In the last entry I looked at some of the more strategic resource management challenges organizations face, and began to explore resource management around project planning in more detail. In this entry I want to look at this element in more detail, specifically around how organizational resourcing is impacted by project approval decisions.
When a project is approved that approval is based on the expectation that the benefits to be delivered are significant enough to justify the investment and associated risk, and that the benefits align with the organization’s goals and objectives. However, in the vast majority of situations those benefits are only achieved through resource changes once the project deliverables are met, and potentially for an extended period beyond. In some cases those resource changes are relatively straightforward – the reduction of staff as a result of automation for example, but these are the minority.
In most cases the resource impacts are extensive and diverse, and any problems or mistakes that occur will have a significant impact on the ability to achieve the results that were the reason why the project was approved in the first place. In the last entry I made brief reference to the development of a new product so let’s look at that example in more depth.
For the product to succeed it needs more than simply to be delivered on time, on budget and on scope. It needs a salesforce who understands it, how it will assist potential customers and how to position it in the market. Those sales people need to be supported by a marketing campaign developed by resources who understand the unique features and advantages of the product. Customers need to be supported by a network of customer service staff as well as potentially technical and professional services staff. The product also needs to be incorporated into the organization’s product infrastructure covering everything from refreshes, to technology support, to accounting and finance management.
At a minimum this requires a comprehensive training, development and support program to ensure employees have the skills they need to support the product from launch, but it may require considerably more. If additional staff are needed in one or more areas then the lead times required to find, secure and onboard those staff needs to be considered, and for skilled resources in a competitive market that can take several months or more. If the new product is a replacement for another product that is being retired then transition needs to be considered, ensuring an ordered withdrawal of the existing product and its customers while still avoiding the creation of a ‘drag’ on the performance of the new product. As the product matures and becomes more integrated into the organization’s operations the resourcing needs will further evolve – potentially less support needs as knowledge levels increase, more sales and professional services needs as the product becomes more accepted in the market.
Many of these changes will not occur for several years after the decision to approve the project to develop the product, but the commitment to those changes is made at the time of that decision. In order to maximize the chances of the project delivering on its strategic purpose – the growth in revenue, margin and / or market share through the new product, those commitments to change must be understood and the organization must plan for those changes to be completed by the time they are needed. In simple terms, if an organization needs 10% more professional services resources three months after the product is delivered the recruiting and HR function must plan out a recruitment and development strategy that backs up that time period to the point where advertising of new positions begins – potentially a year or more before those resources need to be effective.
Effective resource management requires all of those strategies to be identified and plans triggered in conjunction with the initial project approval decision – integrating annual planning with strategic resource planning.
About the Author: Mounir Hilal leads the Upland Customer Success organization, which is focused on driving adoption, value realization, retention and loyalty for existing customers. Prior to Upland, Mounir served as Vice President of Client Services for PSA, where he oversaw the global professional services organization and was responsible for growing services revenue. With more than 12 years of professional services experience, Mounir has extensive knowledge in enterprise software design, development and deployment processes, as well as business consulting and project management. In addition, he has a high degree of expertise in operational control, compliance and business process optimization. Mounir holds a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from McGill University and an MBA from Queen’s University, and is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
To learn more about Upland Software’s Resource Management offering, go to: uplandsoftware.com/psa