Improving Project Outcomes via Better IT Resource Management
In my last post I shared the results of an IT resource management benefits gap analysis associated with our global study on IT resource and capacity management processes and maturity levels. I identified the largest gap between current or realized resource management benefits and desired (and not yet achieved) benefits as the ability of the resource management process to positively impact project outcomes. Specifically, 37% of survey respondents cited "Increased project success rates and improved cycle times via timely assignment of the right resources” as being a desired, but unrealized, benefit of their resource management initiatives.
Finally, I promised to attempt to explain this particular gap through a deeper examination and cross-tabulation of the survey data. So, here goes. At a high level, the low level of maturity for resource management processes in general is likely a contributing factor. Since a significant number of organizations are still struggling to attain basic benefits like resource visibility and to track and report on individual utilization, the ability to focus on project outcomes may be taking a back seat.
A deeper analysis would lead to an examination of (1) the processes and practices associated with project allocation and assignment governance, (2) project role definition and management and (3) resource allocation and assignment “granularity.”
Consistently quick allocation and assignment of resources to projects requires some kind of formal governance process. A further inspection and cross-tabulation of the survey reveals that 60% of the 244 respondents that listed improved project success rates as a desired, but not yet achieved, benefit of resource management, do not have a formal resource management governance process in place. By default the process is owned by resource, project and line managers.
Further, once a governance process is in place the ability to ensure that the right resources are assigned quickly means that organizations need to do a good job defining, developing and tracking various project roles and role attributes such as location, skills, cost rates, training/certifications, etc. While a strong majority of organizations (68%) in this same do in fact specify project roles like DBA and business analyst with basic attributes like cost rate, they do not consider more advanced attributes like skills, training and certifications.
Finally, timely assignment of the right resources all implies a resource allocation and assignment process with a sufficient level of “granularity” (i.e., do you have the ability to assign resources at a partial utilization rate like 50% and at specific time intervals or do you simply assign a resource for the full duration of the project?). Twenty-seven percent of this group is only able to track what resources are working on what projects. Another 20% are able to allocate a resource for the entire duration of a project using an average fixed percentage utilization (e.g. 100%, 50%, 20%). However, there is no ability to vary an individual's resource allocation within the duration of a project (e.g., 100% in May; 50% in June). Thus, a lack of maturity along the “assignment granularity” dimension is also a contributing factor.
In sum, it behooves organization to look at the level of maturity of their overall resource management strategy and processes. Reasonable and practical benefits like improved project outcomes are achieved organically when you improve resource management maturity dimensions like assignment granularity, roles, cost management, capacity planning, governance, etc.in a balanced and coordinated manner. The Resource Management Maturity (RMMM), which defines various maturity levels and dimensions, enables organizations to define and execute an effective resource management strategy. It accomplishes this by helping stakeholders better align resource-related information needs with their level of project and portfolio management (PPM) process maturity and technology enablement.