Resource planning to visibility: Top PMO Competencies
Evolve into a Multi-Faceted Strategic Partner
Ready to elevate your PMO’s successes beyond governance and on-time project delivery? Advance your PMO’s practices across visibility, demand and prioritization, resource planning, and agile ways of working. See how the Savvy PMO grows these 4 essential competencies to achieve the next levels of creating business value.
Adapt and Evolve Your PPM Maturity Beyond the Basics
Resource planning, demand management, prioritization, and visibility: These are the four competencies to cultivate if your mandate is to drive business value.
Today’s savvy PMO integrates these four disciplines to help organizations focus on what matters and have the agility to shift quickly.
Today’s PMO supports multiple ways of working
The savvy PMO knows that the world of work is changing. Many enterprises are embracing a mix of work approaches to increase speed and the success rate of delivery.
Teams no longer use a single “one-size-fits-all” work delivery and execution process. PMOs must support all the different work methods that teams are using today, including collaborative, iterative, Agile, Lean, and traditional project work. Incorporating these methods into an integrated portfolio enables PMOs to empower teams to do their best work, ensure progress against plans, and shift priorities and resource capacity as needed.
Four Competencies for Adapting and Becoming a Savvy PMO
In today’s changing world of work, mastering these four competencies gives savvy PMOs the insights needed to thrive.
Resource planning and management
Work intake and demand management
Prioritization and alignment
Visibility and reporting
These four competencies are interdependent, enabling PMOs to continually qualify demand, determine resource capacity, and prioritize the highest value initiatives. The right data and analyses both inform and are fed by these practices; savvy PMOs have insight into the state of the portfolio and its link to strategy at all times. As a result, they can be strategic advisors to the business, with the intelligence and reporting to guide executive decision-making.
Let’s explore each competency. We start with resource planning – a cornerstone of project portfolio management and a must for savvy PMOs – then building on each competency to see the progression of an adaptive PMO.
With effective resource planning, the savvy PMO makes the best use of the organization’s limited people resources. This adaptable, continuous process helps ensure that your resources are working on the highest value projects at all times.
Honing this competency, you can rebalance people and team assignments across prioritized work as needed.
Advancing your resource planning and management practice requires five steps:
Focus on your key resources first: Know your people, their skills, and status.
Designate and allocate resource roles and team assignments: Choose from among multiple approaches to best deliver work and outcomes.
Run basic analytics and account for financials: Verify that the work aligns with strategic objectives and adjust financials as needed.
Analyze capacity and demand: Determine what the organization can realistically achieve with current resources.
Rebalance, predict, and strategize for the future. Use scenario planning to compare alternatives and make more informed decisions.
What is Resource Planning?
Resource planning is the essential project portfolio management practice of optimizing resources to achieve the greatest organizational value. While resource management focuses on assigning tasks, roles, and responsibilities to project teams, resource planning is a more strategic endeavor. Resource planners take demand and capacity into account to ensure high-priority work can be accomplished.
What projects your people are currently working on
What resources are available and when
Skills and expertise of staff
Existing and future resource gaps
When resource managers have the data that they need to plan and schedule, they can properly allocate people based on their skills and availability.
Why Is Resource Planning Important?
Effective resource planning enables companies to move their businesses forward with an optimized delivery of strategy. Not having the right people available to complete high-priority work is a common issue. Organizations that advance their resource planning capabilities often find they are more frequently delivering projects on time and on budget.
In addition, the ability to put the right resources on the right work at the right time fuels growth and innovation. Project and portfolio managers can better ensure that people and teams are aligned to strategy. They can adeptly rebalance resources to accommodate shifts in priorities and to exploit new opportunities.
Without insights into resources, such as current status and availability, organizations may greenlight every project. Saying yes to everything creates unrealistic expectations for executives, line-of-business managers, and even customers. The consequences are often overcommitted resources, project delays, poor productivity, increased costs, low morale, competitive setbacks, and many others.
Resource Planning Versus Capacity Planning
Resource planning and capacity planning are complementary. Capacity planning is a higher-level activity, generally done by role and department, to determine utilization and if the organization has the resource capacity to meet current and future demands. A centralized work request system enables PMOs to collect and evaluate demand based on resource constraints.
With insight into resource capacity, PMOs can make the business case for more resources – or at least communicate why a project cannot be staffed. Executives and others can then make educated decisions about programs, applications, projects, and products. For example, they could hire new staff for an important initiative or put certain projects on hold to free up staff.
Resource Planning Tools
Using the right resource planning tools is a prerequisite. Project and resource managers often start with and continue to use spreadsheets to maintain resource schedules, plan assignments, track time, estimate costs, and assign tasks. This may work in smaller organizations, but larger, more complex organizations find it too cumbersome and slow to run resource management on multiple spreadsheets.
Resource management software can streamline the resource planning process. These solutions provide centralized visibility into essential data such as resource utilization, cost, capacity, throughput, location, and availability. Capabilities such as built-in Gantt charts often include the ability to create a simplified work breakdown structure (WBS) and other visualizations to identify resource needs.
Higher-level and more robust PPM solutions can go beyond project status reporting and provide a real-time view into the status of resources and activities tied to strategic objectives. Integrating work and resources in one place is a powerful capability for connecting planning with delivery. Functionality such as what-if scenario planning enables PMOs to understand the impact of potential changes before they occur, and plan resources based on available data.
Flexible Resource Planning and Capacity Planning in a Hybrid Work Environment
In today’s evolving business environment, teams are changing from role-based, project-driven teams to cross-functional empowered teams with enhanced expertise that become highly efficient and contribute to larger programs and value streams. As organizations make shifts towards greater adaptability in the ways that they do business, PMOs can support these changes by empowering across all types of teams – such as project, Agile, or shared services – to deliver work and begin to manage their own capacity.
Work Intake and Demand Management
A formalized demand management function helps to inform your PMO’s resource planning. This enables you and your stakeholders to objectively qualify every work request, factoring resource constraints and schedules into the process. The goal is to approve and prioritize only the highest value work that the organization can realistically deliver.
These four steps help establish an efficient, consistent, and easily understood process for demand management and work intake:
1. Capture initial work requests:
Create a simple submission process for ideas and requests but also put enough rigor around it to prevent overload.
2. Direct the work intake process:
As requests come in, use gates as needed to organize the flow, collection, and evaluation of the right data at the right time..
3. Evaluate and generate key work items:
Enable gate approvers and stakeholders to score incoming work based on criteria such as strategic fit, risk mitigation, ROI, and more..
4. Audit, track, and improve:
Examine both the intake process and completed work to continually improve demand management and quickly advance the right strategic work..
Savvy PMOs often establish a prioritization process along with demand management and resource planning. The same scores applied during the evaluation phase can be used to prioritize the work. For each project, your prioritization process should enable the PMO and key stakeholders to answer this question:
“What is the real value or benefit of this work and how important is it relative to other projects and initiatives?”
Today’s PMO leader tailors effective visibility and reporting to all stakeholders, collaborating with them to make smart, evidence-based decisions about resource planning, demand management, and prioritization.
Start by identifying the metrics your business leaders require for decision-making, then build reports, analytics, and dashboards to highlight that data. To leverage the right visualizations for the best insights, answer the following questions for each area of visibility:
Who will be the audience for the visualizations and reports?
What is the purpose? What are the outcomes?
What benefits will it bring to the business?
Tailor reporting and visibility for your stakeholders based on function and needs. Executive line of sight offers insights beyond status, such as:
KPI trend analysis
What-if scenario planning
Assess financial health and balance across portfolios
An underlying link of the four competencies for any PMO is the need to understand and manage project financials. Today’s PMO is on the hook to track and report on financials so that your executives and stakeholders can monitor, balance, and make strategic adjustments to drive business value.
Identify which financials your stakeholders need to monitor and include them in the project status dashboard. Include metrics such as:
Project management metrics such as detailed work item costs and benefits
Budget vs actual costs for role and resource allocations, capitalized and non-capitalized, as well as labor and non-labor contributors
Financial key performance indicators for trend analysis to identify improvement opportunities
You can also break this information out by phases or some other meaningful categorization. Find a set of financials and metrics that works best for your organization. This makes it easier to determine which projects will bring the most value to the business and, given resource planning and financial constraints, ultimately become approved.
Grow your PMO’s success beyond governance and on-time project delivery
Instead of being mired in day-to-day execution and project-level reporting, today’s PMOs need to provide just enough governance to ensure work is on strategy. The savvy PMO can continuously link strategy to delivery across the organization, yielding considerable benefits. When disruptions happen or executives want to seize new opportunities, your PMO can easily turn on a dime to help the organization adapt swiftly.
Become the Savvy PMO that Evolves Maturity Beyond Projects
By improving your competencies in resource planning, demand management, prioritization and visibility, you are building the foundation for becoming a savvy PMO that can adapt and shift as change happens. You’ll elevate your position as a strategic guide for the business, fueling growth and innovation.
It’s all about visibility for projects and beyond. Today’s PMO leader enables critical insights for critical decision-making to mitigate risk, capitalize on new opportunities, and deliver what customers want faster.
“It [Planview] has taken us from being a very disparate organization around projects to all focusing in now on each other’s needs. We prioritize based upon return on investment… mapping from start to finish the execution, work intake, and now we’re also doing post-implementation reviews to make sure we get the return on investment that we set out to accomplish.”