Project Resourcing Has Changed for Good: Is Your Organization Ready?

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Project demands have evolved to support requirements for flexible programs and projects. To deliver massive project portfolios that take into account business lines and involve a variety of project sizes, timelines, and methods, project management organizations (PMOs) must refine their staffing models. Many PMOs tend to go to extremes, especially when it comes to project managers and business analysts.

Talent Pendulum

Think of it as a talent pendulum, with individual staffing on one side and extreme outsourcing on the other. Pressures, reactions, and over-corrections set the talent pendulum swinging, from enterprise IT outsourcing of 20 to 30 years ago to down markets flooding the workforce with experienced individual contractors willing to take a lower hourly rate. Even with (seeming) low-rate advantages, the trend of using as many highly qualified staff as the local market will bear from any company that can find and staff them will cause organizations to run projects ineffectively and with considerable risk.

Project managers and business analysts are the knowledge workers that drive project success. They engage stakeholders and use their ability to “speak IT” to bridge communication gaps between executives and IT while bringing innovations to projects. These skills are key in both business-oriented and technology projects, not just for intra-company initiatives, but for complex inter-company projects with multi-stakeholder requirements.

What PMOs need is a project manager/business analyst program that balances the staffing pendulum. They need a service partner that:

  1. 1Blends client expectations and guidance into resourcing project managers and business analysts to eliminate internal sourcing spend and delay
  2. 2Accelerates time to value by ensuring team members show up ready to execute, reducing on-boarding cost and effort of FTE staff
  3. 3Prepares for, initiates, and executes client work in a visible and measureable manner to shift success toward an outcome-based perspective
  4. 4Accelerates alignment and effectiveness by helping team members engage key stakeholders, with the goal of accelerating executive decision making (arguably a top critical success factor in project delivery)
  5. 5Uses client-tailored performance measurements to drive continuous improvement, leveraging partner collateral that has been proven across industries, clients, and projects
  6. 6Helps client team members connect and collaborate across organizations by engaging multiple executive-level advisors approaching the relationship to proactively share thought leadership and experiences
  7. As you can see, for a program to adopt the engagement model of a mature service provider, PMOs must adapt. We suggest starting with the following:

    Swing the pendulum back to the middle, so you’re relying less on individual contract staff. Allowing your IT partner to manage staff eliminates strain and drain on your FTEs. Give away the interviewing process, trusting (and measuring) your partner outcomes.

    Incorporate best practices from partners, and embrace changing your methodology. What you have created over the years with a few staff members is probably really good, but being open to techniques that attack core issues, like decision making, will enhance your approach.  

    Speak and demand the truth. Recognize and understand that anyone, client or contractor, could be filtering, at fault, or finding success. Filtering happens, so validate messages at the staff, line, and executive levels by frequent, documented interactions. Use management meeting time to openly discuss risks, issues, and decisions, and listen to all sides of the story.

    Measure outcomes, not individuals. Knowing all your contractor or partner staff names is not helpful; the quality and maturity of the deliverables created by those people is what matters. Recognize that internal processes and staff may be causing issues. Most people say they want to change, but their actions indicate they don’t want to—and many are defensive about their work. An outsider’s perception is closer to objective, so leverage thinking from other industries and hold regular reviews from resources outside the program.

    Engage the key stakeholders. To ensure project success, project managers and business analysts should regularly engage key stakeholders about matters that will significantly impact project outcomes. In other words, give people the access they need to the right people to be successful, from the line, staff and executive levels. Filtering interaction through a vendor manager is a surefire way to fail.

    The right partner will invest in finding, preparing, and onboarding project managers and business analysts into your environment. They will insist on objective, deliverable, quality measurement and support their work with service level agreements. Such a partner will simplify the project manager and business analyst functions, allowing you to spend more time on business outcomes.

Post Date: 1/25/2016

Adam Nelson

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