If you’ve ever had the misfortune to work in an organization where project management was chaotic and disorganized, you’ll appreciate the value of a Project Management Office (PMO). Without a central body in place to ensure that projects are run consistently and efficiently, you risk sprawl, delays and confusion. This not only leads to frustration for employees but also results in a perception of disorganization for your clients.
PMOs are a counterbalance to this, and when well designed, can work wonders for the way a business runs its various programs of work. Not only do PMOs make things smoother and more consistent for the business as a whole, they also help employees work better and get more out of their jobs. Research by ESI International shows exactly that – a survey taken with almost 1,300 Project Managers revealed that working in a business with a well-established PMO strategy lead to greater job satisfaction and opportunities.
A trend we’ve begun to see in recent years has been the growing number of resource managers working within PMOs. So, what role do these professionals play in the PMO strategy, and how do they actually work?
PMOs should be “the backbone of a successful project management approach at an organization”. Keep in mind that a PMO is not the same as a project manager; PMOs don’t actually manage specific projects or the decisions that are made by project managers. Rather, they have the job of ensuring projects across the business are managed in a controlled manner. PMOs provide:
- Delivery Support
Resource managers are skilled personnel who have a deep understanding of where resources are held within an organization and what they are actually doing. Resource managers should be able to advise on resource deployment and allocation, and tell colleagues what is and isn’t realistic for the company’s resources in terms of availability. Given their in-depth knowledge of the way in which resources are working ‘on the ground’, resource managers are an obvious addition to any PMO. Let’s look at how they can help in more detail.
Help deploy people where they’re needed the most
Resource managers will have a thorough understanding of where your resources currently are, and what they’re able to do. Say a project manager approaches the PMO and announces they plan to begin a new project with 25 employees. While the PM might have taken the time to plan what the project would involve and roughly how many employees it would need, they won’t have the insight of the resource manager.
A resource manager would be able to use resource management tools that indicate how (un)available employees actually are. She or he would be able to turn around to the PM and say “actually this won’t be possible, most of our resources are over-allocated as it is, so we can’t afford any more spread”.
Develop a consistent approach to onboarding and streamlining
A resource manager’s knowledge of your current employee situation is extremely valuable when it comes to hiring and firing staff. For example, without a resource manager in the PMO strategy, you might decide it’ll be necessary to onboard 50 contractors for your next big project. However, the resource manager would be able to use their resource management tool to tell you that actually, you might only need to hire 30 people; the other 20 could be ‘borrowed’ from existing projects without causing major delays to them.
Limit the risk of projects going over budget
In PMOs that don’t actually have a resource manager, there is a large risk of projects going over budget. As research from PWC shows, most PMs still think of their job along the lines of limiting missed targets – with the assumption that targets will almost always be missed. This is a sorry state of affairs, and resource managers can do a lot to ensure projects deliver more.
Because Resource Management software is successfully able to tell users how much each resource costs per day, managing a budget is much easier. With a fine-grained view, resource managers are able to discover where efficiencies can be made and losses reduced.
Make project schedules more realistic
A major challenge for PMOs driving the PMO strategy is to ensure projects stick to the schedule that was originally planned. ‘On paper’ many projects look like they’ll run perfectly on time. However, as any PM will know, these plans often fall to the wayside when the realities of running projects begin to kick in. There are delays, employees get sick, projects are put on pause and a whole range of variables can hold your project back.
Resource Management tools can help give a much more realistic idea of how a project will turn out in reality, and also help you prepare for unexpected events through carrying out ‘What If’ analyses. Resource managers are able to look at a PM’s plan and carry out tests to find out where there might be holes or unexpected costs.
Resource managers have a lot to offer PMOs, and the organizations which employ them benefit considerably. Resource Management tools such as Tempus Resource give your resource managers the keys to understanding resources better and help you find the best solutions for resource allocation. Importantly, it integrates seamlessly with Excel, Microsoft Project and other popular PPM tools, so your company gets even more from investing in Resource Management.