Solving the resource supply – demand disconnect

Solving the resource supply – demand disconnect

The concept of managers managing people is simple. And the concept of project managers managing projects is similarly simple.  So, why do so many organizations fail when integrating the two parties?  In our experience, “matrixed” organizations typically fail as a result of:

  1. Inability to codify business processes for integrating the parties and establishing mechanisms for requesting resources, delivering changes to those requests, and negotiating compromise.
  2. Implementing PPM-style tools to solve a resource management-dominant

Executing Resource Management in a matrixed organization can be fraught with challenges. Project and program managers face challenges with uncertain answers to questions like:

  • How do I get resources?
  • Do I request them? If so, how?
  • How do I know if I can get them?
  • How do I communicate my needs?

For resource managers, the challenges are much the same:

  • Who needs my resources?
  • How do they know they can get them?
  • What about all of their operational work?
  • How does this factor in my headcount planning?

While working towards the same goal – organizationally – the project managers and resource managers operate from opposite sides of the same coin. It’s for this reason that much of the current research around resource management focuses on integrating project managers with resource managers. At the same time, many PPM-solutions are now attempting – but failing –  to add resource request capabilities.

The Process

On paper, the problems appear solvable through a series of basic business processes. The first process involves surfacing demand for resources to the appropriate resource manager with a feedback loop approving or rejecting the request. The second process is almost identical to the first, except its focus is on changes to the originally agreed upon commitments.  As requirements change or estimates get revised, the resource managers need to be made aware and their feedback needs to be captured.

We like to think of these processes like a market or exchange.  Each store or stall in the market sells the skills, talents or knowledge we need in order to get work done.  While the project should express the demand for the skills, talents and knowledge required, each store or stall can only supply us with the available quantities of skills, talents and knowledge.  In some cases, you aren’t going to get what you want.  After all, the store owner is going to fill your order the best he can.  Sometimes you might get some rotten fruit!

Haggling is an acceptable and expected procedure.  Along the same lines, as a project manager’s estimates or requirements change, and those changes have to be communicated to the resource managers.  Returning to our analogy, we have to go back to the market and ask the store owner to change our order.  The shop owners will do their best to fill the updated order, but remember, you are NOT the only customer!

The Problem

On paper, these processes, which constitute a resource-request process seem simple and easy.  But many organizations have real difficulty implementing.  If the benefits are clearly understood, what’s holding so many companies back from fully implementing an integrated resource request process?

  • Much resource management is still performed offline. That is to say, many organizations haven’t implemented centralized solutions for resource management and have resorted to spreadsheets to manage resource forecasting and headcount planning. There are also a significant number of failed project portfolio management (PPM) implementations where, again, users conveniently fall back to the disconnected world of spreadsheets.  In an offline world, there really isn’t an effective method for integrating demand for resources with the suppliers of resources.
  • Many of the systems tasked with providing resource management functionality are totally inadequate. Often times the presence of Microsoft Excel for managing headcount planning, resource management and resource forecasts serves as evidence. Too many systems in the PPM space, which promise resource management capabilities, are too task driven or, by design, grew up in a milestone or task planning world where resource planning took a back seat to conventional scheduling functionality.  Since they aren’t designed from the ground up to tackle the challenges of resource management, they never fully address the array of challenges unique to integrated resource planning and resource request processes.
  • Lastly, we have fear of the unknown. It’s not uncommon for resource managers to fear letting others behind the corner. Who’s available? What happens if I approve? While there certainly are going to be resource managers seeking to avoid integration with the process, there are many more who simply just don’t understand what new burdens will be placed upon them by this process.  Without a clear understanding of the effects their actions will have on the projects and—more importantly—their own pool of resources, it’s natural to expect pushback from resource managers over a realistic fear of the unknown.
Solving the Resource Request Disconnect

Tempus Resource is the preferred solution of organizations worldwide to standardize and manage the resource request process. Specifically designed for matrixed organizations, Tempus Resource naturally includes processes for requesting resources as well as changes to existing resource commitments. All transactions are logged and accessible to project managers and resource managers. Like all Tempus Resource functionality, the resource request functionality is designed to tell you things you don’t know and illuminate important details you should be aware of.

Flexible enough to meet the needs of engineers, researchers, scientists and IT professionals, resource allocation requests in Tempus Resource can be made using work estimates or headcount demands such as FTE or FTE percentage.

Configuring Tempus Resource for integrated resource request processes is simple:

  • First, activate the resource request approval process feature, then configure the types of requests requiring approval. You can also set thresholds so that only changes above a certain percentage or total number of hours or FTEs will require approval.
  • Second, flag the users who will serve as resource managers. You can set this in bulk from the resource catalog screen.
  • Third, define the relationship between resources and their resource managers. This tells Tempus Resource how to route the requests.
  • Lastly, tell Tempus Resource which resources will integrate with the approval process. This allows you to exclude resources from the approval process.

With the resource request process activated in Tempus Resource, project managers now gain additional insight into resource allocations. When building their project team, net availabilities are illuminated. By identifying resources and their remaining availability, project managers are immediately made aware of the extent of resource over or under-loading.  There is no need to browse separate reports for information.

matching supply with demand solutions

Similarly, as project managers input their requested allocations and estimated, the Cross Project Allocation screen will identify the overall load on the resources included in the project.  The Cross Project Allocation screen displays the total effect of both hard bookings and soft bookings.

matching supply with demand solutions

Resources requiring approval will display a pending approval indicator. Color-coding helps to quickly call out those resources requiring approval and the state of the approval.

matching supply with demand solutions

The resource manager is immediately alerted to the resource request. From Tempus Resource, all pending requests for the logged in resource manager are displayed from one convenient interface.  By default, all pending resource requests are displayed.  Each request can be acted on by the resource manager by simply clicking on the name of the request.

The resource manager is immediately alerted to the resource request. From Tempus Resource, all pending requests for the logged in resource manager are displayed from one convenient interface. By default, all pending resource requests are displayed. Each request can be acted on by the resource manager by simply clicking on the name of the request.

The resource manager can act on the request by simply approving the request, rejecting or choosing to delegate to the right resource manager.  While making the decision, the resource manager sees all of their resources along with remaining availability.  Heatmap-style displays help to simplify interpretation of the data.

matching supply with demand solutions

Additionally, Tempus Resource allows the resource manager to provide a negotiated compromise with the requesting project manager by supplying an alternative resource or even a mix of alternative resources to satisfy the entire “order” with other managed resources.  Along the way, the resource manager can quickly gain a delta-perspective by using a before-and-after preview. In effect, this feature allows the resource manager to understand the effect of supplying an alternative mix to the project manager on his pool of resources.

Additionally, Tempus Resource allows the resource manager to provide a negotiated compromise with the requesting project manager by supplying an alternative resource or even a mix of alternative resources to satisfy the entire “order” with other managed resources. Along the way, the resource manager can quickly gain a delta-perspective by using a before-and-after preview. In effect, this feature allows the resource manager to understand the effect of supplying an alternative mix to the project manager on his pool of resources.

Once action is taken by the resource manager, the feedback loop is closed until new allocation is requested or changes to the committed allocation trigger a new request. All transactions are logged and available to both the project manager and the resource manager.

Once action is taken by the resource manager, the feedback loop is closed until new allocation is requested or changes to the committed allocation trigger a new request. All transactions are logged and available to both the project manager and the resource manager.
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