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Resource management? I've got Excel and half a day a week thank you. What else do I need?

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There is a perception in some quarters that resource management is either what you do in SAP or is what line managers do in Excel to keep track of what their folks are up to – that it is either ‘local’ or ‘macro’ – but the two perspectives are too difficult to join together.

However, effective resource management is the steel frame of the portfolio management building. If we are to realise the benefits of doing the right things successfully, then we need to be able to join up the strategic and the tactical resource pictures. People say “we can’t plan with resources” – I respond “you can, but you just don’t”.

  • How much organisation structure is a limiting/enabling factor in successfully managing resources?
  • Is there a more effective approach to managing resources than managing demand?
  • Does prioritisation have to be a fight to balance BAU and Projects?
  • Why not make BAU and change planning use common consistent tools on a database?
  • Why is resource allocation not always a clear process?
  • Why don’t mature organisations understand their resource capabilities, support roles and controls?
  • Why do we under estimate the implementation of resource management as a technical project rather than a business change programme?
  • Can we not engage the right stakeholders at the right levels and deal with the underlying problems, not just the symptoms?

Is this really too difficult or can we, with the right vision and roadmap – devour the elephant after all? I say – put on the brave trousers and evangelise!

I’m at the Best Practice User Group (28 June, QE11 Centre, London) hosting a round table on this for those that want to chat more

Download the presentation slides.


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  1. Richard Adkins
    Richard Adkins 26 June 2012, 10:59 AM

    Why not use your project / protfolio planning toolset to do the resource management?Fully resource loaded plans allow for resource forecasting, smoothing and levelling of peaks. It allows for decision to be made for how to manage resource peaks and troughs. If you have a fully loaded resource dictationary for the business, with hourly rates for each type of resource (preferably using outturn rates), you can see the cost build up, see the change of resource demand across the project and hence portfolio as project progress (and slips/accelerates). All very useful, especially where scarce resources are employed, so they are effectively managed and utilised. Its also a great estimating tool for bidding for new projects too!Having worked in environment where we did all this managing a complex programme of projects withn the Aerospace industry, using a full EVM implementation, its amazes me how unjoined up other industries are when it comes to resource management within Projects and Programmes. Surely the project plan communicates the scope of the project over time, and hence can be used to show resources required over time too? Hence, as a function the cost?  To me this is just good Project Management, Project Control and Business Management? Too many industries seem to see the project plan and cost in isolation or silos. To join these up is seen as on the "too hard" list.

  2. Andy Reynolds
    Andy Reynolds 21 June 2012, 12:18 AM

    You can do without resource management if you have a pure tree-shaped org chart with small span of control and no collaboration between branches. I'm in an organisation that has only recently discovered that it needs to be matrixed to be efficient, but won't invest in a management information system that embraces all projects and all resources. The only way I could keep risks under control in project initiation was to set up resource groups, each headed by a person with a spreadsheet and half a day a week....

  3. Achilleas Mavrellis
    Achilleas Mavrellis 20 June 2012, 05:25 PM

    DavidThis got me thinking... assuming that portfolio management is the starting point for resource management, are you saying that resource management also drives portfolio management? is this perhaps a virtuous cycle?If the two go hand in hand, then they need integrated behaviours, processes and tools. If they're not integrated then it becomes difficult to maintain resource management.At Defra we've had both running simultaneously. Unfortunately there was no resource planning until recently, nothing to feed resource management. So we landed up with an inflexible staff resourcing system which could not respond to portfolio changes, but was otherwise great for staff wanting to move easily. Hopefully we're moving in a better direction now..