Resource Group Management with Resource Needs

Stage 2 capabilities also give resource group managers extended visibility of planned resource needs beyond approved and planned assignments. In many cases, the effective visibility is extended from a couple of months to as much as a year. With Stage 1 capabilities, resource group managers only had visibility of assignments, and had to make decisions based only on this limited horizon. With Stage 2 capabilities, they can see much further ahead, and can use this additional visibility to make better scheduling and assignment decisions.

Figure 6-5 illustrates Ted Johnson's visibility of resource demand and capacity for his group in terms of planned needs (top half) and available capacity net of assignments (bottom half). He can see the planned resource needs for his group in four categories: software design, software development, programming, and JAVA programming, a subcategory of programming. He now has visibility of the eight planned needs for programmers in July for the Fast-Food Robot project that Anne just added. Ted can also see that the ID Robot project just requested resource assignments for one software developer and three programmers.

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Figure 6-5: Software Engineering Resource Group Manager's View of Resource Demand (Needs) and Capacity (Availability Net of Assignments) at CRI

In the bottom half, Ted can see all the current assignments of his people. These assignments define his available capacity. So he decides to expand the assignment detail for David Krieger, scheduling his approved assignment to the Fast-Food Robot project as well as the planned assignment starting in July. The system also shows Ted where the overassignments are and what the total availability is. (The chart only includes 5 of Ted's 25 people, but the totals include all 25.)

Ted begins to work on filling the needs that were requested. The software developer request from the ID Robot project is ideal for Susan Collins, and she will be available in March, so he assigns her to this need. The ID Robot project also requested three programmers, and he thinks he can easily fill them in April, since he has eight people available. But now that he can see that the Fast-Food Robot needs eight programmers in July, he anticipates a problem. He knows that the Fast-Food Robot is a top priority, and that he won't have sufficient resources to support it if he gives all eight of his available programmers to the ID Robot project. He decides to formally raise this issue with the Product Approval Committee, which also has visibility of the impending programmer shortage. "Previously, I would not have had visibility of upcoming project needs," Ted explains, "and I would have assigned resources on a first-come-first-served basis, and then we would have re-assigned staff from project to project. Now we can make much better decisions based on visibility over a longer horizon."

Ted also anticipates future resource problems where demand will exceed capacity. In this example, as shown in Figure 6-5, demand would exceed capacity in July (19 FTEs needed, compared to 5 available). So Ted made this problem known to portfolio managers and senior executives who might need to cancel or defer projects because of this constraint. He also began to explore potential alternatives to mitigate this problem, such as identifying contractors who could supplement the capacity of his group. In particular, he worked closely with Anne Miller to come up with a solution prior to her team's Phase 1 review.

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The process of requesting and assigning resources to projects is referred to as the resource transaction process, and the total number of resource transactions can be quite large. For example, in a company like CRI, with 600 developers who are assigned to multiple projects and phases within a year, there could be several thousand resource assignments. With each project need requiring a request and an assignment, there could be 5,000 or more resource transactions in a given year.

Stage 2 capabilities allow a company to formalize its process for filling resource requests with actual assignments. This is sometimes classified as a Stage 2B capability because some companies may prefer to implement the previously described aspects of Stage 2 prior to implementing a resource transaction process.

A resource transaction process establishes the formal organizational authority and responsibility for resource management that was not supported by Stage 1 or Stage 2A systems or processes. With more advanced resource management processes, a project manager will no longer have the authority to directly make resource assignments. She can plan resource needs and make a request from resource managers to fill those needs. In some cases, a specific resource may even be requested, but it is up to the resource manager to make the final assignment.

With a Stage 1 level of capability, these resource transactions could only be managed informally, with the resulting problems of inefficiency, inconsistency, and frustration. Project managers frequently needed to chase resource managers to get assignments filled. The informality was also very inefficient for resource managers. They couldn't see the profile of expected needs and make intelligent assignment decisions for a group of needs. One research study by PRTM showed that it took resource managers from one week to three months to fill a project assignment request, and that they spent 10 percent of their time administering these requests.[1]

A formal resource transaction process increases the efficiency of requesting and making project resource assignments. In its simplest form, the process can be viewed as the series of transactions described in Figure 6-6.

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Figure 6-6: Resource Transaction Process

A formal resource transaction process requires a system for managing the transactions as well as a management process defining the "rules of engagement" for requesting and making assignments. The transaction management system must be integrated with the broader development chain management system for greatest effectiveness. It's helpful to understand that a resource transaction process consists of three types of transactions—needs, requests, and assignments—for each serves a different purpose.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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