knowledge Area. We’re still in the Executing process group.

This process is all about tracking performance of what people do, helping them out, giving feedback, switching in and out new people as required and generally looking after all the team-y things to keep the project moving in the right direction.

Inputs

Team performance assessments, work performance reports and OPAs are still in. Human resource management plan is replaced by project management plan.

Project staff assignments has gone, and so has the issue log. There are some new ones that replace these.

Project documents: Team assignments falls under this category. The team charter is also a document you might want to consider as an input. As we have seen before, other documents like the issue log and lessons learned register can give you useful information on the types of things to consider or that might go wrong, based on past experience.

Enterprise environmental factors: In particular, HR policies might be helpful here.

Tools and Techniques

This section feels like it has been streamlined. Perhaps that’s because this process only deals with the people involved in the project. Other processes in this Knowledge Area talk about the non-people resources too, but this one is just about the team.

Observation and conversation, interpersonal skills and conflict management have been replaced by the general technique of interpersonal and team skills. This is far broader and can include other skills like negotiating and influencing.

Project performance appraisals, which related to progress updates and status reporting, etc, has been replaced by project management information system. There is information in the PMIS that will help you schedule the work, reassign tasks to the right person, deal with late work and so on.

Outputs

There is not much change in the outputs.

In fact, the only thing that is different is that organisational process asset updates has been removed. Given that this appears almost everywhere, I think it’s strange that it has been taken out here. Why could you not have uncovered something important that would change a policy or process, during your work managing the team? Anyway, it is no longer in, so watch out for that.

As you can see, there hasn’t been much change to this particular process. There is still one more process to go in this Knowledge Area, so next time I will be looking at the final process, Control Resources.

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Posted on: September 11, 2018 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 4: Develop Team)

Categories: resources

Phew, Project Resource Management has a lot of processes. We are over halfway now. I’m looking at What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Last month I took my third look at Project Resource Management (see here for Plan Resource Management, Estimate Activity Resources and Acquire Resources). Today, it’s the turn of the fourth process in this knowledge area: Develop Team.

This process name has changed from Develop Project Team.

Develop Team Process

This is the fourth process in the Knowledge Area. We’re still in the Executing process group.

This process is where you help your team gain the skills they need both to do their jobs on the project and also to become skilled at whatever it is that they would like to do to develop their career.

This is a bit of a strange one, because generally project managers don’t have a budget for staff training unless it specifically relates to something that is crucial for the project. However, we should all approach projects as learning opportunities.

Inputs

All the inputs have been updated.

Human resource management plan is replaced by project management plan.

Project staff assignments has gone, as has resource calendars. Additionally, we have:

Project documents: This appears again – it’s fast becoming the ‘go to’ answer for what is an input to a process when you don’t know what else to say. Resource calendars and project team assignments fit in here, along with things like the team charter and project schedule.

Enterprise environmental factors.

Organisational process assets.

Tools and Techniques

Goodbye team building activities and ground rules. These were my favourite things about developing people, but I confess to not actually having achieved them on many projects.

In PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, we have 8 tools and techniques for this process. Colocation, recognition and rewards, training (duh) stay the same.

New T&T are:

Virtual teams: I guess this is a technique? I can’t see how by virtue of having a virtual team you are developing individuals to improve their skills. Perhaps it’s to do with not having to train them in the first place – by using remote resources you can tap into a greater resource pool. I’m not sure about this one.

Communication technology: One of my favourite subjects! Watch my recent webinar on collaboration tools for project managers (yes, you get PDUs).

Meetings: Perhaps they were struggling a bit as to what to put in this knowledge area. You can have a meeting to discuss what team development is required. I suppose some meetings may be considered team building, if you use ‘meeting’ to mean ‘get people together for some purpose’.

Amended T&T are:

Interpersonal skills is now interpersonal and team skills, just in case you were wondering if developing a team needed any team skills. All the stuff you would expect is wrapped up in here: conflict management, influencing, motivation, negotiating and because it now extends to ‘team skills’ you can drop in team building too.

Personal assessment tools is now individual and team assessments. These are the tools that you use to help assess personal strengths and weaknesses. There are assessments I have done on the strength of my team as well, so that’s the kind of thing you would expect in here. Consider tools like surveys, interviews, team discussions, tests of ability e.g. for new starters during the interview process etc.

Outputs

There are 4 new outputs.

Team performance assessments and enterprise environmental factors updates stay the same.

Change requests: You may need to make changes to other areas of the project based on what has happened during this process. If so, go through the change control process as normal.

Project management plan updates: Because something in the resource management plan might need updating.

Project documents updates: Other documents might need updating as a result of you planning or doing development work with the team. For example, if someone now has a new skill, you can update their resource assignments because they can take on new tasks.

Organisational process assets updates: You might want to tell the managers of the individuals who have new skills so that they can update their logs. It’s small things that feel like common sense to me. For example, if the manager had a note that the individual needed to go on a leadership course, and they do that as part of the project, the manager can cross that off the list of her team’s training requirements.

And we’re at the end of this process, but not the Knowledge Area. We still have two more processes to cover, so next time it will be the turn of Manage Team.

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Posted on: August 03, 2018 05:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 3: Acquire Resources)

Categories: resources

Hello again, and welcome to another column in what has now become established as a regular-ish feature on The Money Files blog: What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Last month I took my second look at Project Resource Management (read Part 1 here and Part 2, on Estimate Activity Resources here). Today, it’s the turn of the third process in this knowledge area: Acquire Resources.

The name of this process is slightly different to what you might remember from the last version. Previously, the process was Acquire Project Team. I think the updated name is better, not because it’s cool to refer to people as ‘resources’ (it’s not) but because it is a broader description of the resources required to run a project.

‘Resources’ can include equipment, and even the budget. And as we are using it to refer to people, it can also mean getting the support and buy in of people who aren’t directly on the core team.

Acquire Resources Process

This is the third process in the Knowledge Area. We’re now in the Executing process group.

This process is where you get what you need to do the project, be that people, supplies, equipment, facilities, a temporary office or whatever.

Inputs

There are two new inputs, which are:

Project management plan: This simply replaces the ‘human resource management plan’ that was in the last version. As with a lot of these changes, they have made the inputs broader. Instead of referencing the particular pages within the project management plan, the reference is to the whole thing.

This makes a lot more sense to me because it’s clearer that the project management plan is one document with sub-sections and not lots of documentation (although it could be… tailoring, right?). Also, there might be other sections of the plan that are useful for securing resources including the procurement management plan (as you don’t want to go over budget) and the resource management plan.

Project documents: Again we see this vague input here. It could basically cover anything but most likely you’ll be thinking about:

  • The project schedule, so you can plan when resources are required
  • Resource calendars, which make more sense here than in the previous process. You can’t secure resources if they are off on long term sick leave or have planned maternity leave just at the point you need them.
  • Resource requirements, which will be documented somewhere and relate to what you need – you can’t acquire what you don’t know about
  • Stakeholder register.

You can also include other documentation as required, like the assumptions log – there might be things in here relating to how tasks need to be carried out.

Tools and Techniques

There are 4 tools and techniques for this process. Negotiation, acquisition and multi-criteria decision analysis have been removed. That leaves us with pre-assignment and virtual teams.

The two new ones are:

Technique: Decision making. Multi-criteria decision analysis is something that fits into the broader category of decision making, so it hasn’t really disappeared, just been ‘rolled up’. Personally I find it strange to consider decision making something to be used specifically here. Don’t we make decisions all the time? You probably do multi-criteria decision analysis every single day without calling it that. It’s just part of the job.

In case you aren’t sure what it means, it’s taking lots of factors into account when making a decision. For resource allocation, this could include:

  • Availability of the resource
  • How much it costs
  • Whether the person has the right skills and experience
  • Whether the person has the right attitude and temperament for the project
  • The location of the resource and whether it (or they) can be transported to the project’s location as required, or whether it (or they) can be used virtually.

Technique: Interpersonal and team skills. Negotiation is something that fits into the broader category of interpersonal skills, so that hasn’t really disappeared either. You may have to negotiate to get the resources that you need.

Outputs

The outputs to this process have changed quite a lot, but there’s nothing surprising here. Project staff assignments have dropped out. That leaves resource calendars and project management plan updates, plus some new ones.

We have:

Physical resource assignments: these relate to the non-people resources that you need for the project.

Project team assignments: these relate to the people that you need for the project. You should also document what those people are going to do e.g. roles and responsibilities.

Change requests: I don’t know why this doesn’t appear more frequently. Carrying out any process may result in something changing. Perhaps the specific reference here relates to the fact that when you are trying to book resources, you’ll often find you can’t have who you want when you want and that may change the schedule.

Project documents updates: Lots of documents might get updated as a result of this process. As a prompt, some are listed in the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition including the lessons learned register, the project schedule, the resource breakdown structure, resource calendars, the risk register and the stakeholder register. Update whatever you think needs updating.

Enterprise environmental factors updates: There might be some need to update enterprise information for some reason, perhaps if you have a central resource pool, for example.

Organisational process assets updates: There might be some incredible insight you’ve gained through securing resources for this project that means you have to change the way the whole organisation deals with resource management and results in you updating OPAs.

That’s the end of this process. The Knowledge Area has 3 more processes to work through, so next time I’ll take a look at Develop Team.

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Posted on: July 10, 2018 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 2)

Categories: resources

Hello again, and welcome to another column in what has now become a regular-ish feature: What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Last month I took my first look at Project Resource Management (read Part 1 here). Now it’s the turn of the second process in this knowledge area: Estimate Activity Resources.

Does this process name seem familiar?

If it does, it’s probably because you would have come across this topic previously in the Time Management knowledge area. In the new updated Guide, Estimate Activity Resources has been moved to Project Resource Management.

Estimate Activity Resources Process

This is the first process in the Knowledge Area. We’re still in the Planning process group.

This process is where you work out what resources you need to deliver the tasks you have to get done.

Inputs

There are two new inputs, which are:

Project Charter: Project management plan. That makes sense, doesn’t it? The project management plan contains the sub-plans that can be helpful for working out how long activities are going to take. The resource management plan and the scope baseline in particular will give you information for your task estimating.

Project documents: The vaguest of inputs is now used in this process as well. It covers a range of possible documentation including:

  • The activity list (because otherwise you wouldn’t know what you were trying to estimate for)
  • Activity attributes
  • The assumptions log – there might be things in here relating to how tasks need to be carried out
  • Cost estimates
  • Resource calendars, although I’m not 100% clear why. At this point you are only estimating how much time an activity will take, not allocating a person to it. Tell me if I have got that wrong. As the next process is to acquire the team, I’m not sure that you’ll get a lot of useful information out of resource calendars as you don’t know who is on the team yet. Anyway, for the people you already know will be allocated to this project, including yourself, there could be some value in looking at resource calendars at this point.
  • The risk register – there might be some risks relating to resourcing or the approach to tasks that will help you establish how long the work will take.

Tools and Techniques

There are 7 tools and techniques for this process. Expert judgement and bottom-up estimating came from the old version of the process. These are the new tools and techniques:

Technique: Analogous estimating. Watch a quick video on what analogous estimating is.

Technique: Parametric estimating. Watch a quick video on parametric estimating.

Technique: Data analysis. This actually covers a range of techniques and different ways of doing data analysis including looking at the resource capability and skills of individuals, considering different option for tools such as whether the project would be best served with a manual or automated tools, and make or buy decisions. Here’s a video on the 5 steps for a make or buy analysis.

Tool: Project management information system. This was just known as the project management system in the last version.

Tool: Meetings. Are these a tool or a technique? I think they are a tool. When you are working out how much effort it takes to do a certain activity, you’re going to have a lot of meetings. This is time where you’ll talk about the level of effort involved, the quantity of materials or resources needed, and of course come up with the actual estimates themselves which is the whole point of this process.

Outputs

There are two new outputs, and they are the obvious ones.

Resource requirements are what you get when you work out how much effort an activity is going to take. These can be prepared in various forms like a list of dates a resource has to be available for, a person spec, a table of types of role and then % availability for a period of time, and so on.

This output was called Activity Resource Requirements in the previous version. I imagine it was changed to make it broader, as the whole focus on this area has now moved to more clearly encompass types of resources that are not people.

Second, we have basis of estimates. This is the background and the ‘workings’ that show how you got to your resource requirements. You may have a lot of detail here, like all the calculations for your detailed estimating, and methodologies. Or you may have basically just guessed like a lot of us do, drawing on your past experience.

In which case, you’ll be noting down assumptions and confidence levels, but there won’t be much in the way of calculations!

However you have arrived at your estimates, it will be good to consider the risks identified that influence the success or otherwise of the estimate. Stick these on your risk log so your resource risks can be tracked along with everything else.

That’s the end of this process. The Knowledge Area has 4 more processes to work through, so next time I’ll take a look at Acquire Resources.

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Posted on: June 18, 2018 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)
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