Common Challenges In Tactical Resource Planning
Managing your resources has become a key goal for companies in recent years, but not everyone can do it...
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The modern organizational culture is an amalgamation of different resources piled on top of each other. This is why companies are reducing their induction processes all over the world.
There comes a time when you need more people then there are available to them. At that time, you have to hire new people or retain your army. How would you schedule or plan their involvement in such a way that they don’t get in the way of one another?
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This is the reason why managing your resources has become a key goal for companies in recent years, but not everyone can do it. That’s why companies hire professionals to apply their masterful procedures of resource scheduling. These procedures pave the way for:
- Best Possible employment of the existing resources.
- Satisfactory staffing of these positions.
- Identifying new positions and qualifications in a good time.
Many a time, companies try to achieve success in resource management challenges by using specific tools from project and portfolio management. This is not unnatural as many innovations are generally achieved in the context of projects.
It may seem promising but in reality, it doesn’t always work out as intended or in some cases, it may take a long time before you can actually see success in resource management. The reason for it is that not every company works in a project organization and there are companies that work in a matrix or line organization.
When the companies work in a pure organization, the PMs can concoct their teams at their own discretion and the team members will have no authority or roles outside the projects.
In this type of environment, the challenges of resource planning become transparent and we can see the bigger picture more easily.
In this article, when we use the phrase tactical resource planning, we actually mean the development of teams for specific projects with the appropriate staff, as well as the coordination between the team leader and the project manager on the issue of resource use.
Because of the nature of their roles, the project manager and the team leader don’t pursue the same objectives which make this planning process a very demanding task for the company.
When the companies are faced with these types of challenges where they are not able to disperse their resources according to the way they want, they take help from project management software.
But more on that later, let us distinguish all of the different terms first that we will study further.
Areas of Resource Management
As you know that resource management is a comprehensive field with lots of different factors in play. However, if we talk about resource management in the context of project management, it can be divided into three distinct areas. They are as follows:
1. Tactical Resource Planning
This procedure is based on a medium-term formation of the project teams. What it includes is the continuing coordination between the team leader and the project manager for the induction of staff in operations and projects.
The appropriate resources with the required qualifications are committed by the team leaders to the project managers at the project level. The best way they do that is by using a top of the line project management software nTask which schedules the availability of the appropriate resources for them.
This article will solely focus on tactical resource planning.
2. Strategic Resource Planning
This type of planning involves planning, on a long-term basis, of the staff’s capacities and qualifications. The main goal of this procedure is to incorporate the current and future projects of the company with its strategic focus. The question here is, how many resources and which ones:
- Will it need to be obtained or trained?
- Will it be necessary for the upcoming projects and operations?
In many of the projects, portfolio managers take on this challenge. The ammunition they need for this task is the current requirements and skillset of the resources in question from the project managers. The team leaders have to provide them the available resources based on the required qualifications.
3. Operational Resource Planning
This procedure is based on continuing task planning for the assigned resources in specific projects at the task level by the project managers.
Different Perspectives for Project Manager and Team Leader
The assigning of resources according to the task of their respective projects is planned by the project managers. The main goal of this is to acquire these resources at the end of the development phase.
Ultimately, the team leaders are the judges to decide which resources are assigned to which projects, because they are responsible for the resources. Still, when it comes to major resource management challenges, both the project leader and team leader are involved because:
- Efforts may not have been calculated as required.
- Staff absences may come unexpectedly.
- Project scope and delivery dates may not remain as planned.
- Staff members are not as interchangeable as imagined.
Another thing to ponder is that the project managers and team leaders are monitoring the same resources but from completely different perspectives. Such as:
- The project managers seem more relaxed when it comes to assigning people to the detailed tasks of their respective projects. They are relaxed because the conditions are changing constantly, and they have to keep the resources relaxed to deliver their goals on time.
- Team leaders, on the other hand, are more concerned about the time and effort of their resources exhaust to achieve the right workload at all times. This approach is also effective because it saves the risk of the resources being overloaded with work. Other things team leaders have to worry about are absences and operations, unlike project managers.
Different Issues and Forms of Organization
Based on which form of organization lived at the company, the planning strategies of both the project managers and team leaders will differ:
- According to the matrix organization, all of the staff members from various teams are available to the project managers
- In the line organization, results are delivered to the project managers by the teams
Of course, depending on the type of projects, there are always hybrids or modified versions of the two organizations. For instance, components may be provided according to the line model but the integration paving the way for the final results happens according to the matrix model.
In both the line and matrix organization, the team leaders and project managers tend to plan according to their perspectives and obviously, those plans are not to the same extent. Instead, both of the plans complement each other at a suitable level.
In this organizational model, the PM receives the developmental outcomes from the respective teams. To achieve these results, the project manager will specify rough work packages which they plan in detail and manage the proper implementation of these packages.
One thing that weighs less in-front of the project managers is the information about the resources regarding there whereabouts and whether or not they are working on a specific task or not. However, some project managers do meddle in those affairs.
Another thing in the line organizational model is that the team leaders and the respective project managers generally agree on the delivery date for the development modules. However, it’s always best for the team leaders and for the whole working environment to fulfill the project manager’s requests as soon as possible.
In a line organization, project managers usually focus on two things:
- Agreeing with TM’s on the issue of deliverables.
Resource planning at the task level is done by the team leader which allows them to coordinate and modify the delivery dates and efforts while keeping the project managers in the loop. In this case, using a project management tool like nTask is the best option for them to manage their affairs.
Being a project manager in the line model, you have to keep a keen eye on the structuring of the project plans because that promotes the coordination with the TM’s.
Matrix Organizational Model
In a matrix organizational model, all the staff members belonging to different teams are committed to the respective project managers. To solve this, PM’s assign the relative staff to the detailed tasks in their projects according to their skills and capabilities.
At the project level, all of the assignments are sent to the team leaders as requests. However, the team leaders expect their own rough planning so that they can select the proper resources and commit them to their respective projects.
The matrix organizational model has a downside for the project managers though. The can select the resources they need for their project but for a very limited time only. But as long as the qualifications are sufficient, this should not be the primary problem.
The main benefit of the project managers in this model is that they can acquire the required team members within their project environment, even if it is for a short time.
The benefit of the team leaders is that they are able to properly keep a keen eye on the qualification of their team members. Because after all, they don’t have to devote themselves completely to the detailed planning of the work packages.
The organizational culture is loaded with many valuable resources but even that becomes a problem down the road, because if you can’t manage your army, what’s the point of having one?
That’s where this article will help you when it clarifies all your questions and issues regarding resource scheduling and management.
You just have to keep the distinctive roles of the project managers and the team leaders in mind and understand their point of view about how they do their work because they tend to look at the same resources from two very different perspectives.
How? Well, the team leader is the guy who wants to see the team members occupied and trained every time they put eyes on them. The PM, on the other hand, has a different mindset altogether. They just want to complete the required amount of work on schedule and in the agreed-upon quality.
Both of these individuals don’t always see eye-to-eye on how they do things. But still, they have professional respect for each other’s work.
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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