Resource Management - What do I need to know?

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I’m finding a majority of organisations tell me they want ‘resource management’, but when I ask what this means I get really narrow replies.

It seems that resource management (to many) involves line managers maintaining a spreadsheet of where their people are allocated between competing projects, simply because a line manager has to do something to track where his / her people are deployed.

There seems patchy appreciation of the wider organisational context, mainly because I think this is the way organisations have grown, and become comfortable / stuck (delete as appropriate) in this management intensive way of doing things.

However, resource management is a BIG subject, which I believe should be thought of as an organisation wide capability to operate, not as something to load onto line managers and then forget about. 

There are many issues that impact or are impacted by resource management:

  • Organisation structure – what is it, and does it permit effective use of resources?
  • Portfolio item identification, estimation, prioritisation and start-up – is this actually done? Surely if we know what (roughly) is coming, we can make provision for resources when it lands on us? Moreover, when we are making the call to send Johnny to ‘Project A’ or ‘Business as usual Task B’, how do we make the priority call?
  • Planning – do we do it, and will this give rise to a good and complete picture of current and future work?
  • Estimation of resources required – are we any good at it?
  • Allocation – how do we define which real people are to do which emerging work, and how do we track what was allocated vs. what becomes required?
  • People – do we know their skills and abilities, and are we developing people in line with any kind of roadmap?
  • Talking – are we effectively able to communicate to people what we want them to do?
  • Actuals – do we have any way of knowing what has been done vs. what was planned?

In summary what I find is:

  • Organisation Structure is a limiting factor to what is possible;
  • Portfolio management will define how effective any other measures to manage resource will be;
  • BAU and Change Projects need balancing, and this is not always possible
  • Planning ideally needs common consistent tools on a database
  • Capabilities, Support roles and Controls need to be defined, operated and governed
  • Implementation is a change programme – from the simple first step to the richest process necessary to realise the vision
  • Stakeholders are not engaged in the change process so the problem never gets solved
  • It is too easy to end up treating symptoms – because dealing with the underlying problem is too difficult

    More thoughts here: Resource Management – What do I need to know?

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Posted by David Dunning on 12th May 2011

About the Author
David Dunning is a member of the Portfolio Management SIG and has provided presentations around the subject of Portfolio Management for Thames Valley and South West / Wales APM Chapters.

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