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The 3 most important PPM questions to best align people with projects and improve business decisions


Jason Waugh photo.PNGBy Jason Waugh


Jason Waugh is a Lead Solution Consultant for HP Software Professional Services, focusing on project portfolio management implementation strategies and best practices. 


How do you make the best use of the people in your organization? It may sound like a simple question, but as businesses strive to become as agile as possible, it takes on more urgency. Customers often ask me, “How do we know if we have enough people to do all our projects? When we don't, how do we shift things around?” The biggest hurdle these customers face is a lack of objective visibility into available resources. Achieving that visibility lets you more efficiently align resources with project priorities and make the best business decisions.


You want to make sure that all your people are fully utilized, so you try to fill gaps when you see them.  Within a project, this process is relatively easy.  But it's often difficult to enforce a consistent resource management model across a department or enterprise. When planning a new project, resource needs should be objectively compared against other projects, so that prioritization is objective and best aligns to organizational goals.


By creating supply and demand models that follow the best practices outlined in a project and portfolio management tool, companies can save themselves from wasting time and resources and possible project delays. (To discover PPM best practices for effectively managing your resources, view my webinar.)


Aligning resources with project priorities

If you're implementing resource management processes in a system, you probably have very little information to start with. The first step is to ask these questions:


  • What skill sets do we have? Once you answer this, you can create a supply model to determine how to group these resources together in a logical way.
  • How do we best model demand? This demand comes from projects. You look at all the projects that the business wants each team to do. There are different levels of demand. From an enterprise planning perspective, you don’t want to be too detailed, but you also don't want to be too high-level.
  • How does resource allocation interact with your overall project portfolio? You want to make sure that you've got the project planning process in place so that you can implement resource management alongside it.

As new demands for projects come in, you want to make sure that resource management is a key part of the overall process. Once you understand the true priorities, you can focus resources on the projects that are going to deliver the most value to the business. And you can defer the lower priority ones until you have the resources available.


Saving pain down the road

A lot of times I find that customers will over-engineer the resource planning process. They'll say, "Oh, in order to do project X we need everyone's skills. So give me all your technologies that you know and a proficiency level of each. And we're going to input all that data, and then we're going to have our functional organization modeled, and then we're going to have our matrix cross-functional team modeled." It just gets too involved. Having all that data would be great and could provide insight for an organization with high maturity, but it’s just too much for most organizations.


Following PPM best practices can help you avoid such errors. For example, when you set up the structure of your resource pools, you have two distinct options to pick from. In a functional organizational alignment, you have a manager and a hierarchy of teams. It's like a simple work chart you see in a PowerPoint deck.


You could also choose to pool all of your like resources. Let's say Joe has a team of database administrators (DBAs), and Barb has a team of DBAs. Rather than having two teams of DBAs, they'll combine the two groups into one team and just call it the DBA team. To a customer, that might sound like six of one, half a dozen of the other. But this second model is often challenging in the long run, because there isn't a clear alignment between who owns that pool. Barb and Joe now both own it, and you get into possible contention there. The best practice here is, don't combine resources owned by different teams into one pool.


View my webinar to learn more about best practices for effective resource management.


Jason Waugh is a Lead Solution Consultant for HP Software Professional Services.  Mr. Waugh has been with HP for 11 years consulting with customers on project portfolio management implementation strategies and best practices.  He is passionate about helping organizations implement PPM capabilities that demonstrate value and align to their goals, maturity, and budget.


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