Time for a mid-term resource management battle plan!

Why is it so difficult to just work on the priorities we have set, it is clear our organization needs this and it should be feasible ?

Very logical question coming from C-level who is further away from the day-to-day project delivery and who questions what key people are doing when the new priorities were so clear. It might take some courage to answer them:

  • They are working on other priorities you recently set (“Oh that project! Yes, they better finish that now that we already got that far !”)
  • They are working on other priorities recently set by another director, by your colleague (“That can be stopped right !?!… ”)
  • They are not just doing projects … there is a business to run next to that.
  • … and sometimes better keep the 4th category for yourself (Your key resources are also working on some side-projects they think are more important or prefer to work on…)

Very quickly an Enterprise PMO Manager risks ending up in a lot of one-to-one discussions where everybody starts shouting what “in his/her opinion” the real priorities are. Time for a mid-term resource management battle plan ! Show the full view of what critical resources are asked to do in the coming 3 to 6 months and let senior management really decide on priorities !

5 Tips to efficiently visualize & prioritize your critical resources when priorities change

The above situation is asking for focus, expertise and in the end … speed & quality. Your management wants to take the right decisions and they want to do that fast. So don’t take a few months to reflect by organizing large “workshops” for choosing the right software tool to use for this exercise: just do it!

  1. Focus on critical resources (and don’t forget the business) ! Like in every project, scoping this exercise is a first important step : if only a limited number of resource profiles are critical for the recession battle plan of your CEO, than don’t create an overview on the whole company. Important however: very likely that experts from the business are key to deliver, so don’t limit yourself to just the IT, Engineering, … or other project departments.
  2. Prioritize time for strategic projects, don’t include details for the remainder. A lot of resources you will need will split their time between the strategic projects you need to staff and their operational tasks for their line manager. Just focus on a clear agreement on the % availability for strategic projects with the line manager, stay out of how the line manager will allocate the remainder of the time !
  3. Think competences and roles first, names after. Many of these exercises get stuck because everybody starts thinking immediately in names (always the same experts) and forget to describe the competences they really need. As an organization you will be able to deliver a lot more (and faster) if you use everyone in his/her expertise, not if you all start claiming the same “person”.
  4. Projects are unique so make sure escalation paths are clear. No matter how good your resource battle plan might be, we are still talking about projects which by definition are unique : some will take more time than foreseen and get into conflict with others. Why not installing a temporary “Resource Board” close to or at Senior Management level to quickly decided on unforeseen issues which are blocking your recession battle plan?
  5. A la guerre comme à la guerre: don’t build a solution for eternity if the situation is exceptional! As an Enterprise PMO, you should manage expectations (and definitely don’t work towards your personal expectations). Make sure it is vey clear whether the resource planning solution you are offering is a one-shot, something to last for 6 months or a continuous process for the coming years. Every choice has its pro’s and con’s: not choosing is the worst option.

During close to 20 years in Project & Portfolio Management I have seen wonderful exercises like this leading to clear decision-making after only a few weeks. However I have also seen many of them drowning in a too large scope, too many details, bad stakeholder management, etc.

So my very last tip: don’t underestimate the subject. If you are doubting your approach, give us a call or follow one of our free webinars on the subject !

Webinar: Mid-term resource management: anticipate & prioritize

The COVID-19 recession leads to new defined priorities to tackle the new, changed world. The shift in priorities might have been communicated from C-level to the organization, however, it remains very difficult and challenging to adapt the project portfolio to these new priorities. What about ongoing project? Should they be stopped? Which resources are still available? What about other priorities set by other directors? Very quickly, the E-PMO risks ending up in discussions where everybody is putting his projects and priorities first.

Time for a mid-term resource management battle plan that gives you quickly a full overview of which crucial resources are asked in the upcoming 3 to 6 months, so senior management can really decide on priorities.

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Tom Dedecker

Tom Dedecker
CEO Threon

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