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Topics: Organizational Project Management
How do you efficiently request resources for your projects in a matrix organization?
And most importantly, what is the course of action when Line Managers come back with a “All my resources are fully allocated in other projects”.
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I'd say that since the project and its deemed prioritization is set at a higher level, go through that route to help get the allocation needed. You can identify the team member needs, then present that information to your sponsor to aid in the allocation.
Eduard -

As Andrew has indicated, resource allocation in matrix or functional organizations should be primarily driven by business priority but often it is influenced by the quality of the relationship you have with the functional managers.

There are many good practices to reduce the risk of resource allocation including:

- Confirming the relative priority of your project
- Providing as much lead time as possible for functional managers to provide or source the necessary resources
- Requesting resources by skill rather than by name
- Leveraging influence & persuasion to get the right resources rather than just any resources
- Always positioning resource needs in terms of the impacts if the right resources aren't made available in the right time

It can be hard, specifically when you as a PM has not any other source of power like being a functional manager. You need to make sponsors ask them and have all stakeholders engage and involve in the project. Moreover, communicating the values of the project is a key.
Thank you for the good tips and suggestions, they are greatly appreciate it. Do you recommend a usage of a Resource Commitment Form, by which Line Managers agree to provide the requested resources?
Ideally, there would be a system in place for the request, approval, and allocation of individuals to project teams. So, yes. There should be an official ‘ledger ‘ of some sort.
Eduard -

An alternative to a formal request form, is getting the functional managers to participate in, review and approve the resource allocation plan and/or project schedule.

Involving the functional manager in the evaluation on ressource needed could be a great way to get involvement and let the person evaluate the importance, urgency and full context.
I work in a projectised matrix organisation. It can be tough - especially as projects are measured on their potential contribution to the organisation's financial objectives.

I treat this as a risk from the very initiation of the project. And it is an on-going risk; there were a couple situations where I have had resources pulled off to staff a project with higher priority.

I can only mitigate this risk - and take steps to do so (have external/ contract resources primed, have junior resources shadow the project at no cost, etc.).
In a Matrix Organization the resources are held and reported upon by functional managers and it's a tricky affair to get these resources in time by the project manager for a certain period during project. Functional managers are very important stakeholders in a project and should be managed accordingly. Having a resource allocation chart agreed upon and signed by the functional managers is the first step. Project manager also has to be proactive in giving early warning and getting confirmation regarding timely availability of required resources from functional managers, so that the specific resource is not committed else where.
Hi Eduard,

Typically in a matrix organization, sharing of skilled resources between functional units and projects is higher. As communications are more transparent, knowledge sharing and collaboration is enhanced. Employees can broaden their skill sets by being a part of several projects. This creates a diverse pool of valuable resources that is available to help the project team when required.

In response to your second query, if resources are fully booked, line managers will have to apply leveling techniques, such as applying for an extension (but this can mean added costs which the client won't be happy about) or redrawing the critical path to recheck dependencies. This would work if it's just a question of freeing up a resource and delegating by reordering priorities.

I hope this info helps.
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