Every Project Manager wants the “best” resource – Resource Planning Issues

In many organizations, its very rare for an employee to be dedicated to only one project. Many times, resources are stretched across several projects demanding their time. And when a new project comes along that is requesting a specific resource who may already be fully allocated, conflict may arise. Often times, project managers of the conflicting projects have project plans with a resource allocation on their individual computers, where no other managers in the organization can view the allocation. Or even worse, the project manager may have never done a resource planning exercise on the project.

In the first article listed below, author Donna Fitzgerald suggests the concept of a centralized project resource allocation system. Not having the centralized scheduling system to show the allocation of all resources potentially puts the projects the current resource is working on as well as future projects requesting his time at risk. By having the system in place, the project manager simply would need to go to the system to determine whether or not a resource could be allocated to the project. If a project manager really wants a specific employee on a project but that resource is overallocated, the manager has two options:  either find another resource (either through another team member or consultant), or push the project start date to another date.

Having a centralized system also requires buy-in from all portions of an organization, which potentially could be a difficult task. However, I feel if an organization were to implement such a solution, it would eliminate a lot of headaches at the resource planning phase of the project. Another potential solution to this type of problem would be to prioritize projects, either at the organizational level, or departmental level, or even at the resource level.

M - Project Manager?
M – Project Manager? Who knew!

In the second article, author Daniel Chou uses the James Bond movie “Casino Royale” and Dame Judi Dench’s character M to illustrate the allocation of various resources (e.g. James Bond) on various projects. In the movie, she manages from the top down, in that she is able to add/remove resources from tasks if a project is getting out of control or if it’s going well. Based on the various risks associated with a project, a manager can accommodate for those risks (hopefully seen in advance through the use of a risk management plan) by adding additional or removing resources at that time.

Does anyone in their current employment situation have a centralized location that shows the allocation of potential project resources? If not, how do you go about ensuring a potential project resource is not overallocated?




Communication Barriers in the Client’s Workplace and Possible Solutions

Nowadays, as seen in many industries, outsourcing has become well-accepted in the project management area. Reasons for outsourcing can vary from industry to industry. In project management, outsourcing is primarily due to the lower budget that many projects have. Nonetheless, the key area to focus on is the “communication barriers that exist when a project manager works at the client’s location and manages an off-shore team by obtaining the client’s scope.”  From this aspect, the article, “Communication Barriers in the Client’s Workplace and Possible Solutions,” highlights several communication problems along with possible solutions.

Below you will see a highlight of these problems categorized under four (4) processes along with possible solutions. These problems are also defined in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fourth Edition (PMI, 2008).

  1. Identify Stakeholders
  2. Plan Communications
  3. Distribute Information
  4. Manage Stakeholder Expectations


Identify Stakeholders and Plan Communications

–          Stakeholder register

  • In the article, the author suggests to have a stakeholder register for every project. The stakeholder register should include the name of the stakeholder, the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholder in the project, the stakeholder’s expectations of the project, and cases in which the stakeholder needs to be contacted and how.

–          Arrange weekly meetings highlighting the exact agenda

  • The project manager needs to determine frequency of the meetings and media, i.e. face-to-face meetings, conference calls, etc.

Distribute Information

–          Plan and execute the right mode of communication

  • The author suggests to use email communication for complex scenarios, and to use face-to-face communication for quick and immediate responses. As for face-to-face communications, the project manager should also send a “re-cap” email of discussions, tasks, decisions, etc. as a best practice.

–          Access to required information, i.e. client’s network, shared folder, etc.

Manage Stakeholder Expectations

–          Negotiate and influence the stakeholder so that certain critical project meetings can still be conducted in the absence of the key stakeholders

–          Accept the fact of how the client works and try to adapt to such working cultures

(Ramaniah, 2012)

The possible solutions seen above can easily be applied to any project in any industry.  This list can be endless since there are several issues and risks in any given project. Therefore, as a project manager, one should consider all four processes. At the end of the day, as the author stated, “It is the project manager’s responsibility to run the show successfully by proactively anticipating such issues and planning how to tackle them.”

In particular, the biggest challenge for me in the project communications management area has been identifying stakeholders in my projects. This has been a challenge since I was new to the company, and initially needed a lot of support and guidance from my manager.

Overall, what are the current challenges that you are now experiencing in the project communications management area? Have you experienced any communication barriers listed under the four different processes?  Have you applied any one of the solutions?


Communication Barriers in the Client’s Workplace and Possible Solutions



A Thousand Lives: The Hidden Cost of Clothes

Three weeks ago the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,127 people. A majority of these were workers producing garments for sale in the United States and Europe. The factory manufactured apparel for brands including Benetton and Walmart among others. An investigation revealed that the building was deemed unsafe just days before the collapse, but factory supervisors ordered their employees to continue working in these hazardous conditions.

jp-bangladesh1-articleLargeThe obvious question is why a tragedy like this would occur, even after there had been a forewarning. The answer is because factories like Rana Plaza and others in Bangladesh are under immense pressure to produce a high volume of low-cost garments for their biggest buyers, Walmart, H&M, Inditex (which owns Zara), and Gap to name a few. These companies pride themselves on their ability to get apparel into stores only weeks after designing them. However, this incredible efficiency requires a tremendous amount of manual labor, and no where are labor costs cheaper than in Bangladesh. The massive global supply chains of a majority of apparel manufacturers flow through the South Asian country which trails only China in terms of garments exported. Unfortunately, most of the large Western companies are unaware of the conditions that exist in the factories where their products are being produced.

The latest tragedy has finally caught the attention of European and American companies. This past week H&M, the largest buyer of garments from Bangladeshi factories, agreed to a plan to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh’s apparel factories. The five-year plan calls for independent safety inspections and for companies to make the findings public. Joining H&M were Inditex, the world’s biggest clothing retailer, and several other European apparel companies. However, PVH, the owner of brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, is the only American company that has signed the pact. Companies including Gap, Walmart and JC Penney have considered the plan, but have not yet signed on, mostly due to the cost and how legal issues would be resolved.

130430150217-made-in-bangladesh-620xaI believe this safety pact is a step in the right direction on the road to abolishing subpar working conditions around the world. Therefore, from a management perspective, I think that companies that are not signing the pact, like Walmart and JC Penney, are making a mistake. Not signing sends a negative message to consumers and investors, if the companies are unwilling to spend money to protect human lives customers will question the ethics of the company’s management. Ethics is an important facet of operations management. The managers at American apparel companies need to recognize these issues, like their European counterparts have, and address the dangerous working conditions that exist in their supply chain. I think in the long run the benefits of ensuring safe conditions for all in the supply chain will outweigh the cost.

What is your opinion on the decision of many American companies to not sign the safety pact?

Do you think it is the duty of American companies to ensure the safety of workers in foreign countries?








Is Outsourcing Really Decreasing Americans’ Jobs?

Over the last few years, the United States once hit rock bottom and suffered major economic difficulties forcing people to lose their homes and jobs. However very few companies did not feel the economic crisis due to outsourcing. The term outsourcing basically means a organizaton, business, and/or services no longer perform their business “in house”. The service, organization, and/or business is now located outside of those places. Companies usually transition to outsourcing to save money and/or to lessen the burden on having to pay United States taxes. What do I mean by saying companies wanting to save money by outsourcing? Paying wages here in the United States is very expensive compared to paying individuals overseas. For example, the state of Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25, maybe even more for someone working in a manufacturer, however the same work that someone else is doing is payed about $5.00 for the same work and maybe even more labor than the United States worker. This differences can save major companies money and for this very reason is why most of them are starting to outsouce. One major company that I am sure everyone is familiar with is Apple. As you all know Apple have been around for many years in which making products such as iphones, computers, laptops, ipods, and so much more. Controversy have been spoken lately on how their workers that are producing these proudcts are working in poor conditions and are getting paid very little money. However recent articles have stated that ‘Cheap labor is not the only reason why they decide to outsouce. An article that was done by Casey Chan, mentioned that China(where Apple’s factory is located) has higher qualified engineers than the United States, futhermore China’s workers and factories are better than the United States. Taking those reasons into consideration as to why Apple choose to outsource, can you really blame this company for wanting better qualified engineers and/or wanting to better their company so they can continue to produce some of the best technology that almost every American has once purchased? Another problem that arise from oursourcing are the individauls that are layed-off due to the fact that factory jobs were starting to transition to outsourcing. The problem increasing because majority of factory jobs require very minimum training to get the job, but once a person is hired for the job, proper training takes place for that person to get the job down. On the other hand, once those same individals who were layed off trying to find a job can be extreme diffcult, which then those same individuals can not purchase as much goods and service anymore, which then are forcing these companies to outsource to save money and or break even for their services or products. Chapter 2 demeostrates reaons why “outsouring” or global is good. One reason was the it can increase strategies and assessment in a given country. Learning from other countries can greatly help others gain knowlege to increase their businesses and/or services.

Outsourcing will always remain. How do you feel about outsourcing? Does it really dismiss jobs or increase opportunities?

www.wisegeek.com/how-does-outsourcing-affect-the-us-economy.htm and gizmodo.com/…/why-apple-doesnt-make-the-iphone-in-america

Made in America – Jobs Trickle Back to U.S. Plants

U.S. manufacturing employment was reduced by about six million jobs, or one-third, between 1997 and 2010 but the new trend that has been growing over the past two years is the re-shoring of some manufacturing work that was “off-shored” to low-cost producers like China in the past few decades. Producing in Asia is not as big of a no-brainer as it was 10 years ago.

U.S. manufacturing has become attractive for some companies as Asian wages have surged over recent years and the wage gap between the U.S. and China has narrowed. The drop in the dollar over the past decade has also made U.S. produced goods more competitive. And higher oil prices have increased the cost of shipping goods across oceans, making domestic manufacturing more appealing.

The U.S. also suffers from a shortage of trained workers in some areas vital for manufacturing, such as engineering and operation of computerized machinery. U.S. corporate taxes are higher than those in most other industrial nations.

Products more likely to be re-shored include heavy or bulky items for which the shipping costs are high in relation to the price, such as heavy machinery. Other candidates for re-shoring include expensive items subject to frequent changes in consumer demand for certain colors or styles, such as high-end clothing, home furnishings or appliances. Makers of products for which safety is a paramount concern—such as food or baby products—might choose to make them at home so they can closely monitor all of the suppliers of parts or ingredients.

In terms of labor costs, China still had a big edge, despite rapid wage increases there. Assembly workers at plants in the U.S. typically earn about $12.40 to $16.50 per hour, plus benefits. By contrast, manufacturing wages in eastern China’s big manufacturing hubs are as much as $3.40 to $3.50 per hour. While those Chinese wages are only about a quarter of the level in straight comparison, the effective difference is narrower with estimates that U.S. manufacturing workers on average produce about three times as much per hour as their Chinese counterparts because of greater use of automation and more efficient manufacturing processes.

Call centers in India were having typical turnover of 100% or more each year, while typical turnover in U.S. call centers that handled more serious problems was in the single digits which allows U.S. call centers to provide much better service and customer satisfaction. Also currency fluctuations and rising wages in emerging markets are making the United States a lot more attractive in the long run.

Chinese labor costs are rising about 15% to 20% a year, which makes producing goods in China not nearly as cheap as it used to be. For many manufacturers, that narrowing is enough to tip the balance back to U.S. plants.

One factor that is helping the U.S. manufacturers is that many companies were forced to cut back and are reaping the benefits of restructuring. GM is a prime example of how the most drastic form of reorganization — bankruptcy — can work.

The news are great but U.S. still has to re-shore a considerable amount of manufacturing jobs in order to improve unemployment and every American can help by choosing “Made in America” products over products made elsewhere.

787 Dreamliner Debut…finally a dream come true?

Inside the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with CEO Jeff Smisek (video)

After years of production delays and costs overruns, November 4 marked the date for the historic use of the Boeing Dreamliner to finally take flight in North America. With suppliers located all over the world in a large-scale collaboration, delays should have been expected. Originally planned for its first flight in August 2007, problems with excess weight and manufacturing and other problems caused for five delays and the first model was delivered in September 2011. The first commercial flight service was on October 26, 2011. Orders for the plane came in before initial production and these delays have caused many unhappy customers and calls for compensation.

It’s amazing that even with all of the delays, many airline companies have still continued to place orders. This extraordinary airplane has promised features that will supposedly astound not only its passengers but its flight crew and potential customers as well. With Boeing finally delivering on this exulted and greatly advertised product, will this plane meet its high expectations?For many of the people on this historic flight, the answer is yes.

United Airlines is the first airline in North America to operate the use of the Dreamliner with a commercial flight from the George Bush International Airport in Houston to O’Hare Airport in Chicago. United Airlines celebrated this historic event with a ceremonial ribbon cutting attended at the departure gate by its senior level management and the 200-plus passengers.

Many passengers commented on the design of the 219-seat interior plane as well as the tranquil atmosphere they experienced. Many noted the reduced noise from the engines, wings, and landing gears along with many of the other special features of the plane. Many new features include 30% larger windows with adjustable tint windows, spacious storage, dynamic LED lighting, a quieter cabin, and a smoother ride. The plane’s composition produces greater fuel economy, less maintenance, lower cabin pressure, and less time out of service. Attached above is a short video of the interior of the Dreamliner.

Even with the delivery of this one Dreamliner, there is the possibility that Boeing can still face problems with its suppliers which in turn causes further delays with providing its customers finished products. So my question is even with all of these fantastic features of the Dreamliner, does it make up for the years of delayed delivery? With multiple airlines carrying this Dreamliner, what does that mean for the competitive advantage of a company? And with all the past production delays, is it possible that there are still faults with the Dreamliner?




You can’t please them all…or can you?

Outsourcing is very important to the business world and helps many companies in a variety of aspects. Creating partnerships with outsourcing companies is vital for companies to survive in this day and age. It also saves a lot of money for many companies, which benefits them greatly. India’s business-process-outsourcing (BPO) companies are a $50 billion industry however has recently been experiencing problems. They have started to struggle to attract the right kind of people to work there. The image of a business-process-outsourcing used to be considered prestigious and financially beneficial, but that has changed. Now people rather work in traditional sectors. They have realized that to change people’s perception of the profession, rebranding would be needed to help with that. If BPO employees would feel loyalty toward and support their companies, it would send a good message of the industry to others. A study conducted, based on Gallup data, has shown that as long as the numbers are dropping, BPO companies will not be able to change people’s perception of them. This data shows that only 28% of employees intend to stay with their companies for the next few years and that they would promote their company to others. This low level of loyalty is why the business is experiencing so much turnover and lost productivity. Word of mouth in very important in society today, however in India it is vital for businesses to survive. Indians tend to rely on advice from other people, especially trusted people, when it comes to making big decisions. This is how the problem is arising, because people who would have normally gone into the BPO industry and being advised to pick other professions now.

The industry will not survive if business owners do not start taking care of their employees. In order for the BPO to turn around, business owners need to direct their focus on making sure that their employees are happy. If they do not succeed with this, then they will not be able to obtain new employees which is ultimately what they need. Employees need to feel important in what they do and like they are making a difference somehow. They have need to feel that they are learning and growing while at their job, because let’s face it; no one wants to stay at a dead end job where they are not actually getting anything from. Employees must feel empowered and engaged in what they do.

What do you think are other ways that the BPO can raise their workforce number? Should employers focus on their current employees in order to get new ones in the future? Or should getting new employees be their main focus instead?



Why can’t we be friends??

Creating close relationships are vital to any company whether it is big or small. The article “5 Ways to Build Better IT Outsourcing Relationships” explain to us the importance creating a bond with whomever we decide to choose as a business partner. The 5 ways that create value are to scope and scale, service levels, the value of a healthy relationship, global delivery models, and process improvement. It is important to know before hand what the company is going to need IT service providers to do for their company because it will make it easier for both sides to figure out costs, amount of work that will be put into the services, time, and labor. If the company is able to create a healthy and balanced outsourcing relationship then the company and the IT service provider will be able to communicate and to be on the same page.


I believe that the third way is the most important, the value of a healthy relationship, because not only in business you must have a healthy relationship with those who you work with, but in everyday situations. By creating healthy relationships, one opens an endless amount of doors with who ever you meet. People will be more understanding of what one has to offer and will go out of their way to help with any issue or problem that may arise. In the business aspect, “historically, clients have had a myopic focus on cost reductions and securing the ‘best deal’ without fully appreciating the consequences on service delivery and business user satisfaction,” says Daly. In this sense it makes creating a relationship with the IT more valuable since the company will be saving money and working with someone that already knows the company’s identity very well.


Nowadays it is very crucial for companies to create a partnership with an IT company or to hire a person for your company that specializes in IT. Businesses have to use technology to survive in today’s economy. The majority of people now own smartphones that can access the internet at any time and place. It would work against the company if they did not use take the time market themselves to their customers on the internet or through apps. I personally use my phone everyday to make decisions on where to eat, how to get from one location to another, and whether to purchase an item in the store or through Amazon. We all use our phone to help us make these little decisions.


There are endless opportunities for a company to outsource for an IT specialist. The company just has to make the right decision on whom to hire, they need to find the perfect match that will fit in their current and future plans. What are other benefits and reasons to outsource for an IT specialist and why might this help your current job or for the plans in your future?








Amazon will start selling wine? Is it a good idea?

Amazon was introduced in July of 1994 as a small online bookseller. It later expanded to all household categories. Today, Amazon offers the Earth’s biggest selection of products in more than 160 countries across the world making them the leading online shopping site accessed via the World Wide Web. In addition, Amazon is planning to launch an online wine marketplace in the coming week.  Do you think it’s a good idea for Amazon to sell wine online? Instead of waiting in line or wait until the shop assistant is ready to help you with your purchases at the store, you can do your online shopping while at home, work, or in the meeting.

On Monday September 24, Amazon.com hosted a workshop and invited members of the Napa Valley Vintners association. At the work shop, there were meeting 100 different wineries. Any wine lovers can now sitting in their room and order it online. According to Wall Street Journal, Amazon said the marketplace would begin “in the coming weeks” and the online retailer will be charging 15% commission of the sale price, as well as a monthly fee of $40 in order to join the marketplace. Each winery will be required to handle their own shipping and compliance with various state and federal laws. In effect, Amazon’s Wine Marketplace will provide a portal for wineries, putting their wines in front of potential customers, while the wineries will handle sales, shipping and legal hurdles.

However, this is the third time they have tried to sell wine on the internet. In the year 2000, Amazon invested $30 million in Wineshopper.com, but closed down ten years later as the business did not perform to expectation. The second attempt was in September 2008. Amazon hoped to sell wine, but it was not successful. They have faced another financial crisis, and almost lost the company. So will this third attempt be successful?

Amazon is again taking a very risky move, but I feel that Amazon can do it. I think Amazon actually made a smart decision to keep expanding the products to keep abreast of the competitions, like eBay and Wal-Mart. However, they are actually now get a new rival;

Wine lovers are present at every nook and corner of the world. Also because Amazon offered a wide variety of product, low prices, and worldwide shipping, people choose online shopping rather than going to shopping mall. There are many reasons I preferred online shopping. Every Saturday I turn on my laptop as soon as I woke up on. I played game and shopped online as I have breakfast. At lunch time, I had a sushi delivered! I preferred to stay home when I have free time and I am sure that I am not the only one.


Question: Do you think this third attempt of Amazon will be successful?

Source http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/47366



Jobs Running Away

Jobs Running Away

Outsourcing is something that we are use in the United States because our labor is too expensive. In business, we find the most effective, efficient, and the cheapest way to go with our operating cost. Outsourcing is one way to cut labor cost in production and services and provide the same results.  There are many advantages of outsourcing not just cutting cost but also maintaining a competitive advantage than competitors with the same product. A company like Nike who outsources to China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are gaining an advantage for the price but many disadvantages as well. Outsourcing is an advantage for immediate but in the long run this decreases jobs domestically and creates many risks. Ricks contain ‘inappropriate planning and analysis’ because of corrupt or local government rules, managers that might not be capable, and employees only working because that’s the only earning they will receive. Outsourcing not only impacts domestic jobs but overseas because if the company were to decide to leave that would demolish their economy in some counties.

Indiana is planning to outsource their State Lottery operations, it is currently postponed but like many other operations, they want to pass it to larger vendors. They want to determine if this will be beneficial to them to gain more money or suppress their gain. They want to use outsourcing for their advantage in improving operating and service, and for outside technology and expertise which they believe will bring more people to play the lottery and help the state. Even though many other states have outsourced their lottery services with Indiana will become 95%.

Operations has much to do with maintaining and process where for the overall product or services can provide a better, shorter, and cheaper outcome for the business to grow. Outsourcing is one big operation in which product are shipped overseas for their cheap labor or technology and brought back to be sold domestically. Strategically they have to plan if this will help with the future growth because it is a large investment or they will have to spend even more backsourcing.

I believe a lot of strategic planning that goes into deciding whether a company should outsource. Even though I believe keeping is domestic, will have the local jobs and grow our economy. Even though many companies find it as an advantage to ship the labor I think ethically, paying the workers domestically will help with the current or future recession and avoid the risks and disadvantages that goes into outsourcing. Do you think ethically outsourcing is a good plan for any product or services?