Three Requirements for Effective Resource Demand Planning in a Digital Age

Author: Ian Needs

Practical Tips for Agile Success

The main differentiator in successful agile project management (PM) is resource demand planning. In his article How Resource Management Works in an Agile Environment, Randy Mysliviec of the Resource Management Institute shares that especially in times of digital disruption, IT and other technologically-heavy program management offices (PMOs) must ensure that they can “put the right people on the right projects at the right time.” Mysleviec continues: “Inadequate resources can result in a shortage of tech-support professionals during a new product launch, a lack of programmers needed for a major software refresh, or a shortage of experts in specialized fields like data analytics or business continuity.” These digitally-enabled projects in a hybridized PMO require oversight on an accelerated cadence, especially during resource allocation.Other experts agree. For example, in its predictive blog, PMO Flashmob underscores the need for PMOs to be able to work “specifically in highly digital environments” and ensure they remain “fit, nimble and flexible when working projects which are delivered at pace.” The Flashmob folks assert that “It almost doesn’t matter which delivery approach is being used – just accepting that there will be a myriad of them and working out how to apply just enough governance and control” to meet minimum requirements, will often suffice.

To ensure that you retain just enough governance and control in an agile/hybrid PMO, it is essential to create communications and change management programs for project sponsors. These programs allow you to back-up all PMO-level decisions because they include complete visibility and a clearly-marked resource allocation path to align with strategy. You will be able to draw a straight line between your governance and control—for either waterfall or agile PM processes—and thus educate these executives on how each method supports the correct project array to positively impact to the bottom line.

To navigate digital innovations in IT or in non-digital businesses, you need effective, iterative PM practices to move your investments forward. In an “all businesses are IT businesses” environment, agile PM must rule the day. Yet, how do you best manage resource demand in these non-traditional portfolios? You can download our “Ideas in Action” white paper, Driving Smarter Resourcing for more details. But for now, concentrate on these top three PM tools’ characteristics to ensure you are well-equipped to educate and execute on agile PM.

1) Automated change handling

Agile PM is characterized by the ability to change direction and scope on adime. Once you have the appropriate tool to manage these projects, no unpleasant surprises and more flexibility ensue.Both predictive and agile projects should also be connected to financial, ERP and IT Service Management systems, to allow you to lock down project needs with additional transparency and control. Changes come in, they’re forecasted for their impact, and everyone moves on to getting thenew work done, or refocusing on the current work, because they’ve been able to identify why it remains a priority.

2) Visibility into all aspects of resource deployment

One of our clients, a professional services company, wanted to create more visibility in its portfolio, especially in regard to resource allocation. In agile PM, complete visibility is paramount—otherwise, iterative goals can’t be monitored appropriately. These “mini-milestones” are sometimes the only way IT PMs and PMOs can gauge the current success of their agile projects. When you have ten or more such projects constantly moving to pull resources, visibility will become an imperative. For more onthis topic, download our eBook, Resource Demand Planning in a Digital Age.

3) A long-term resource demand planning strategy supported by a centralized system

Suppose that you have a clear picture of the workflow required for each agile project in your portfolio. Further, you might possess the resources tosee all of these projects through to completion. However, our experience has shown that if you don’t have a cohesive view of the relationships between the projects and how they support your overall resource demandplanning strategy—and by extension, your business goals—you will never have the power to move from strictly waterfall-based behaviors.

Our clients are disappointed to report: Waterfall-based behaviors won’t work anymore in an increasingly agile environment. A centralized system is the only way they have found to support a holistic view of resource demand; forge a way to manage competing and contrasting workflows; and obtain a complete picture of the inherent business value and opportunities for innovation in your portfolio. Without these, your agile projects will flounder and your resources will always be stretched thin—or possibly, break down.