One question I get asked a lot is: Who should own the resource management process in an organization? There are a number of considerations, and perhaps the first question to ask is: What should the role consist of?
First, let me clarify that ownership of the resource management function (maintaining resource data and assignments) is a different animal than owning the resource management process, and the answer may not be the same for both. For instance, often I see the PMO or some other central group or person own the process, while the functional resource managers perform the resource management function for their respective areas.
As for what ownership of the process means and what a resource management process model looks like, it would typically include:
- Defining the process and maturity path (e.g., who should submit assignment requests and enter assignments, when, how, and at what level)
- Facilitating data building (master data such as cost centers, rate, working hours, and other resource attributes)
- Monitoring adoption (examining data diagnostics to ensure the players are participating)
- Gaining management buy-in (ensuring the management team at all levels is in agreement on the benefits and outcomes of the process)
- Reporting on capacity and demand (making leadership aware of key areas of upcoming shortfall and gaps in staffing vs. the upcoming pipeline)
- Recommending sourcing strategies (evaluating and proposing staff augmentation models to accommodate peaks in demand)
A PMO or RMO (Resource Management Office) is in the best position to conduct these organization-wide activities. In fact, a benchmark study I was involved in with Appleseed Partners on resource management and capacity planning practices showed that nearly 70% of organizations with mature resource management practices have a specific role or function defined for capacity planning and resource management. Only 26% of less mature organizations employ such a role.
With ownership of the role defined, the central function could help answer key high level business questions, such as:
- How much resource time is unproductive (i.e., spent on lower value activities)?
- What is it costing us to keep the lights on versus strategic projects and other work?
- How much are we spending in each division and does this balance match our strategic intent?
- How many FTEs do we need to support our current demand pipeline?
- What is the expected benefit of our current pipeline of strategic projects? What are we willing to spend in order to achieve it with adequate staff?
- What areas are we spending too much on that can be sacrificed?
- What products, services, or software applications should be retired? Are we wasting valuable resources supporting them?
- What skills are needed to excel in our future workload? Are we staffed adequately in our critical skill areas?
- Which initiatives have already been funded? Are we able to meet committed business milestones and cycle times?
I would also suggest that performing the actual resource assignment and management function is best done by the individual resource managers. After all, they know their staff best and have the big picture of not only their staff’s current workload, but their upcoming workload. Resource managers and project managers should be in constant contact and work together to ensure proper staffing of work, based on priorities.
In all, having a dedicated and committed owner of the resource management process is a good way to ensure that resource planning, the #1 key driver of successful strategy execution, is properly addressed. And having resource managers participate in the process operationalizes it.