– Leif Edvinsson
Resource management – people, equipment, material, tools and more – is one of the crucial as well as most challenging area for the project manager.
Let us talk about people first.
The main benefit of a team is it’s synergy.
Synergy is defined as ‘two or more entities functioning together to produce a result much greater than sum total of the results produced by individual entities’.
A team can produce things much greater than sum of what its people can independently produce. And the main challenge for project manager is to keep the team functioning at the top of its capabilities in order to achieve best synergy.
This is easier said than done, because dealing with people has its inherent challenges.
People have moods, issues, concerns, aspirations, motivations, or plainly put – individuality. Every team member may not be capable of working in a team environment and the project manager has to ensure that such people do not alienate themselves. Knowing what motivates each team member and helping them achieve their goals is one way a project manager get people work together as a team.
But the first challenge is to get the right people on the team.
With other resources – equipment, servers, tools, machinery, raw material, and more – well, they are not moody thankfully. But there are few challenges with them –
- Availability & quality – low quality comes at a cost as compared to high quality. Cost may also increase based on alternative resources, and/or transportation driven by availability.
- Storage cost – best case scenario is to procure them just when you need. Else you can end up adding storage costs, pilferage costs, additional handling costs and so on.
- Shelf-life (for some of them) – again, procure when needed for the project.
Concepts that project manager needs to understand
Resource management methods – this deals with physical resources. Methods such as Just In Time (JIT), Kaizen, Theory of Constraints are used to manage when should resources arrive on project and how they are utilized. There are tools to support whichever method a PM chooses to follow on the project.
Emotional Intelligence – this deals with team resources: People.
When it comes to people, no manager can claim to be perfect at managing them. But exercising few cautions while hiring can go a long way to create ease of managing team members for the PM.
Emotional Intelligence indicates to what extent a team member can manage themselves, take responsibility, work independently, take decisions, cooperate and collaborate with rest of the team – areas that are of concern for a project manager.
Self-organizing teams – are the norm if the project follows Agile or a blend of traditional and agile methodology. A team that can self-organize and take collective decisions for the project can move ahead faster, be more productive, and respond to changes quickly than traditional team. Add to this the other dynamics associated with agile teams – geographically distributed teams – and you have a force to reckon with. This makes sure that project in on solid tracks to move ahead on.
You want to tailor the processes, or their tools/techniques for your project? Here are few things to consider while taking decisions about resource acquisition and management –
- Diversity of team – if you can accommodate and manage cultural diversity of team members, you can access best of the talent. Just make sure you are not sitting on a ticking bomb by turning a blind eye (or deaf ear) to the potential simmering issues that stem out of different cultural background or belief systems. It’s after all people we are dealing with.
- Physical location – while in agile practices colocation is one of the strengths (or in some cases need) to move the team forward as a single mind working on the problem, it also accommodates team members working remotely out of different locations. Practices such as war-room strategy at the beginning of the project can dampen the negative effects of geographically separated team members.
- Special resources – either team members or physical resources. For certain type of work you may have alternatives – and each alternative has pros and cons. If you need a specialized resource (or skill set) it can substantially increase your costs, but at the same time decrease time and increase quality!
- Project life cycle – your choice may have an impact on resource acquisition approach, and even project schedule.
Here are the processes that make for sound resource management on the project –
– the plan to define, acquire, manage, and control physical resources as well as people with right skill set, and their reporting hierarchies, roles, and responsibilities.
– In scope management lessons we learned the flow of collecting requirements to determining product and project scope, to creating WBS. Then in schedule management we continued the flow to identifying activities, to sequencing activities, to estimating duration it takes for each activity.
Then in the same schedule management knowledge area, we looked at determining schedule but with a missing link – the resource needs of those activities were not known.
That gap is filled in this knowledge area – project resources management – in the estimate activity resources process.
Acquiring project resources
– is about various ways of acquiring the resources for the project. Remember that this is NOT about people, just the physical resources. Project team is chosen as part of this next process
Acquiring and developing project team
– is about first building the team with right mix of skills. Then this process focuses on developing the team in terms of giving required training to build necessary competencies, and helping team work in a synergistic way.
– is about motivating and rewarding team, conducting performance reviews, providing feedback, resolving issues, and managing changes in the team.
Controlling resources on the project
– if not, they tend to increase cost and impact project schedule.
Though these project management activities are shown as discrete and sequential, they often overlap in ways specific to the project environment.
Project management team is a subset of Project team. It is also called as executive team, core team or leadership team.
Let us move on to the first of the project management activity, planning resources on the project.