Be Proactive to Ensure Project Staff is Available as Needed

Developing a project staffing plan involves selecting and assembling a project team that specifies how to meet the requirements for acquiring human resources. The staffing plan specifies when and how to meet the requirements for staffing the project.

“Here's the TenStep guest blog post "Be Proactive to Ensure Project Staff is Available as Needed":

Managing staff can be a challenge. In large organizations, or on large projects, you may have the luxury of full-time resources for your entire team. However, in many (or most) situations, the project manager must utilize shared and part-time resources to complete the work. In a matrix organization, people are assigned full time to a functional organization, but can be temporarily assigned full time or part time to a project as well. In this case, the functional manager may be responsible for part of a team member’s workload and a project manager is responsible for assigning the work associated with the project.

Project managers in a matrix organization often feel they have responsibility for delivering results but little authority over the staff. As a project manager you need to maintain a planning window of your resource needs. This includes a very detailed understanding of resource needs over the next three months. This is also referred to as rolling wave planning. You then update and refine the staffing needs on a monthly basis. The closest month should be pretty firm. Two months out should be pretty close. Three months out and beyond is best guess.

On the other hand, if the project staffing needs are well understood, you may want to maintain a six to nine month resource window and update the plan every quarter.

Planning for your staffing needs is very important. However, proactive communication is even more important. Remember that in a matrix organization, project managers need resources to do their work, but they do not own them – the functional managers do. So, the onus is usually on the project managers to make sure that the resources are available when they are needed, and that there are no surprises. For instance, if you and the functional manager agree that a specific set of people will be available for one of your projects in two months, don’t just show up in two months and expect them to be ready to go. In fact, you should expect that they will not be ready if you have not communicated often and proactively. The project manager should gain agreement on resources two months in advance. The resources should be confirmed again at the next monthly staff allocation meeting. The project manager should double-check resources again two weeks before the start-date, and follow-up with a reminder one week out.

You are much more likely to have the resources available when you need them if you take these proactive steps.

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