The project is approved and the executive team expect something to start happening soon. The first challenge for many PMOs at this point is to find people to do the work. You need to secure resources, the right resources! It’s unlikely that you’ve got the perfect selection of people on the bench, so the juggle to allocate the right resources begins! Here are 3 ways to secure resources for your projects so you can get the work started as soon as possible.
1. Approach line managers
As a PMO team, you probably already have good working relationships with the core line managers in the organization.
However, if you don’t have an enterprise approach to capacity planning with resource profiles for project team resources baked into the way you do scheduling, you might not know when individuals are going to be free.
Start out by talking to the line managers to find out what their team members are currently working on and when they would be available to switch to the new project. This could be a tricky negotiation if there are business critical projects already in progress – no line manager is going to want to shift people from a priority piece of work to a low priority project, and you’ll have to manage around that. However, if your new project is top priority, it’s a totally different discussion.
This approach relies on having project portfolio management set up so you can allocate relative priority to each project: that helps line managers understand where they should be focusing the efforts of their teams.
Best for: Small teams where you can build relationships with key line managers across the business and manage project resourcing on an ad-hoc basis as required.
2. Assign people from the resource pool
Your enterprise project management tools may give you access to a resource pool, where each individual’s skills and experience are recorded, making it easy for you to select the right person for the job.
Review availability and expertise, and allocate the right team members to the relevant roles on the project. It’s good practice to talk to them and let them know this is happening. It’s also worth considering how you can use the new project as a way to upskill more junior resources, so they can build their skills at the same time as contributing to the work.
Project managers may also have a preference about who they work with, or what kind of background the individuals in the team come from. For example, having worked with that client before, they may know that a particular industry expertise would be highly relevant to this new project.
Try to take everything into account to allocate appropriate people from the resource pool to the new project. Use the resource reporting capabilities of your software to help identify who is the best fit.
Best for: Larger teams where it’s important to track and measure resource capacity to ensure the most productive use of billable or internal resources.
3. Hire in the expertise
Sometimes you don’t have the right mix of skills in house, or you simply don’t have the available people. Whether you need to find the perfect expert or just need another pair of hands, hiring in the relevant resources is always an option.
This is a great solution for when you need someone to hit the ground running and start the work off in a professional way. You can recruit a new permanent member of staff and then train them up, but that’s a longer-term mission and should be part of your development plans for the PMO. When you need someone to start on a strategic project and the leadership team is asking for the work to have begun yesterday, hiring in consultant resource is a fast and efficient way of moving forward.
Hiring in the expertise is also a great choice where you know you won’t have the work longer term, and only need an individual on a contract basis over a short period to meet a particular requirement, for example, setting up PMO tools or supporting a contract bid.
With the wide range of technical options available to project teams today, you don’t need to limit yourself to people in your city. A remote resource could contribute equally well and deliver what’s needed if that is an appropriate option.
Making use of a contract workers to secure resources can be part of a short-term plan to get a project kicked off, with subsequent knowledge transfer to your in-house team as and when they become available. Or you could engage an expert project staffing firm to support you over a longer period of time with your strategic initiatives. Either way, make sure knowledge transfer is part of your arrangement so that you can develop your in-house team at the same time.
Working with a trusted staffing partner can be a successful long-term relationship, or a stop gap for a particularly difficult time where you need to quickly fill a role with a safe pair of hands.
Best for: Growing teams with a specific need for specialist, experienced resource to help advance a project quickly e.g. in the case of having just won a contract and needing to get started straight away.
There are a number of ways to manage project resourcing in your organization and secure resources, and you’ll probably use a mixture of all of these over time as your PMO maturity grows. It’s always worth having an eye on the future of your PMO team and where you want to get to, so you can start using the right approaches for resource allocation that will support your teams in the years to come.