When you have to pay for internal or external resources, the costs can soon mount up. It’s not difficult to find yourself with spiralling resource costs, even if they are just wooden dollars being moved between departments.
The most likely causes are poor estimating and too many change requests.
It’s often hard to drill down into the detail of where a resource is spending time, especially if you don’t have a timesheet application. If you don’t record time, then start doing that first! It will really help you improve your estimates over the longer term.
Short term, you need to sit down with your team and reforecast the whole project. If you then can’t afford to do all the work that you’ve planned out, you need a frank conversation with your project sponsor about what can be taken out of scope for this phase.
This video explains more.
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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:
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!
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.
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.
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:
And that is the end of the Project Resource Management Knowledge Area!
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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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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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