Managing Project Resources

Managing Project ResoursesPlanning, scheduling, managing human resources, equipment, and machines is one of the most challenging aspects of project management. Of course, every project may not require the fullest extent of these techniques. Successful project managers must have people management skills, including conflict management.

Managing Project Resources
By now, you have completed your Gantt chart, WBS and task network. Now, you have to assign names to each task, develop time estimates, human resources requirements, materials, tools, and equipment that will be available to you. On a small project team, you may be acquainted with each person’s skills and expertise.

On a larger project obtain summaries of each person’s experience and maintain that information on the project computer. Project management software can produce a variety of reports to help you schedule resources. The resource breakdown structure and human resources matrix facilitates team assignments.

The Resource Breakdown Structure
The resource breakdown structure is a functional listing of the human and other resources required to accomplish the project goal. It classifies the skills with a numbering system. When complete, these classifications can be used to develop a human resources matrix.

The Human Resource Matrix
The resource matrix, sometimes known as the responsibility matrix, matches a project team member or other resource with project tasks. Assign team members who are best qualified to perform each task and then identify or recruit the people necessary to fill the gaps. In some cases, company or department policy may govern the use of contract workers. The human resource matrix lists activities or tasks, names or job titles. It also identifies predecessor and successor task(s). Your software may provide an optional section to display hours and elapsed time. This matrix will be useful in resolving under-staffing, overloading or over scheduling and availability of resources.

Validating the HR Matrix
Just as you developed the project plan in several iterations, the human resource matrix may be revised many times. You can validate the human resource matrix by applying the following rules:

• Each task must be listed.
• Each task must have only one person who holds primary responsibility.
• Each task must have a sufficient support people to accomplish the task on time.
• Verify that expended and elapsed time estimates are correct for each resource.
• Skill or competency levels are sufficient to accomplish the task.

Resource Availability
Determine the number of full-time equivalents that are needed. You’ll need to know how much slack there is and when it occurs. Verify that resources are being allocated correctly and make sure everyone understands the difference between expended time and elapsed time. The human resource matrix should include the total manpower estimate (hours) for each task, elapsed time estimate for each task and Individual manpower allocation for each task.

For example, if a task takes five calendar days and requires five days of individual resource effort, one day of effort will be exerted on each calendar day of that activity. If an activity takes ten calendar days and requires five days of individual resource effort, then only a half day of effort will be exerted on each calendar day of that activity. Finally, if an activity takes three calendar days and requires nine days of individual resource effort, then three days of effort will be exerted on each calendar day of that activity.

You will need maximum effort from people who are already stretched by other projects. These concerns will require a special empathy from you, demonstrated by listening to the concerns and suggestions of each team member. Be forthright and honest and provide incentives for doing high-quality work. Most project team members work on more than one project and their loyalty is divided. To ensure that project work is accomplished on schedule, many organizations establish performance contracts or project performance reviews. The project manager needs a clear commitment from the team, and the team needs clear objectives, such as Time; Deliverables; Reporting formats and schedules; Primary and support responsibility; Compliance to standards; and Equipment.

Contingency Plans and Risk Analysis
You may not have the option of additional resources, although overtime and additional shifts may be considered. Therefore, you have only two choices regarding trade-offs: more time and reduced scope. But before making a recommendation to management, be sure you consider all possible methods for smoothing resource workloads to complete the current scope.

In addition to the risk factors you have already identified and considered, determine if you may lose resource for any of the following reasons:

• A resource is assigned to another project
• A resource is scheduled through a vacation or holiday
• All paths are critical
• Testing has been scheduled during other critical periods

Project teams typicality work with limited resources, high pressure, and tight budget and schedule constraints. Conflict is inevitable and most is either technical or personal conflict. Personality conflicts require a different, more personal type of conflict management.

To manage a personality conflict, the project manager can:

• Call time out and meet with each party separately to get more information.
• Clarify the issues and ask each person to agree to work for a win-win outcome.
• Ask each party what changes each party could make to resolve the conflict.
• Mediate and ask for a commitment to make the change(s).
• Reinforce the positive behaviors by thanking the parties in an appropriate manner.
• Don’t patronize, but offer constructive feedback.

Related Articles:  Keep Track of Your Next Project  and  My Project Failed … 5 reasons why!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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