Mobilisation ensures that the project, programme or portfolio has appropriate organisational and technical infrastructures and mechanisms for putting resources in place.
Initial mobilisation may be performed during the concept and definition phases of a project or programme. This will establish sufficient infrastructure to complete the two initial phases. Full mobilisation will start once approval is given to proceed with the work.
In the portfolio dimension it is simply the decision to operate formal portfolio management that authorises the creation of a suitable infrastructure.
The infrastructure can comprise any of the following:
- the P3 management organisation;
- IT and telecoms;
- plant and machinery;
- internal and external resources;
The core management organisation is put in place to execute the concept and definition phases of a project or programme. The management organisation is designed during the definition phase and, after approval, the various posts are appointed.
In most cases, the project, programme or portfolio management teams will be located in existing premises. Project management teams should be co-located whenever possible to improve communication and teamwork.
Where it is a large undertaking, or work will be performed by multiple companies in partnership, there will be a case for securing separate premises to provide sufficient space and security of tenure for the duration of the work. Industries such as construction and heavy engineering always need temporary accommodation on site.
The P3 management team may be located within an existing infrastructure, but still have special requirements, e.g. for IT and telecoms. Other examples range from the acquisition of P3 management software to teleconferencing facilities for international, virtual teams.
Because of the temporary nature of projects and programmes, mobilisation will always be followed by demobilisation once the work is complete. This is particularly relevant where capital investment in plant and machinery is needed. Decisions must be made whether to buy, with resale in mind, lease or rent.
The mobilisation of external resources is covered by the provider selection and management process.
Acquiring internal resources often involves a difficult negotiation process. In a matrix organisation, for example, resources may retain their departmental or functional home as well as having a role in a project. The P3 manager may experience conflict with departmental demands when trying to allocate these resources. The decision must then be made whether to rely on informal relationships with departmental managers to gain access to the necessary resources, or whether more formal service-level agreements are needed.
The governance infrastructure covers the establishment of procedures (as laid down in the various management plans) and functions such as P3 assurance and quality assurance.
Projects can range from small internal pieces of work with little or no mobilisation requirement, to major capital projects that may involve acquiring and equipping management premises and production facilities.
The work done to mobilise a major project must be complemented by equal attention to demobilisation. Towards the end of the project, plans must be drawn up to dispose of assets, redeploy staff and possibly reinstate premises to their pre-project condition.
In mobilising for a programme, the programme management team must consider the needs of the component projects. While the programme management team and its infrastructure will be in place for the duration of the programme, projects will be mobilised and demobilised during the course of the programme life cycle.
The programme management team must consider the impact of the programme schedule on the infrastructure requirements. Some options for the way the tranches of work are structured may have a significant impact on the infrastructure costs. The ability to share the costs of mobilisation across multiple projects must be weighed against the impact on benefits and the business case.
Unlike projects and programmes, the portfolio organisation will have a more permanent basis, although the portfolio may go through multiple planning cycles and be reshaped according to the needs of the latest strategic plan. Therefore, portfolio mobilisation is a one-off project that sets up the infrastructure required to coordinate projects and programmes through multiple strategic cycles.
A committed and robust portfolio infrastructure forms the basis for an organisation to become increasingly mature in its ability to deliver projects and programmes. It may be set up to include permanent organisational structures as, for example, the creation of an enterprise project management office to provide support at all levels. There may also be communities of practice to support the continual improvement of individual competence, or professional development programmes to encourage professionalism.
The mobilisation of a portfolio requires board-level support to ensure that it is done thoroughly from the start. Only then will the portfolio infrastructure be embedded in the organisation as the preferred way of delivering projects and programmes.