Resourcing problems. I’m pretty sure there are few Project Managers that have never had this problem. You have, right?
This episode of the Project Management Insights podcast is all about fixing the resourcing train wreck that you might have.
Here are some tips that I have used myself to successfully gain the resources I needed to deliver my project.
Ask about BAU resource availability
We often don’t think about what BAU resources might be available to us, for short term support of our project. In the business you work in I am sure there are a number of people with different skill sets. And chances are that at least some of these skill sets would support you and your project. Especially at times when you have overcommitted other resources or had someone fall ill for a longer than expected time.
Work with the Project Sponsor, your Project Control Board and other Senior Managers to identify BAU resource availability. Be clear what it is that you are wanting them to do and how much time you need. The best way to do this is to, first of all, understand how much ‘off-schedule’ you are.
What support will you need to bring your project back on track? What skill sets will you require the resources to bring things back on track? Be clear on these and ask for them. You may be surprised at the response.
Are part-time resources available to you?
When trouble strikes we only think in terms of full-time resources to get us out of trouble. What about part-time resources? Sure, in thinking full time to part time you need more resources, and who says they aren’t available to you?
The only way to find out is to ask.
To fix resourcing problems you need to think outside the box. Part-time resources available to commit to supporting you may just get you out of the sticky situation you are in and back on track.
Again, the first thing to do is ask. Ask if part-time resources are available to support you to bring your project back on track.
Do project team members know of anyone with the skills you need
You may be surprised who your project team members know in the organization. Maybe they have interacted with other teams, other people in the organization and know what their skills strengths are.
Bring up the issue of your project schedule train wreck at a project team meeting to see if your team knows of people who might be available to help. Explain that due to resourcing problems you are looking for people with a particular skill set and do they know of anybody in the organization.
Sometimes it’s a matter of catching things quickly. As soon as you realize your schedule is off-track, act to gain resources to bring in back on track. Because if you don’t, it will become more and more off-track and develop into the risk of not delivering successfully. Something you don’t want.
External resources will cost more
Sure you can always go and purchase external resources to fix your schedule problem. Remember they will probably cost you more. Do you have the budget for that? Or will you need to put together a Change Request to ask for more funding? Your Project Control Board will need to be certain that this will be a once off and not an on-going problem with schedule creep.
Resourcing problems tend to make Project Owners and PCB members uncomfortable. They begin to see successful project delivery at risk.
Be certain to have looked at using internal resources first so that your proposal for funding for external ones is fully justified as the last resort.
And if it is specialists or a specialist that you require my question to you is, why happened that you underestimated the time required by the specialist resources you had? This should be a key learning experience for you in scheduling and planning.
Can administrative work be done by others to free up project resources time?
Sometimes we think of resourcing problems only in terms of the resources we need to complete a task. What about thinking about how you can free up time for the resources you have so they can commit more time to your project.
Is there administrative work that someone or others can do to support key team members so they could focus 100% on project task delivery? It sounds like a simple and stupid thing to consider and yet I’ve found it works.
By getting my Project Co-ordinator to support a key administrator with some other work, he was able to dedicate 100% of his time to my project for three days which bought my schedule back under time. Think about it. People don’t often think to ask for support this way and yet it’s possible to give this to them.
Ask members of your project team who are falling behind with delivery if there is any support you can give them so they can be more focused. You might be surprised at their response.