How to Determine the Correct Resources as a Project Manager

November 10, 2010

How to Determine the Correct Resources as a Project Manager

A project is defined as a temporary allocation of resources commissioned to achieve a desired result. Since each project is unique, the landscape between the current state (the start of the project) and the desired state (the successful end of the project) is often dynamic, uncertain, and ambiguous [1]. The role of a project manager is to successfully plan, execute, and monitor a project while using allocated resources of time, money and personal. This blog will identify the steps a project manager needs to take in order to decide what resources should be selected and then deployed for a project to be successful.

How should a project manager determine what is the most efficient way to select and allocate the proper resources for a project? Should the decision be based on cost versus need; and how can the project manager determine if the current resources in place are appropriate? What if the allocated or existing resources are out of date or insufficient to complete the project, how then should the required changes be made and then successfully integrated into the current infrastructure?

I believe that since each project by definition is so unique, the first step that any project manager should take in relation to making decisions concerning resources should be to take a step back. The project manager should go back to the beginning of the project and review the project’s charter to determine not only what resources are required, but also the resources that are already available. The project charter is an agreement among the project stakeholders that gives a clear and concise outline or plan of the project. The charter would include valuable information such as the project’s description, justification, budget and risk constraints. A project charter can also outline the business needs and processes. By knowing the plans, processes and opportunities of the company, the project manager can easily determine what future technology or resources can be brought into the project to further support the company’s plan [4].

The project charter will also allocate resources, based on the business needs and objectives, to the project manager for the completion of that project [5]. However, after the project has been defined by the project charter, the project manager must now identify what resources are needed versus what has been allocated. Often, the project manager will be given limited or insufficient resources for a project, but it is the responsibility of the manager to either request more resources or allocate those resources on availability basis [4]. In order to do this, a project plan must be developed.

The project plan provides the details of tasks, phases, timelines, and resources needed for the successful completion of a project [2]. The project plan will help the project manager identify what resources will be needed for which task at what phase of the project. The ability of the project manager to identify phases and requirements in a project is essential to determining the resources that are needed versus what was initially allocated. Tim Wilson wrote in Network Computing that the average IT project runs over budget by about 43 percent ,which average about $17 billion, due to the inability of the project manager to translate requirement into IT (labor) time and resources [6]. Wilson states that creating documents such as risk assessments and activity schedules can help the project manager estimate and allocate the correct resources for their projects. Amber Riviere blogs on GigaOM.com that, “It takes a certain amount of resources (time, money, effort, etc.) to pursue a given product or service, and since you only have so much to give in the way of resources, it’s important to choose the ones that are most likely to guarantee success for your business” [3]. Having a project plan that breaks down needs, risk and cost will help the manger do just that.

The final step that a project manager must take in determining appropriate resource allocation is to match personnel with requirements; this can be done by identifying the skills needed to perform each task listed in the project plan. The project manager should not be constrained by the people they have, but start with the ideal way in which the project should be organized [4]. This final step will help the project manager to determine if more or less resources (labor, money, time) are needed for the project; it can also help to determine if either training will work or if specific task in the project will require outsourcing in order for the project to be successfully completed.

In summary, in order for the project manager to deliver a successful project, it is essential that the project’s objectives, needs and constraints are defined before the manager is ever given charge of the project. The project manager must then breakdown each phase of the project in order to effectively determine the required skills, tasks, and budget needed. After the tasks are defined and processes and personnel are in place, the project manager will be able select and distribute the required resources needed for a successful completion of the project.

Work Cite

1. Levardy, Viktor and Browning, Tyson R. “An Adaptive Process Model to Support Product Development Project Management”. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 56, No. 4, November 2009.

2. Glaser, John. “Back to the Basics Managing IT Projects”. Healthcare Financial Management, July, 2004.

3. Rivere, Amber Singleton. “Opportunity Cost: Choose the Right Products and Services to Offer”, Aug. 12, 2010. <http://gigaom.com/collaboration/opportunity-cost-choose-the-right-products-and-services-to-offer/>

4. Neville Turbit, “Project Resources”, The Project Perfect White Paper Collection, <www.projectperfect.com.au>

5. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)(1996), p.50.

6. Wilson, Tim. ‘What’s A Project Manager To Do?” Network Computing; Jun 9, 2005; 16, 11; ABI/INFORM Global, pg. 67.

Cheryl Johnson

EE 606 Blog Assignment
Nov. 10, 2010

[EE 606, Brian Rabon, Cheryl Johnson]

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