Introduction to resource management

Definition

Resource management comprises the acquisition and deployment of the internal and external resources required to deliver the project, programme or portfolio.

General

The resources needed to deliver a project, programme or portfolio include people, machinery, materials, technology, property and anything else required to deliver the work. Resources may be obtained internally from the host organisation or procured from external sources.

The P3 manager must identify the resources required to deliver the work, as part of planning, and determine when the resources will be required, through scheduling.

The acquisition of external resources will normally be through a procurement process that involves provider selection. This results in a contract for the provision of goods and services. Once a contract is in place, the relationship between the project, programme or portfolio (the buyer) and the provider (the seller) needs to be managed to ensure that the work proceeds according to plan.

Where resources are acquired internally, there may be service-level agreements or terms of reference between the project, programme or portfolio and the department or function providing the resource.

Setting up the management infrastructure is called ‘mobilisation’. Projects and programmes are temporary organisations, whereas a portfolio may be permanent or semi-permanent. Therefore, while the infrastructure for managing a portfolio is mobilised once, project and programme infrastructures are mobilised and demobilised on a regular basis.

The policies and procedures to be used for acquiring and deploying resources will be set out in the resource management plan.

Project

Smaller projects will often be completely internal, drawing on the resources of the host organisation. While this means that the project manager may not need considerable expertise in formal procurement and contractual processes, there will be a need for negotiation and influencing skills to compete for the necessary resources. The project sponsor will have a key role to play in ensuring that the host organisation commits to providing the necessary internal resources.

Larger projects will often utilise a mixture of internal and external resources. The project manager may need support from procurement specialists who have expertise in provider selection and contract negotiations.

Programme

The projects and business-as-usual units within a programme will have varying resource needs. The programme manager sets out how the responsibility for managing resources will be shared between project and programme-level management, i.e. implementing an overall strategy while allowing projects to be managed without too much interference.

In preparing the resource management plan, the programme manager will need to consider factors such as:

  • How much of the infrastructure can be shared?
  • What opportunities are there for pan-programme procurement?
  • Are there any projects with very specialised resource requirements?
  • Can tranches be structured to make resource usage more efficient?

Resources are an important constraint that will greatly influence how the programme is structured. Programmes have a wide impact on an organisation through the need to implement change and realise benefits, as well as deliver project outputs. All these factors need to be investigated during the definition phase of a programme and the results widely communicated to stakeholders.

Portfolio

The portfolio infrastructure is usually permanent but not necessarily constant. In one strategic planning cycle the portfolio may be very extensive and in another it may be relatively modest. In the course of a planning cycle, the resource demands of a portfolio will vary according to the number of concurrent projects and programmes.

The acquisition and deployment of resources will be an on-going portfolio process in support of the definition and balancing phases of the portfolio life cycle.

 

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