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Introduction: The Landscape of Portfolio Resource Management

Engaging with customers, we often discuss the pivotal role of supporting project managers in accurately estimating and planning resources for successful project completion. This becomes paramount when projects demand skilled and scarce resources, necessitating varied allocations based on priorities and timing. Individual project managers aren’t equipped to handle portfolio-level resource allocations; this is typically the domain of the PMO or EPMO. In this piece, we delve into Portfolio Resource Management, spotlighting key considerations when establishing or enhancing this capability.

Across industries and organisations of varying sizes, we’ve identified recurring challenges. A primary reason for these challenges seems to be the underestimation of proactive Portfolio Resource Management’s value. It’s only when projects lag, teams are stretched thin, and resignations spike that the importance of resource management becomes evident.

We define Portfolio Resource Management as: The efficient management of resource capacity and capability;

  • From both a supply and demand perspective;
  • Across all projects and programs in the portfolio;
  • For current and future activities agreed at a strategic level.

The three most common challenges we see in this space are:

  • Overburdening trusted project resources with multiple projects, leaving other resources underutilised.
  • Last-minute requests from project teams for niche skills or specific expertise, which should have been anticipated earlier.
  • Discrepancies between planned and actual resource activities at the portfolio level, causing budgetary and scheduling issues.

The repercussions of inefficient resource allocation are evident: missed deadlines, overburdened teams, and underperforming projects. Does this resonate?

Unicorns in Portfolio Resource Management

We often liken Portfolio Resource Management to managing unicorns: Challenges include:

  • Assigning the best project resources (our known unicorns) for maximum efficiency.
  • Anticipating the need for niche skills (identifying the unknown unicorns).
  • Determining the quantity and timing for these niche skills (counting the unicorns).

Why unicorns? Because, much like these mythical creatures, many doubt the feasibility of complete transparency in resource management. We’re here to prove it’s achievable

Role of Technology in Resource Management

While many organisations possess or contemplate implementing Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) tools, there’s a misconception that these tools alone can streamline Portfolio Resource Management. We advocate that successful resource management hinges as least as much on behaviours, processes, and governance as on data. PPM tools can aid, but they aren’t standalone solutions.

Our recommended approach:

  • Prioritise behaviours, processes, and governance to ensure data accuracy.
  • Use quality data for decision-making.
  • Employ PPM tools for efficient data collation, analysis, and reporting.
  • When considering a PPM tool, make sure you align its capabilities with your specific organisational needs.

Role of Processes and Governance

Quality data is paramount, and it’s shaped by behaviours, processes, and governance. Formal processes define roles, data capture, validation, availability, and usage. Closing the feedback loop with data providers enhances the process’s value.

Effective governance ensures:

  • Delegated, transparent, and evidence-based decision-making.
  • Timely decisions, contingent on available data.
  • Diverse representation in decision-making.
  • With robust processes, governance, and data, proactive management becomes the norm.

IV. Conclusion: The Path Forward

With the right focus, processes, and governance, resource management evolves from a reactive approach to a strategic one. By acknowledging the factors highlighted and charting a path towards maturity, organisations can revolutionise their resource management approach and get a step closer to on time on budget project and program outcomes.

Interested in enhancing your Portfolio Resource Management? Reach out to us today!