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The key to managing individual projects in a Multi-Project Environment

The key to managing individual projects in a Multi-Project Environment

In his latest Guest Blog Lee Lambert, one of the 5 founders of the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional Certification Program, shares some tips on effectively managing individual projects in a shared-resource multi-project environment.

As we entered into the 2000s, a majority of organizations became committed to the matrix approach to executing projects. The format threw up a new test for project and program managers: How to effectively manage individual projects in this new “shared-resource multi-project environment”.

I had two large organizations (one engineering-driven and one research-driven) approach me to help them address this challenge. In addition to the allocation of necessary resources to individual projects, there was a desire to consider how to measure and improve the productivity of individual resources.

Today’s sophisticated PPM systems capability makes this challenge easy to overcome. We established a WBS down to the actual work package level. Then all that was necessary to create the foundation for measuring resource allocation disconnects was to collect resource assignment information for two streams: a) the project and b) the functional organization assigning the resources.

I suggested that the ability to determine under- or over-allocated resources would be easily achieved and communicated – provided we could track each resource as it was assigned to specific projects and then amalgamate all of the project assignments for that resource and for the respective functional owner’s resource pool to illustrate over or under commitments, therefore, supping resource-leveling efforts.  With the appropriate WBS and functional numbering system, the PPM system would be able to provide this information on-demand or through regular reporting cycles.

If tracking and improving resource productivity is an objective, this project information foundation can make it easy, providing the individual organizational resources have been given a productivity rating (unfortunately this is not the case much of the time—typically it is “a body is a body is a body”) and has been assigned to the work package based on that skill set productivity rating (skill set match).

Once the project begins execution the PPM system can provide analysis of the actual productivity rate per resource per work package.  While this data is useful in determining plan vs. actual productivity rates it is also useful in determining resource professional development needs.

Note: In many cases when actual productivity rates fall below 1 they are artificially adjusted by the resource working longer hours thus distorting the realistic productivity rate of that resource.  I call this the organizational “Free Lunch Program”. The problem is if we can’t quantify actual resource productivity rates meaningful variance analysis is difficult to achieve.

Moral of the story:

The PPM system provides considerably more than project cost and schedule information.  When management makes a decision regarding what they want to measure as part of the enterprise it’s almost certain their need can be satisfied using the enterprise PPM.

Want to learn more from Lee Lambert’s 50 years of Project Management experience?

Why not watch a recording of Lee’s Webinar on his “5 Golden Rules to Adopt When Buying a PPM Solution