Resource management

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General

Resource management covers all aspects of the deployment of resources that deliver the project, programme or portfolio. Its goals are to:

  • determine the best way to resource the work;
  • acquire and mobilise the necessary resources;
  • control resources throughout the life cycle;
  • demobilise resources at the end of the life cycle;
  • finalise all contractual arrangements.

The resources needed on a project, programme or portfolio include people, machinery, materials, technology, property and anything else required to deliver the work. Resources may be obtained internally from the host organisation or procured from external sources.

The three main components of resource management are:

  • Procurement is primarily concerned with identifying and selecting external suppliers but many of the principles can be applied to securing internal suppliers. The degree of formality required will depend upon the complexity of the supply chain and associated risk.

  • Contract management deals with the continuing relationship between the management team and suppliers. This may revolve around the terms of a legal contract, an internal service level agreement or maybe simple documented agreements for supply.

  • Mobilisation is about getting the right resources in the right place at the right time. It also covers the reverse exercise of demobilisation when the resources are no longer required.

A simple procedure for managing resources is shown below:

 

Resource management procedure

 

A resource management plan will initially define how resources should be procured, mobilised and controlled according to organisational policies. This may include policies for tendering, contracting and matrix management of internal resources.

It may be necessary produce a preliminary management plan and initiate research into resourcing options. Once decisions have been made about how resource management applies to a specific context, the planning and initiation steps can be revisited in more detail.

The procurement step involves an assessment of what resources are needed to complete the scope of work. The work involved can be a significant project in itself and must consider factors such as the:

  • decisions to make or buy;
  • use of single integrated or multiple suppliers;
  • supplier selection;
  • supplier relationships;
  • conditions and forms of contract or agreement;
  • payment methods, reimbursement and/or internal cross-charging.

The acquisition of external resources will normally be through a procurement procedure that involves tendering and results in a contract for the provision of goods and services.

A P3 manager wishing to procure a solution to complex or innovative requirements may not know exactly how best to meet the requirements and may enter into a dialogue with potential suppliers to help develop a solution. Where this is the case, clear rules on disclosure of information from one potential supplier to another need to be established and maintained, both for the reputation of the purchaser and for legal compliance.

Where resources are acquired internally, there may be service-level agreements or terms of reference between the project, programme or portfolio and the department or function providing the resource.

All too often, arrangements for the provision of internal resources are informal and undocumented. This can lead to the P3 manager having no real control over the right resources being available at the right time.

Even small projects benefit from some form of documented agreement between the management team and the department providing the resources.

Setting up the management infrastructure and getting resources in place is called mobilisation. Projects and programmes are temporary organisations, whereas a portfolio may be permanent or semi-permanent. Therefore, while the infrastructure for managing a portfolio is mobilised once, project and programme infrastructures are mobilised and demobilised on a regular basis.

Once in place resources need to be controlled. This will involve activities such as monitoring progress and rescheduling work, reviewing contracts or service level agreements; responding to resource issues; introducing new resources and closing contracts.

Finally, at the end of the work, the resource infrastructure needs to be dismantled including the disposal of capital assets, closure of contracts and redeployment of internal staff.

 

Projects, programmes and portfolios

Some projects will be completely internal, drawing purely on the resources of the host organisation. In this situation the project manager may not need significant expertise in formal procurement and contract procedures but will need good negotiation and influencing skills to compete for the limited resource. The project sponsor will have an important role to play in ensuring that the host organisation commits to providing the necessary internal resources.

This means that at the end of the identification process there is a firm commitment to provide the resources for definition process and an agreement in principle to provide the resources necessary for the delivery process.

Larger, more complex projects will utilise a mixture of internal and external resources. The project manager may need support from specialists who have expertise in supplier selection and contract negotiations.

The different elements of a programme will have varying resource needs. It may well be that projects make greater use of external resources while the change management and benefits realisation are primarily done by internal resources. The programme manager should define how the responsibility for managing resources will be shared between project and programme-level management in the programme level resource management plan. The approach should provide co-ordination while delegating sufficient authority to individual projects.

The programme manager will need to consider factors such as:

  • elements of the management infrastructure that can be shared between projects;
  • opportunities for pan-programme procurement;
  • projects with specialised resource requirements;
  • structuring tranches to make resource usage more efficient.

Projects and programmes are sometimes initiated without the resource implications being fully understood. Programmes, in particular, have a wide-ranging impact on the host organisation through the need to implement change and realise benefits, as well as deliver project outputs. All aspects of resource management need to be investigated during the definition process and the results widely communicated to stakeholders.

The infrastructure of a portfolio is usually permanent but not necessarily constant. In one planning cycle the portfolio may be very extensive and in another it may be relatively modest. The resource demands of a portfolio will naturally vary according to the number of concurrent projects and programmes. In the managing a portfolio process, the management team must constantly balance the commitment to projects and programmes with the capacity of the host organisation to provide the necessary resources.

 

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Resource management

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