Acquiring Resources – Best Practices!

Many project managers know the pain of getting right resources at right time. And, when the necessity is for bulk requirements, then the problem increases to manifolds. Even on some occasions, due to resource crunch, the project gets delayed, and managers have to face the music from the customers. So, it is important to give appropriate attention to resource planning by accurately assessing the project’s scope to estimate the number of resources required to complete the work.

Though, many companies have dedicated resource pools which provide an opportunity to directly acquire the required resources from there. But that may not be the same case in all companies, there may not be a resource pool or very few resources are in the pool. In such organization, the project manager has to run pillar to post knocking the doors of various departments to get the required resources internally. The problem increases, even more, when it is a matrix-based organization where the department heads have the complete authority over the resources working under them.

When does a Project need additional Resources

Initially, a project starts with few pre-assigned core members, but after the planning stage, more resources are required to carry out the project’s work. Depending on the size and budget of the project the number of required resources may vary up to a larger extent.

Let’s discuss the scenarios when additional resources are needed in the project.

  • Generally, at the initiation phase, a few members are associated with the project for planning and designing activities. But once the work breakdown structure (WBS) gets prepared and work activities are estimated, the demands of additional resources arises to work on those activities. Based on that figure, they start resource hiring process to acquire the number of resources both internally and externally to build the project team.
  • At times, due to various circumstances, the existing team not able to meet the deadlines with the existing resources. Then the schedule compression technique needs to be applied to fast track the work. The fast track technique requires more resources infused to the team to speed up the work
  • Also, when some resources leaving the team or needs of particularly skilled resources arise, the hunt for new resources requires in the project. But in those situations, normally the managers have sufficient time to acquire the required resources

While adding the required resources, you need to carefully handle the following risks associated with it.

Some Risks of Additional Resources

  • The experiences of the added resources should match to the project requirements. else it will resultant low quality work
  • The required knowledge and skills should be at par the skills required to work in the project
  • The budget of the project needs to manage cautiously as the addition of resources require project’s cost
  • also it requires effective distribution of work to avoid repetition

As we discussed, it is crucial to have additional resources when needed. But resource acquisition is not a cakewalk, especially in the matrix-based organizations, where proper negotiation is the key to getting the required number of resources.

The Art of Negotiation – Key Role

Negotiation is the art of bargaining effectively to get the required resources as per the requirement. The level of negotiations depends on case to case basis.

In the case of a matrix-based organization, you have to negotiate with the functional managers, while in other cases you may need to negotiate with your sponsors.

Let’s discuss, as a project manager with whom you need to negotiate.

Functional Managers – For a Matrix-based organization, you need to negotiate with the functional managers. Discuss on the number of resources and the period in which they are going to utilize in your project. Take the approval to authorize the resources to work on your project until they are released from the responsibilities.

  • External consultants – Depending upon your organization’s process the project managers may not be involved directly with the external consultants. Many organizations have designated HR team to deal with various vendors, suppliers, contractors to hire external resources. In some occasions, the HR team directly hire the external resources from the market.
  • Project Managers – Sometimes you may not get the required resources from the resource pool, but there are less occupied resources in other projects. In that scenario, you need to negotiate with other project managers to get the resources.

Select the Right Candidate

Selecting the right candidate is one of the crucial tasks to do. The decision has a great impact on the project’s success; few bad choices can put your project at risk. There are many important criteria which need to be taken care while selecting a resource for the project.

Let’s discuss those criteria which require utmost care while selecting the resources.

  • Cost: Before proceeding to the decision table, know your project budget. The addition of the new resources should not exceed the estimated budget. You need to adjust the allocated budget within the varied ranges of resources depending upon the level of experience.
  • Availability: Before selecting the candidate, check the date of availability to join the project. Depending upon your requirement the date of joining should be accepted. Also, keep buffers for training and knowledge transfers before the resources take the actual work.
  • Experience: Ensure that the experience levels of the resources are matching with the project’s requirement. The less experienced candidates may not be able to show the required competencies when required.
  • Knowledge and Skills: Another important factor is to ensure that the resources have the required knowledge and skills needed in the project. You may prefer the resources having prior working experience in the same kind of the project or tools before.
  • Attitude: The behavioral assessment is another vital factor in the resource selection. The addition of new resources should not disturb the team’s functioning. They should work cohesively with the team strongly believing on teamwork.

Apart from the above criteria, you may consider some other factors while selecting the candidates. You may require some resources having knowledge and experience of working onsite. Also, look for the candidate’s having experience in any particular tool as per the requirement.

Once the resources are selected, keep a close tab on the process until they joined the team. There are many instances observed where the finalized candidates changed their plan to join the team at the last minute, which surely affects your ongoing project’s work.

At times, you may not get the required number of resources physically available to work with your existing team. In that case, you can obtain virtual resources available from another location. The availability of latest communication technologies such as e-mail, phone, video calls, web meeting and much more helps you to easily manage the virtual team. These days, many companies prefer their employee to work from the comfort of their home.