The Resource Management Maturity Sweet Spot
The Resource Management Maturity Model (RMMM) defines five levels of process maturity: 1: Work Visibility; 2: Controlled Assignment; 3: Governed Capacity; 4: Schedule-Driven Availability; 5: Granular Management. One of the principle tenets of the RMMM is that higher is not necessarily better when it comes to the maturity of your resource management process. In fact, for most organizations, the optimal level of maturity is Level 3: Governed Capacity.
We call this the resource management maturity sweet spot.
At Level 3, resources are managed at the "project" level rather than at a more granular level like project phase or task. In other words, resource management is essentially a top-down process as opposed to the next level of maturity where resource assignments are driven bottom-up from the project Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) at either the project phase level (Level 4) or detailed project activity level (Level 5).
Managing resources at the "project" level of detail, provides most of the benefits organizations desire in terms of the ability to assign resources to the highest priority projects, manage capacity to meet existing and future demand, and track project and portfolio costs.
At the same time, it doesn't burden organizations with the additional process complexity associated with bottom-up resource management. The key business benefit of more granular resource management control -- the ability to accommodate incremental demand with existing resources in a highly time/schedule constrained environment -- may not be justified simply because of the potentially onerous information and supporting technology complexity and process maturity demands.
To illustrate exactly what you are signing up for when you go bottom up, consider this. WBS-driven resource management puts the burden on project managers to accurately:
1. Maintain and update project phase dates
2. Assign individual resources to the relevant phases; and
3. Provide utilization requirements by phase.
For a portfolio with 100 projects, with an average of 5 phases per project and 5 resources per phase, the required number of data values to be kept up to date by the PM is 100x5x5x3 or 7,500!
If the organization does not possess adequate process maturity, the dependent capacity planning and governance processes will be driven from a mass of unreliable underlying information. This is a big risk.
In sum, understand your resource information requirements carefully and make sure you can justify the incremental maturity level benefits with the additional process complexity and associated risks.