This blog supplements the BrightTALK “Resource Management in a Busy World: Delivering Results, Extending PPM Maturity.” My collaborator on the webinar is CA Services partner itdesign, which created two powerful CA PPM packaged work products (PWPs), Assignment Editor and Allocation Editor. These PWPs enhance project and resource managers’ visibility and editing options, helping them assign and align resources to projects, evaluate and normalize demand, and better understand available skills. The image below is an example of the information shared in the presentation of the tool:
The webcast describes the system, so I will focus on the processes that enable the tool to deliver the overall solution. Resource management (RM) is a relatively straightforward process, but CA PPM practitioners sometimes struggle to achieve expected outcomes. I maintain that the CA PPM system and PWPs provide working functionality, and that an enhanced tool may increase usability—a common theme in my —but will also point out a few gaps in the process that can undermine success. So let’s explore some concepts and techniques I’ve used as a CA Services PPM architect, and garnered from PPM implementations, customers, colleagues and educational material.
First off, RM is imperative to understanding skills demand of prioritized investments, and can be an organizational differentiator by enabling portfolio capacity planning, resource optimization and even creating an agile structure; but seemingly modest functions like these are not always operationalized and matured:
- Understanding effort investment: reporting on actuals/time entry
- Managing assignments: identifying what the projects team members are working on/allocation and priority
- Improving planning: seeing discrepancies between allocations and actuals
- Informing decisions: staffing around investment priorities and demand v. capacity constraints
While examining the cause of this, I have put together a few constraints that I find myself addressing when designing a PPM RM strategy, as can you within your groups:
- Missing holistic solution oversight due to lack of transparency and consistency among multiple processes that interact with each other, for example 1) project RM v. operational support RM and 2) internally facing v. externally facing projects. . .
- Poor data quality due to a lifecycle that includes records passing between many sub-processes and groups with different standards, such as EPMO, satellite PMO, traditional waterfall, agile development, finance, executive planning, other work/ongoing investments . . .
- Process maturity deviation between teams, like with 1) a project management team with a vetted lifecycle v. a project staffing team with no KPIs and minimal policies or 2) a portfolio planning team that uses role data from a team with mature rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimates for waterfall projects v. an agile team with non-dedicated team members. . .
- Lack of organizational readiness strategy encompassing the entire solution ecosystem, often enabling a politically charged business value matrix where indiscriminate desired outcomes and solutions are supported, or not. . .
Below shows some simple/high level data input points of a RM process into the system, which will directly impact your ability to gain desired outputs. If any of these aspects breaks down, the overall ability to deliver is greatly undermined:
The point here is, that even when using a best-in-class tool, we still need the process to run smoothly, since many actors, policies, cadences, inputs and outputs are interconnected, so we need to address issues that can derail a PPM RM implementation holistically.
When I engage with customers, I formally and informally assess their risk factors, generally focusing on the concepts discussed here. I address the entire PPM RM strategy and all directly or indirectly impacted components in my designs for a new process, system implementation, maturing investment, simplification requirement, or cutover. This all-inclusive view of the flow reveals that the solution is only as valuable as its “weakest link”.
PPM RM value realization, most often comes from reporting, is delivered at the level of its process and system “weakest link”. In other words, we can’t report rich information if the data is poor. This chart visually describes the ability of the process, by function and group, to deliver the overall capabilities:
This “weakest link” model is especially visible with PPM RM, because of the many interactions, and if one set of actors or one process sub-set lacks quality, the entire solution is pulled down to its lowest common level. Below are tips and tricks I use when designing to mitigate this risk:
- Document a high-level PPM purpose and process flow with owners and all RM inputs and outputs. If this is not as-is, I document best practices and review the as-is flow with the customer and require sign-off as part of the system design. Gap analysis by leveraging a best practice framework is often the driver of positive change.
- Create a cadence and context calendar. This includes schedules that tie in-process investments and system inputs to outputs, as well as a data integrity audit. I use several homegrown concepts for this that mainly focus on clearly traced process action to value proposition (“from cog to cognizance”) and requirements that only include inputs that are tied to clear and present outputs (“organic audit”).
- Build clear rules of engagement, policies, decision points and artifacts/deliverables for the process, and include them in relevant communications.
- Implement an organizational readiness plan including, a formally structured communication methodology matrix, detailed schedule, and success measures.
For readers interested in more detail, check out DocOps and my Blog Series. I encourage you to participate in the best-in-class site, where we have access to our peers, events and support. You can also reach out to CA Services for individualized business outcome references and analysis. Feel free to post in the comments section of this blog or contact me directly via email and @PPMWarrior.