If Resource Capacity Planning and Strategic Resource Allocation address resource supply and demand, respectively, the PMO is in a prime position to:

    • Drive the processes and tools for these crucial functions

    • Report on portfolio achievability and workforce utilization

    • Assist the organization with decision-making processes when priorities and workloads change

After all, when schedules, priorities and staff personnel change, the primary lever for making adjustments is Resource Management.

This is why we suggest that PMOs begin with Resource Management software and processes, and then layer in the other adjacent processes after that foundation is in place. We also suggest that PMOs become the de facto owner of the Resource Management process.

Most organizations struggle with resource overcommitment, project delays, lack of visibility of supply and demand, and more. Focusing on delivery or fixing project execution methods or prioritization methods won’t help if the wrong people are working on the wrong projects, or if there are simply too many projects for the staff to handle effectively. The best delivery methods in the world won’t get you too far if your ship is unmanned.

In essence, the goal is to have the right people with the right skills available at the right time on the right projects. This can only be done with proper Resource Management.

Indeed, Resource-savvy PMOs:


    • Offer the organization a holistic view of project demand versus resource capacity to drive a culture of feasibility and transparency

    • Establish formal demand intake processes to ensure potential projects are meaningful, well-conceived, and doable

    • Foster a process whereby initiatives do not get funded or scheduled unless there is proof of achievability, i.e., a resource plan consistent with the people/skill capacity of the organization

    • Provide a cyclical cadence for project portfolio reviews that consider current priorities and correct use of human capital when making necessary tradeoffs

    • Deliver reports on skill/resource utilization that enable staff planning and informed decisions

    • Equip the organization with tools to do what-if scenario-planning and Waterline Analysis when considering new initiatives or adapting to internal or external change

    • Facilitate the AOP (Annual Operating Planning) and LRP (Long-Range Planning) process.

    • Enable long-range resource capacity planning and staff planning with the proper data and tools.

    • Boost organizational performance by assessing process adoption rates, delivering tools to monitor data quality, and driving continuous improvement.

Without these crucial functions, blind spots into supply vs. demand can lead to poor decision-making and the chaos of working in “reaction mode.”


Want to find out how ResourceFirst can help your PMO drive operational excellence? Visit the PDWare Product page to learn more!



A Model for PMO Success

With the foundation of Resource Capacity Planning and effective Resource Allocation in place, a good model for the PMO to operate with includes three components, each addressing a phase in the proper management of portfolios:

    • Intake

    • Rationalize

    • Optimize


The INTAKE phase provides major inputs into the operational flow, such as:

    • Strategic Alignment and Ranking (priority)

    • Demand Forecasting

    • Risk and Impact Assessments

    • Team and Skill Capacity Assessments


The RATIONALIZE phase builds on the foundational input of supply, demand, and priorities and adds additional operational elements to support the allocation process. These may include:

    • Setting Financial Targets

    • Setting and comparing Project Baselines

    • Creating and maintaining Effort Forecasts

    • Addressing shortfall when trying to satisfy Project Demand

    • Capturing Actuals

    • Running What-If Scenarios

    • Capturing periodic Project Status and changes to key project parameters


Lastly, the OPTIMIZE phase provides the tools and reports for informed decision-making, such as:

    • Waterline Analysis

    • Risk Mitigation

    • Financial Analysis

    • Performance and Variance Analysis


The End-to-End Process for Portfolio and Resource Management

Thinking holistically, an astute PMO leader might also put in place a high-level Portfolio Management process looking something like the following:

In the Demand Intake phase, a new request comes in, where it is vetted for accuracy, sized, and either routed to the appropriate organization, or—if deemed a project—enters the Portfolio Planning and Governance phase, where it is scored and prioritized within the appropriate portfolio and assessed for both spend and resource capacity.

If the project is approved, it is then scheduled for when the resources are available to perform it (which may be sooner rather than later if the project’s priority bumps it ahead of other projects). Many organizations skip this step and, to their detriment, begin project execution immediately upon approval without assuring the appropriate resources.

Once a project is approved and deemed to be feasible in terms of budget and staff, then execution is scheduled to begin at its targeted start date.

When new projects come in, or change occurs, the Portfolio Planning and Governance process repeats, often as part of periodic Portfolio Review meetings.

Underlying the whole framework is the act of assessing how well the organization is employing and adopting the process, capturing lessons learned, and improving the process and/or tools accordingly.

Portfolio Reviews and Resource Management

A good Portfolio Review process is also crucial, and will generally involve a tiered approach, as depicted below:

Typically, an annual planning process results in an Annual Operating Plan (AOP), tied to the organization’s strategies and goals. High-level staff planning should occur here as well. Functional areas must finalize their plans and budgets accordingly. A Long-Range Plan (LRP), also reviewed here, will typically address at least the next three years.

At least quarterly, the organization should review their project portfolio and adjust resource allocation, making tradeoffs where needed.

A monthly portfolio review (usually by way of a Portfolio Review Board) makes portfolio-level decisions, including reprioritizing projects, adjusting resource allocation, deciding on new initiatives, and more.

Program and project-specific steering or stage-gate meetings can occur weekly or biweekly or monthly, depending on the size and duration of the program/project. Here, program/project-specific decisions are made involving stage-gate approvals, project staffing, issue resolution, and more.

Lastly, the Voice of the Customer (VOC) is usually addressed via function-specific advisory council’s or SIGs (Special Interest Groups). These groups can advocate for their key priorities and weigh in on important decisions impacting their area.


How ResourceFirst Enables the PMO to Drive Operational Excellence

Certainly, a PMO needs to foster project management excellence, including project planning, risk management, and project accounting. But to accelerate its value to the organization, it needs to address the crucial foundation of Resource Management, and this is best done via specialized Resource Management Software, such as PDWare’s ResourceFirst.


ResourceFirst can help you:

    • Align skills, people, and teams with the most important projects and programs without getting into the weeds of detailed project tasks

    • See at a glance which skills and people are over-or-underutilized

    • Find candidates in the organization to address project resource shortfall

    • Run what-if scenarios to see the impact to the portfolio (in terms of staffing and finance) if you take on new work, change priorities, or shift schedules and more


Best yet, ResourceFirst makes it easy for each constituent role to contribute their part in driving project success:

    • Project Managers can contribute project plans, request skills and financials, provide periodic status; manage changes, risk, and issues; track phases and milestones; report on Baseline/Forecast/Actuals, and more

    • Financial project/core team members can develop project financial plans

    • Resource Managers (i.e., functional managers) can enter, approve, and maintain effort forecasts for their staff, do scenario plans to deal with changes, approve or provide actuals, and more

    • Project resources can contribute actuals and update project and resource managers of schedule changes

    • Team Leaders can assign people to teams and assign teams to projects

    • Financial and functional executives can set targets and budgets at any level of the organization

The Bottom Line:

With a foundation of Resource Management, and by providing a resource management tool that enables constituent-based planning, drives transparency, and fosters a culture of feasibility, the PMO can be in a position to help the organization achieve greater accuracy, more insightful decision-making, and overall operational excellence.

Play Video
Play Video