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?




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

  1. Thanks for the interesting articles- great reads! My organization does not have a project management centralized system, but it does have a centralized inventory management system that is used by all departments to determine what inventory is available to be sold. The centrality of this system allows each department to use the system for different purposes (some groups use it for inventory planning, others for storage and testing) but for the overall bottom line it allows everyone to see what inventory is available. If we had a project management tool such as an ERP that centralized processes the way our inventory management system does I think that would definitely be beneficial!

  2. My company does not have the centralized system that show how resources are allocated. However, I can see my company are more emphasized on efficiency through multitasking and concurrent processes, whichever that can help save time and improve productivity. I believe the method that my company use to allocate resources is based past project experience with a certain percentage reduction. That’s why we find my team and myself are short handed most of the time in our projects, struggle to get things done the right way at the timely manner.

  3. We use MS project for the department to schedule resources on various projects. This file is shared on our server that all the managers have access to. There are graphical views so managers know when people are overallocated, but at the end of the day MS Project is just a tool and not a means to communicate.

    I also believe that such information is only useful at a specific levels of management. Middle and Senior management don’t always need to be aware of who is overallocated, only why. It’s at this point that tools cannot offer explanations or excuses; we need people for that.

  4. I totally agree with you that rarely nowadays, there is anybody working solely on one project. I actually work in a small company with 27 employees in total and I can tell how hard it is to manage to allocate resources efficiently and fairly to both the company and the employee. It’s also true that the more experienced/ skilled personnel are more in demand and it’s a struggle to compromise, which most of the time end up to be paid from that employee time and effort. The company I work with is a franchisee type of business, so we have new project all the time that is being imposed by the franchisor. Therefore, I believe we would need to have some sort of a centralized location for all existing resources and where they are allocated as well as identifying potential available resources in the near future. if such method put in place, it would be beneficial to communicate better estimate of when the project will be started and how long it will take.

  5. The company im working in which is a construction company, we have the centrelized system for allocaing resources but still we have a huge problem in that even if it centerlized due to diffrent skills and tasks .. but still we are able to use our resources in an effecint way and we are more able to know when the project will start and end easier.

  6. This is a very interesting article that got my attention since I work in a construction field myself. The organization that I’m working for does use a centralization system to a some extend which is very beneficial to us in so many levels. specially when it comes to allocating resources, materials, inventories and figuring out where are we in a project since all of us are working on various project at the same time.
    Although that sometimes the over allocations can create problems for those who aren’t skilled and knows how to work with multitask projects, it still a significant tool that helps us figure out where we are in any project..

  7. Thank you for this post. The topic is very much related to my field as i work in a manufacturing company, where many projects are in the pipeline all the time in order to improve productivity, efficiency or to lower the manufacturing costs in a certain department. Our organisation primarily uses the centralised resource allocation system which requires the cooperation of all or many different departments in the organisation. I would have to say that it is a great system which works well in our organisation, helps allocate resources to various projects, prioritise the projects’ importance, and delivers results for the top management.

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