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

3 Ways to Track Schedule Performance [Video]

5 Essential Skills for Contract Managers

5 Tips for Better Decision Making [Infographic]

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

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.

Pin for later reading:

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

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 1)

Categories: resources

It’s time for another instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Following on from my look at the Procurement Management knowledge area (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I’m now taking a look Project Resource Management.

I got so many comments and messages saying that you found it helpful to have a breakdown of the major changes in the new version that I thought I’d do another Knowledge Area. You know that in this column I try to focus on things related to project budgeting, financial management and accounting. Resource management is an area that has a huge impact on the overall cost of a project. If you can use your resources effectively, you can get the most out of them – and I don’t mean making people work overtime because their workloads are so heavy. I mean making sure that you don’t have resources sitting around waiting for work, and equipment in a warehouse taking up space for weeks before you actually need.

As before, I have to thank the authors of a free pdf including Asad Naveed, Varun Anand and others, for their comprehensive guide to what is new in the latest version. I have my own electronic version of the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, and I’ve drawn on that too. However, I can recommend their 130-page guidance document as it is helpful for pointing out the headlines of where things are different.

Ready? Let’s dive into resource management and see how things in the project management world are different with this latest update.

We’re starting with the first process: Plan Resource Management

The headlines are:

  • The name of this process has changed, as might be immediately apparent if you’ve memorised the process names. It’s no longer Plan Human Resource Management but Plan Resource Management.
  • Other changes are much in line with what we’ve seen in other processes – making the process broader and relying more on professional judgement for exactly what needs to be included.
  • There’s one very interesting new output – more on that in a moment.

Plan Resource Management Process

This is the first process in the Knowledge Area. We’re in the Planning process group (as if you couldn’t work that out!).

Inputs

There’s nothing major changed for the inputs to this process although Activity resource requirements has been dropped. I think this is to do with the fact the whole process seems to be more aligned to not simply dealing with people any longer. By dropping the ‘Human’ from the Knowledge Area name, you can use the same processes to deal with other types of resources. And you might not need activity resource estimates in the same way for those. Having said that, we’ll see more about activity resource estimates next time. Watch this space…

The two new inputs are:

Project Charter: No real surprise there as this should include any pre-approved financial resources (i.e. budget) and a list of key stakeholders who are likely to be your main (human) resources.

Project documents: Again, this vague input turns up here. Project documents could include your schedule, from which you can derive what is needed when, requirements documentation, which also helps you determine what skills and resources you need, the stakeholder register for your people planning and the risk register.

Tools and Techniques

Organisation charts and position descriptions are out. I quite liked having org charts to rely on, but I can see that they aren’t the most brilliant source of information about people. Especially as now so many teams are flatter or self-organising. I would still recommend having an org chart for your project team though.

Read next: How to create a project organisation chart

Networking is also out. That tells me that the whole process is losing the ‘human’ element and focusing more on being about generic resources, which may or may not include people.

That’s evident in what has been brought in as well.

Data representation is the new technique. It’s a nice vague term but it includes things like:

  • Hierarchical charts – all the breakdown structures (work breakdown, organisational breakdown, resource breakdown)
  • Matrices – RACI would be a good one to include in here because it relates to what people are doing on the project and ties in neatly with resource planning and management.
  • Pretty much anything else you want to include. Even writing things down in long blocks of text is a representation of data (not a very interesting one, but it could be interpreted that way).

Outputs

So what is that output I thought was so interesting?

It’s a Team Charter.

Team Charters are the kind of thing you do as an icebreaker exercise with a new project team. They talk about the values for the team, ground rules, agreements and guidelines for how you are going to work together such as any standards for communication.

The PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition says your Team Charter could also cover conflict resolution processes, meeting guidelines and decision making criteria. In other words, your Charter can become the guidebook for social interaction on the team.

The Human Resource Management Plan output has been renamed as Resource Management Plan, in line with the rest of the process.

Finally, project documents updates is a new output. We’ve seen this in other processes too. Depending on what you update, the project document updates we are talking about cold include the assumption log and risk register, but could in reality be any number of documents that get an update once you have done your resource planning.

That’s the end of this process. The Knowledge Area has a whopping 6 processes, so next time I’ll take a look at Estimate Activity Resources. Doesn’t sound familiar? It’s new to Project Resource Management. See you next time!

Posted on: May 29, 2018 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

The Different Types of Project Resources [Video]

Categories: resources, video

In this video I talk about the different types of project resources that you'll encounter on your project. 'Resources' isn't just an unfriendly way to talk about people!
Posted on: April 26, 2017 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tips For Effective Resource Management From #PMICongress

Categories: resources

Dan Lefsky quote

“Far too often we see highly skilled team members deployed to the wrong projects,” said Dan Lefsky at PMI Global Congress EMEA in Barcelona. He gave an interesting presentation about resource management and here are my takeaways.

Uncover the Unspoken Calendar

The resource calendar on your project management tool probably has all the national holidays built in, but what about the unspoken dates? Lefsky explained that events like the World Cup (in any sport), the concept of siesta and other cultural events can totally throw out your work schedule. I’ve seen this first hand in a company that installed additional TVs so that workers could keep one eye on the football when they were in the office.

He also gave the example of August in France as a time when most things close down. You’d be hard pressed to get project team members to do additional hours (or any hours) when the country goes on holiday. I’ve seen that first hand too, as has he, as he currently lives in Paris where I used to live.

Manage Resource Risk

Not all resources work out. Lefsky explained that you should know the failure rates of your resources.

Another resource risk is that of availability. Have you really scheduled them at 100%? Don’t make that error. Even scheduling at 80% can be optimistic if they have day jobs and it gets even worse if their daily responsibilities change during the life of a project. Suddenly a key resource is being pulled on to other tasks and there’s nothing you can do about it. So plan for that risk if you can.

He also suggested taking into account strikes and other labour events, or at least being aware that they could present a risk to your project. They have certainly affected me when in worked in France and affected colleagues in other countries.

Finally, the weather can present a resource risk. In these days of virtual working you might be surprised that projects and businesses can grind to a halt when there’s a bit of snow, but often work does involve someone or some equipment travelling somewhere at some time. If that coincides with a weather event then you can quickly fall behind your baselined schedule.

Manage Demand

Lefsky said that it’s important to start looking at demand management. Look at what is coming into the project pipeline and what is likely to be approved, alongside what has been currently approved and what has been approved but is not yet started.

Putting this in your model can help you longer term. You are building out solid teams who want to come to work, and you can do that more effectively if you know what projects are coming up. “Ultimately,” he said, “you are building teams who need to deliver.”

Demand management is all about looking at the strategic alignment between resource acquisition and getting them into the right place at the right time.

He talked about having an enterprise resource pool with both named and generic resources to help identify the skills available and match them to upcoming demand.

Be Best In Class

Or at least understand what best in class looks like. Lefsky explained that best in class resource management functions have these features:

  • Notifications and alerts
  • Staffing algorithms
  • Diversified data collection
  • Real-time metrics.

With all of this information you can start to build economic models based on variables that help you identify what your resource needs will be in an economy with weak growth, strong growth or somewhere in between.

“A big piece of this is trying to move the process along more quickly without being able to change the structure of the organisation,” he said.

That’s an understatement! It’s fine to start with some of his simpler ideas, but getting to the economic models part is going to take some organisational commitment at a senior level.

Either way, it was an interesting and useful presentation that explained how teams can be more effective at managing their resources and the resource demand.

What are your current challenges with resources? Does anything here help you start to address them? Let us know in the blog comments.

Posted on: June 03, 2016 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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