During these crazy times, we wanted to take a minute to appreciate the resources that help drive projects and move projects forward and even more so resource managers that make it all happen. Afterall, what would projects be without those that complete the projects?
Many project managers struggle to get the right resources, with the right skill, assigned to projects. It takes careful planning and coordination with resources managers to ensure those people will be available when the time is needed, that they are not over capacity at any given time, but also that they are busy and productive with enough work. But for project managers, it can be challenging to constantly be requesting resources when you do not have the ultimate say in who gets assigned to a specific project. The balance can be tricky, but the key is for project managers and resource managers to work together to achieve mutual success.
According to the latest Resource Management Institute survey report, Sourcing Strategies, RMI reported 3 key takeaways:
- Tightening labor markets and competition for scarce resources drives directed sourcing strategies that need to be formalized and require an “all-in” approach to finding talent.
- Data on “time to productive” for onboarding new talent adds additional complexity for resource planning drives improvements in sourcing tactics and onboarding processes.
- Automation tools drive resource management disciplines forward and increased capacity planning and provisioning are needed to support sourcing decisions.
The survey was predominantly a study from respondents in the Professional Services/Consulting and Enterprise IT sector and results indicated both the need for skilled labor and the glaring gap between what project managers need for projects and what resource managers are able to supply. While it is important to follow these trends, it is apparent in the study how important it is for coordination between project management and resource management functions. Here we explore 3 ways Project Managers and Resource Managers can come together.
Acknowledge The Skills Shortage
If you are in a project resource management function you have probably felt the impact of skills shortage. It is just difficult to retract and retain talent in a competitive marketspace. According to the survey, both PS and IT agree: there are challenges in finding available talent.
What does this mean for project managers? Requesting resources, understanding related skills and creating contingency plans will help keep projects moving forward even under challenging conditions. For resource managers, centralizing resource management and getting a complete view of all resources and skills available at any given time is a necessity.
Who Owns the Sourcing Strategy?
Taking a look at who owns the sourcing strategy for getting the right resources for both Professional Services and IT organizations, it is interesting that HR predominantly owns the strategy. While this is a shared responsibility, RMI argues that the Resource Management Office (RMO) or similar organization should be the owner of such strategy.
For project managers and resource managers, it is critical that resource needs are clearly communicated to the organization that is ultimately responsible for the sourcing strategy. While project managers likely know the skills they need the most, it is important to document the requirements and get ahead of delays. Resource managers in turn need to have a keen understanding of related skills and be able to get best fit assigned to work given all available skills.
Let Automation Tools Do the Work
Project resource management tools are a huge component to any resourcing strategy and both project managers and resource managers need to be on the same page with the tool selection as well as the supporting process for the tool. The RMI survey suggests that more leverage can be placed on automation tools and that the solution itself is not to blame for capacity gaps, rather process pitfalls. Getting processes in place, a tool up and running, and everyone on board with the strategy will go a long way to bridge the gap between what is being asked and what is ultimately delivered.
The research indicates less than half of both Professionall Services and IT teams feel that their tools support their resource capacity plans, with Enterprise IT significantly less than PS at just over a third.
For project managers it is important to have visibility and data to support resourcing requirements. Centralizing information into an automation tool allows project managers and resource managers to have a single source of truth for information and a reliable data set to pull information and make decisions from. As the RMI notes, the biggest point of failure for automation tools often is not the tools themselves, rather the process by which data is entered into the system and lack of using one single system. When resource managers and project managers make the tool work for them and design the process to support their mutual goals, there is a lot more value from the system and delivered to the business.
Keeping project managers and resource managers on the same page and working together is valuable for the business. Coordinating resourcing needs between projects and among available resources ensures the right people are assigned to the right work at any given time – a match made in the PMO stars.
Rachel Hentges is challenging PMO leaders to think differently about their role. Rachel is the author of key industry related surveys, reports, blogs and more that challenge the status quo of today’s PMOs.