In addition to the master schedule, an effective resource management method (RMM) must include three fundamental disciplines leading up to optimized resource management: resource pool and skills inventory; high-level capacity planning; and cross-project resource planning.
RMM: The foundational information required to enable an effective resource management function is the information that describes the pool of resources available to you and the skills available within that pool of resources.
A more sophisticated skills inventory will associate the required skills and the level of competency to each role that you use in your organization. But this association is a secondary step and not an essential requirement to get your resource management function started.
High-level Capacity Planning: Your initial, high-level capacity planning should provide focus on critical skills within the organization by highlighting capacity and demand overloads by organizational unit, project or roles.
Using the previously described skills inventory as the source of available resources, the capacity planning function matches the skills and experience of individual employees with prioritized corporate initiatives on the IT master schedule.
Each project from the master schedule must have high-level resource estimates associated with it before resource planning can occur. Once established, the fundamental capabilities of a high-level capacity planning process allows resource managers and resource schedulers to staff projects quickly by searching for resources by name, role, availability, skills and resource pool.
Cross-project Resource Planning: Individuals are removed from the pool of available resources based on the priority established by the IT master schedule. This continues until all resources of the pool are committed to one or more projects.
Once accomplished, this provides insight into the organization's portfolio, showing how overall work (demand) compares with overall resource availability (capacity). It gives you the ability to see resource constraints by role and skill, as well as conduct "what-if" type analyses on projects to simulate different project scenarios where demand is shifted to prevent overcapacity.
In some cases, a lower ranking project may not be fully staffed. It is at this point that an overall staffing policy would kick in. For instance, your policy may say for continually constrained roles such as project manager and DBA it is acceptable to pursue an external resource if it allows the project to start a minimum of 30 days sooner.
Finally, your capacity plan must be continually refined as each individual project moves through the project lifecycle.
Jeff Monteforte is president of Exential, a Cleveland, OH.-based information strategy consulting firm, which specializes in IT governance, information security and business intelligence solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.