Project Management #4 – Planning your resources accurately to ensure success from the start.

on Monday, 06 January 2014.

Project Management #4 – Planning your resources accurately to ensure success from the start

Crystal Clear Management Solutions have worked with a number of organisations, successfully delivering their programmes and projects. This is the fourth blog in the project management series and will focus on understanding your available resources and managing them accordingly.

After developing an initial business case and engaging the stakeholders, one of the most important challenges experienced is the understanding of resources, their availability and supporting them accordingly. In an ideal situation all resources are available immediately and have 100% capability and capacity. This does occur in the real world.

So what are the top challenges when planning your resources accurately?
1) Resources are shared with other projects not to forget their day jobs
2) Changes to resources availability along the project length
3) Team’s capacity and capability
4) Conflict and team morale

It is impossible to address all these at the start of the project but the awareness and understanding of the above challenges and incorporating these will go a long way to ensure that the project is delivered to the agreed timescale, cost and quality. Before delving into detailed resource planning, the business case must be completed and approved. The aim of resource planning is to identify who, what, when, where, why and how the project will be delivered. Whatever the project size, planning your resources is a critical aspect and without the appropriate effort at the start, the project is likely to end up in difficulty with delays, increase in cost, non-delivery.

Choosing the right team

Similar to sports like football, the Olympics; it is critical that the right team is allocated for the project for successful project delivery. This topic has been briefly discussed in previous blog - Project Management #3 “Engaging your stakeholders” and this blog focuses on further steps in ensuring that the Project Team is fully on board. It is not always possible to choose the perfect team and the following steps will help in creating a perfect team that support each other towards a common goal.

• Match the team to the resource required
• Ensure that the personnel complement each other in skills, calibre and personality
• Each member should have clear roles and responsibilities,
• Each member should understand each other’s roles and responsibilities,
• Clear and aligned project drivers, goals and targets

To enable a team to work effectively, it is advisable to promote team building at the start of the project to reinforce the above pointers and subsequently create trust, openness and awareness, which are the essential backbone of the perfect team.

Managing the resources

Managing resources at the start, during and at the end of a project is a fine art and many projects fail as they assume and allocate 100% availability of all resources from start to finish. In a real world, all resources are shared and it is recommended to initiate detailed conversations with line managers, other project managers and stakeholders to understand availability. It is not unusual to have one resource shared on 5 or more projects, resulting in only 20% availability.

Unless the project is very short (less than 4 weeks), new projects and new priorities will create further stress and pull on resources. Therefore regularly resource reviews are an essential part of the project monitoring. An example is that one particular resource was available 50% at the start of the project and a period of one month he/she is only available 25%. The workload and resources will have to be managed pro-actively to ensure no delays to the deadline.

Supporting the resources

Programme and project manager must support their resources from the start through to the end of the project. The lack of support can lead to an ineffective team, individuals experiencing stress and team conflict. All these issues can subsequently effect project delivery if not managed effectively.

It is essential to take time on a regularly basis to review the project to ensure that the team have not lost focus. In addition, the project manager should be aware of the team dynamics and address any stress or conflict. Having regularly team building sessions to re-focus, re-group and understand the priorities will re-invigorate the team and give that extra reassurance that the direction of the project is correct and the work of the team is appreciated by senior managers. In parallel, having regularly confidential conversations with the team will ensure that any issues are managed pro-actively in an open and trusted way.

Summary

It is important that the personnel in the team are managed in an effective way that they understand their roles and responsibilities, their priorities and are not overstretched. In addition, having regularly reviews and team building sessions will ensure the team are aligned with project delivery, with each other and pro-actively address any conflict issues that may arise.

In the next instalment we will look at planning and monitoring for project success. We would love to hear your experiences on Project Management and Resource Management, please leave your comments here or contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Crystal Clear Management Solutions provides Project and Change implementation support to large and global businesses across Mining, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas and the Utilities.

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